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Do Hamsters Need To Go To The Vet?

(Last Updated On: May 28, 2022)

Introducing a pet hamster to your home is a significant responsibility, especially for beginners. This involves ensuring your hamster has access to veterinary assistance in a medical emergency.

Hamsters should be registered with a vet but won’t need annual check-ups, vaccinations, or sterilization.

Don’t subject a hamster to the stress of a medical examination unnecessarily, but ensure that you have a veterinarian to turn to in the event of severe injury, sickness, or disease.

Not all vets treat hamsters, so perform some due diligence before choosing. Once you’ve found a vet for your hamster’s medical needs, you may never see them again, but emergencies can arise.

Does My Hamster Need a Vet?

Registering your hamster with a local veterinarian is the responsible thing to do. It’s better to be on the vet’s books and not use the service than to wait until the need for medical attention is urgent.

If a hamster is sick or injured, time is often of the essence. Ringing around to find a suitable vet, and completing any paperwork required to register, could waste valuable time.

Do All Vets Work with Hamsters?

Although hamsters are popular in American homes, they’re considered exotic pets, and not all vets have the knowledge required to treat these small animals.

Once you’ve established that a vet has the qualifications and experience to medically treat a hamster, you need to consider a range of other factors, including the following:

  • What are the operating hours of the surgery?
  • Will you be able to reach somebody in a medical emergency?
  • How much does the vet charge for consultations, medicines, and treatments?
  • Is the vet close to your home? Hamsters don’t travel well.
  • Do you get along with and trust the vet?

Once you’ve found the ideal vet, you can register your hamster with them as a patient.

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Do Hamsters Need to be Vaccinated?

The first thing that most pet owners do is get an animal vaccinated against infectious diseases. However, this isn’t necessary for a pet hamster.

Hamsters live indoors, in cages, which drastically reduces the likelihood of exposure to medical conditions that companion animals are often vaccinated against.

Do Hamsters Need to be Neutered or Spayed?

Hamsters are aware of their status as prey animals and are instinctively driven to keep the numbers of their species elevated, especially when predators lie around every corner.

Unless you plan to breed hamsters at home, you’ll want to avoid this outcome.

That doesn’t mean that sterilization is the answer, though. While hamsters can be spayed or neutered, it’s an expensive and risky procedure that should be unnecessary.

We spay and neuter cats and dogs so that they don’t breed with conspecifics in the neighborhood. Hamsters live alone in cages, lacking any such opportunity to breed.

If you keep Dwarf Hamsters, you may have more than one hamster in a single habitat, but these groups should all be of the same sex to prevent fighting.

How Often Do Hamsters Need to Go to the Vet?

Hamsters only have a short lifespan, typically around 2-3 years. Their life expectancy won’t be prolonged by examining the performance of their vital organs.

There may be times that you need to make an appointment with a vet, but there’s no set timetable.

When Should a Hamster See an Emergency Vet?

There are situations that suggest a hamster requires medical attention post-haste:

Limping

Hamsters have around 124 bones in their tiny bodies. If any of these is cracked or broken, your hamster will struggle to move, let alone run on their exercise wheels.

There are many ways that a hamster could break a bone. Falling from the top of a cage while climbing or monkey barring are common explanations, especially if there’s not enough substrate to break the fall.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea can lead to a messy bottom, which attracts flies to a hamster’s cage, and in turn, opens up the risk of your hamster developing flystrike.

When a hamster has diarrhea, it’ll likely become dehydrated, which is life-threatening to small animals. Diarrhea can also be a warning sign of severe illness, such as wet tail or salmonella.

Panting And Gasping for Breath

If your hamster is breathing heavily and panting for breath, it may have a respiratory infection.

The symptoms of such a concern include sneezing, labored breathing, and runny eyes and nose.

Respiratory concerns can lead to pneumonia if they’re left untreated. Even if that’s not the case, hamsters’ lungs are small and vulnerable. A course of antibiotics may be necessary.

There could be other explanations, such as growths within the nostrils.

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Lumps on the Skin

Tumors are common in hamsters, especially those aged over a year.

As explained by VetRecord, tumors of the hematopoietic system are most common. The reproductive organs and digestive system can also cause such concerns.

If you’re stroking a hamster, remain vigilant about any lumps and bumps that you discover. Many hamster tumors are benign, but malignant tumors are deadly.

Hamsters rarely survive longer than six months with a malignant tumor.

If the diagnosis comes later in a hamster’s life, a vet will recommend a course of action that minimizes pain and discomfort for the hamster’s remaining time.

Sudden Behavioral Changes

Consider seeing a vet if your hamster starts displaying sudden behavior and temperament changes. Examples of this include:

  • Uncharacteristic aggression
  • Refusing food and water
  • Declining to exercise
  • Neglecting to groom
  • Sleeping to excess

Any of these symptoms can be warning signs that your hamster is unwell.

Wet tail, in particular, will render a hamster sluggish and cause a loss of appetite. Equally, your hamster may have been exposed to toxicity through household items, such as scented candles

How Much Does it Cost To Take a Hamster to the Vet?

Trips to the vet with a hamster are usually cheaper than other pets.

Hamsters won’t be subjected to bloodwork or complex annual examinations, and as they don’t get vaccinations, they won’t need boosters.

The price of care for hamsters depends on the vet’s rate card and the necessary treatment. Find out how much your vet charges for a consultation, as there will be a flat rate fee each time you show up.

Most vets will charge somewhere between $35 and $50 for a basic consultation. If you arrange to consult with a veterinary nurse, the cost may be slightly lower.

This consultation fee will just get you through the door. Let’s imagine that your hamster presents to a vet with a case of wet tail. A course of antibiotics and hydrating subcutaneous fluids will be essential.

It’s optional whether you register with a vet when you get a hamster. However, nobody wants to find themselves in a position where they need urgent assistance and can’t access medical care.

Even if you never need to take your hamster to a vet, you’ll likely sleep better knowing that you can.