Finding and holding onto a good vet is no joke. But do hamsters need veterinarians ? And how often do they need one ? Can hamsters be treated at home ? As a responsible hamster owner, you’ll need to know this.
So do hamsters need to visit the vet ?
No, hamsters do not need mandatory veterinarian check-ups.
Hamsters are hardy enough, and they’re usually shielded from most diseases by being safe in your home. There is also the fact that hamsters become very stressed when taken on a trip, and more than a couple of hours in a travel cage is disturbing for them.
Keeping their time outside the house (traveling) to an absolute minimum is very important.
However if the hamster is injured or sick, you will need to take him to a vet. Injuries can occur at any time, for many reasons. Diseases can still come into your home and reach your hamster – like the common cold for example.
Let’s see how you will know if your hamster does need to see a vet though, and how to find a good vet for your hamster.
How to know your hamster is sick, or in need of medical attention
There are a few symptoms you’ll notice when your hamster is sick, or injured. Let’s go through them.
Any discharge at all, from the nose, ears, eyes, anal or genital openings. Hamsters are meant to be dry, clean animals, and any discharge is a sign of severe infection. Meaning he will need a round of antibiotics for his treatment, and plenty of rest.
Bleeding of any sort. The obvious kind, like an ingrown tooth that’s cut the hamster’s lip or a cut paw. But also anal/genital bleeding, since this is not normal for hamsters and is a sign of a terrible health problem.
If you’ve got a female hamster and you notice her genitals bleeding, rush her to the vet. This is not normal for female hamsters, since they do not have bleeding periods like humans.
Any broken paw, or limp in the hamster’s walk. If the hamster is overly hunched – hamsters rarely stand up straight, their backbone is different than ours – or very very slow.
Basically anything that would show you that the hamster’s mobility is impacted. It could be ingrown/overgrown nails, or a cut toe or the result of a nasty fight with his cage mate.
Any suspicious lumps or growths, even warts. This can be checked by handling your hamster, and you’ll notice through his very soft fur if there is anything hard or lumpy under the fur. Tumors can sometimes be noticed in time and the hamster can be saved.
Remember that females have a row of teats down both side of the abdomen, and if you’re not careful you might mistake a teat for a wart.
Signs of blood in the hamster’s nest, or on the bedding. Even if the hamster looks okay now, but you find blood in his cage, you should take him to the vet. Whatever the cause of that bleeding, it might not have healed well, or gotten infected. This can lead to a series of health problems.
A bulging eye, looking like it’s about to pop out of its socket. Sometimes the tissue behind the eye can get inflamed and the hamster’s eye will be pushed outside. Any problem at all with the eye actually, even white spots (cataracts) on the hamster’s eyes.
If you notice symptoms of diabetes in your hamster (usually the Dwarf types). Excessive drinking, peeing, dramatic weight change (up or down), dramatic change in appetite, weariness, no exercise.
Wet-tail, usually the Syrian hamsters. This is a severe problem, and often lethal. You’ll notice the hamster’s rear is soiled, wet, smelly, and he might have a matted, sweaty look about him. He might drink a whole lot of water and still not feel better.
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Picking out a good vet for your hamster
Knowing when to bring your hamster to the vet is one thing, but knowing who to bring him to is another. Finding a good veterinarian for your hamster isn’t exactly easy, so I recommend following recommendations from your friends at first.
Ask the friends who own small animals like mice, gerbils, guinea pigs, lizards, parakeets, sugar-gliders, anything that would be small and not usually encountered as a pet.
Not all veterinarians can treat hamsters. You should be looking for a vet labeled as ”exotic”. They’re usually the ones who have experience with this kind of small creatures.
Although if you find a vet you’re comfortable with and he knows how to treat a hamster, even if he’s not an exotics vet, give him a chance.
What should you look for in a vet ? Well, for the most part competence, yes. He should know what he’s doing and why things are happening or how he can help.
But he should also be patient, both with you and your hamster. Hamsters are notorious for being skittish, and not staying put in one place. The vet should know this and move slowly to not spook the hamster who does not know him.
Whatever questions you have, they should be answered thoroughly. Even if they might sound like silly questions at first, if you need to know he needs to tell you the answer. Having a good relationship with your vet will ensure your hamster gets treated fast, and very well for whatever problem he has.
If you encounter a vet who seems to rush you and not have much patience either for the treatment or the questions, feel free to look for another veterinarian.
If at all possible, try looking for a veterinarian who lives as close to you as possible. Travel upsets hamsters, so the shorter the distance, the better. But if the vet you find close to your home turns out to be not to your liking, look for another one, even if he’s a bit farther away.
You will not need to see the vet often. But when you do, he needs to be a good, patient person, and able to competently help your hamster back on his feet.
How much a trip to the vet costs for a hamster
This I can’t say. It really depends on where you live, the vet himself, the treatment the hamster needs, for how long, and so on. Usually checkups should be cheap, seeing as they’re just checks to see if the hamster is in good condition.
Lab tests, long-term treatments and some medications can be expensive. Most of the time though, the hamster will not have a health problem bad enough to need those.
A word from Teddy
I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hammies look so small and fragile, but we’re fairly hardy. We’re sensitive too, but we usually don’t get sick.
If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life.