Saturday, November 6, 2010

233. Hamster vets


I am writing to you because I have a dwarfhamster that has not emptied
his cheek pouch in two weeks not even when I gently press on the back
of his pouch. It also seems that his teeth might be too long, although
I am not quite sure how long hamster teeth should be. On your website
you have many stories about how you have treated hamsters, and it
seems that you have a lot of knowledge on this subject therefore I am
asking you for your help.
I live in the Netherlands where it is very hard to find a veterinarian
that knows how to treat small animals. I have called the vet and they
said they could not say anything without seeing the hamster first and
that they do have knowledge of hamsters. I have had several small pets
and this is their usual reply and when I bring my pet over the vet
usually knows a lot less than I do and always recommends just putting
it to sleep. The consultations are quite expensive therefore I really
would not like to go unless I would find a doctor that actually knows
something about small animals, they always say they do on the phone
but a soon as you stand in front of them they do not even know its
head from its tail.
The hamster seems to be doing fine, he does not look in distress and
he still eats and drinks. However, he seems to have slowed down.
Normally he is a very active animal that runs in his wheel for hours
and moves everything around in his cage but lately he is less active
and he seems to keep tripping and falling over when he is climbing
around on his toys, in such a manner that I have actually removed most
of his toys so that he would not be able to hurt himself. He is almost
two years old now, so maybe him slowing down is just because he is
getting older. Although my previous hamsters would remain active until
their death.
Another of my concern to bring the hamster to the vet is because he is
getting older and I am afraid that maybe the stress of being there and
maybe being handled by an inexperienced vet would make him die from
stress. Therefore, I hope you will be willing to give me advice on how
to take care of my hamster myself so I can do it in the comfort of his
own home. I would be very grateful! Could you tell me step by step how
to clean out his cheek pouch? Also how I could locate it, because when
I hold him by the scruff of his neck which makes him "smile" I cannot
see any entrance to his cheek pouch. Would you maybe be able to send
me a picture of how long the teeth of a dwarfhamster should normally
look like? I can find a lot of pictures online where the teeth are
extremely long and curled up, but my hamster does not have this. Oh I
almost forgot to say that my hamster also does not drool from the
mouth but he has not closed his mouth in a couple of days its always
just open for a little bit.
I really hope you can help me quickly before he gets sicker, I am of
course willing to pay for your consultation.

Kind regards,
Name of Owner


If the cheek pouch is impacted, you need to empty it. Usually I put the hamster under gas anaesthesia as it will be stressed and may die.
As for your case, your hamster may be comfortable with you. You need to restrain him and this is not easy, to empty his pouch. Use a blunt ended forceps to do it in this case. If the cheek pouch is inflamed and infected, you will need to look for an experienced hamster vet to use anaesthesia and do surgery.

I hope this advice will help. Impacted and/or infected cheek pouches are sometimes very difficult to empty as some seeds may have stuck inside and become embedded causing great pain in the mouth. If there is no anaesthesia and you try to force the hamster to empty its pouch, it may just die during your manipulation. That is why many vets don't like hamster treatment. No vets want to damage his reputation when the hamster dies during treatment. Best wishes.

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