How to take your hamster to the vet?
When making a trip to a veterinary clinic, what kind of preparations should I make? When I’m at the clinic, what should I look out for? What about post-vet care? What are some dos and don’ts I should observe?
These may be some of the questions weighing your mind as you gear up to bring your hamster to your first vet appointment. The amount of uncertainty involved can often make vet visits as daunting for both the pawrents as for the hamster.
Fear not! This article is here to address all kinds of questions surrounding vet visits and hamster health care. Additionally, we are proud to provide a record of several first-hand accounts from experienced hamster owners regarding their hamsters’ vet visits. These anecdotes should allay your worries and arm you with information and confidence to embark on your vet visit!
Choosing the right vet
For medical attention, proximity is key, but experience is a close second. Ensure that the vet is experienced in handling your hamster’s illness before you commit to bringing your hamster there.
If you are unsure of a vet’s qualifications, reach out to fellow parents about their experiences and pore over online reviews. Your choice of vet is literally a vital decision for your hamster, so take your time and do your research before making your decision.
Transporting your hamster and general preparations
Use a small carrier to transport your hamster to and from the clinic. Those shown below are not suitable as hamster cages, but great as carriers! You can get the Savic Elmo Carrier from Pet Lovers Centre in Singapore.
Include your hamster’s food bowl in the carrier. If the visit is likely to take more than 3 hours, attach a water bottle or bring it along. Alternatively, you can opt for providing some cucumber or water-rich foods.
Bring along your gloves to handle your hamster during the vet consultation. The hamster might struggle and bite, especially if it is not tamed, and a couple of treats can go a long way to pacifying your hamster.
Illnesses requiring special pre-and post-care
If you suspect that your hamster has diabetes, always procure a urine sample beforehand to bring to the vet. This will is because a urine sample is required for the prescription of diabetic medication, so preparing one beforehand will save you an additional trip to and from the clinic.
To collect a urine sample, place your hamster in a small, clean bin and wait for it to urinate. It should not take long if your hamster is indeed diabetic. Once you spot the pee puddle, use a clean syringe to extract the urine. As the urine sample needs to be tested within an hour of extraction, you should ideally attempt this during the operational hours of the clinic, so that you can bring it to your vet immediately.
If your hamster is diagnosed with diabetes, it will be prescribed medication. Follow the vet’s instructions carefully when administering the medication. Furthermore, it is vital to eliminate food and treats which are high in sugar, such as fruits. These can be replaced with vegetables instead.
If your hamster has an abscess or a tumour, chances are that surgery will be required.
First, request that the vet brief you thoroughly on all the risks involved in the operation. Second, find out if the vet has had experience with operations of a similar level of complexity and risk. Even though the operations should not take more than an hour (including preparation time), they are in no way simple. As hamsters cannot be under anaesthesia for too long due to their small size, vets have to operate under extreme time pressure. When things go south, every second will count, so a vet who is experienced in handling such operations will make a world of a difference in ensuring your hamster’s survival.
That being said, the quality of postoperative care is almost every bit as crucial as the operation itself. Here are some simple steps you can take to help ensure your hamster’s speedy recovery.
- Ask for a recovery suit.
A recovery suit is an alternative to an e-collar, which is not suitable for rodents. Insist on it, even if your vet does not actively propose it.
- Keep the environment as clean as possible.
Remove the sand bath from the cage, and replace your regular bedding with kitchen towels to reduce the chances of sand or dust particles getting into the wound.
- Watch closely for any signs of infection.
Keep a close eye on your hamster to make sure it does not try to lick or bite its wounds, and make sure the wound remains clean. If you spot any swelling, unusual reddening or fluids, please contact your vet.
While respiratory infections and pneumonia may sound scary, just like with humans, they are illnesses that can be managed with timely and proper medical care.
If you notice that your hamster has trouble breathing or seems to be constantly fatigued, it mostly likely has some form of respiratory illness. Bring it to the vet as soon as possible, as time is of the essence when it comes to diseases of the lungs. Your hamster’s health can deteriorate very quickly, especially if it is older, so please seek immediate medical attention.
Furthermore, respiratory illnesses also tend to constitute the priciest treatments. These usually involve hospitalisation and the use of a nebulizer/oxygen concentrator, both of which are expensive.
Upon discharge, the vet should provide you with a care sheet to guide you on the prescribed medication and how to administer it, and to provide other important advice on how to care for your hamster.
General tips include keeping the hamster’s cage dust-free and substituting your bedding and substrate for kitchen paper towels. Ensure that the room your hamster is in is as clean as possible, and keep the air clear of pollutants. Dust, smoke or haze can trigger and aggravate your hamster’s condition, so if you have an air filter/cleaner, it may be a good idea to install it in the room you keep your hamster.
In some cases, your hamster may need to remain in an oxygen concentrator 24/7. These are available for rent from websites. Renting a concentrator might be considerably cheaper than purchasing one, but it can cause your medical bills to surge if your hamster requires long-term treatment.
- Consult online reviews and other parents before making your choice.
- Use a carrier to bring your hamster to the vet.
- In cases of suspected diabetes, prepare a urine sample from your hamster beforehand.
- In cases of respiratory diseases or surgical procedures, immediate post-vet care is crucial to survival.
If you want more helpful advice on looking after your hamster, including tips on food, toys, accessories and accommodation, add a comment below to let us know!
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