Owning a pet hamster is a significant responsibility, especially for beginners. So, you must ensure that the hamster can access veterinary assistance in a medical emergency.
Hamsters should be registered with a vet but don’t need annual check-ups, vaccinations, or sterilization. You need a veterinarian to turn to in the event of injury, sickness, or disease.
Not all vets treat hamsters, so check with the practice. Once you’ve found a vet for the hamster’s medical needs, you may never see them again, but emergencies can arise.
Does My Hamster Need a Vet?
Registering the hamster with a local vet 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.
Time is often of the essence if a hamster is sick or injured. 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 America, they’re exotic pets. Unfortunately, not all vets have the knowledge to treat small animals.
Once you’ve established that a vet has the qualifications and experience to medically assist a hamster, you need to consider the 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 a vet, you can register the hamster with them as a patient.
Do Hamsters Need to be Vaccinated?
The first thing that most owners do is get their pets vaccinated against infectious diseases. However, this isn’t necessary for a hamster.
Hamsters live indoors in cages, drastically reducing the likelihood of exposure to medical conditions that companion animals are often vaccinated against.
Do Hamsters Need to be Neutered or Spayed?
Hamsters are instinctively driven to keep the numbers of their species elevated. Unless you plan to breed hamsters at home, you’ll want to avoid this outcome.
That doesn’t mean that sterilization is the answer. 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 they don’t breed with conspecifics in the neighborhood. Hamsters live alone in cages, lacking any 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 gender.
When Should a Hamster See an Emergency Vet?
Some situations suggest a hamster requires medical attention post-haste:
Hamsters have around 124 bones in their tiny bodies. If any bones are cracked or broken, the hamster will struggle to move, let alone run on its exercise wheel.
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 insufficient bedding to break the fall.
Diarrhea can lead to a messy bottom, which attracts flies to the cage, opening up the risk of a 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 illnesses like wet tail or salmonella.
Panting And Gasping for Breath
If the hamster is breathing heavily and panting for breath, it may have a respiratory infection. The symptoms include sneezing, labored breathing, and runny eyes and nose.
Respiratory concerns can lead to pneumonia if they’re left untreated. If that’s not the case, hamsters’ lungs are vulnerable, so antibiotics may be necessary.
There could be other explanations, such as growths within the nostrils.
Lumps on the Skin
Tumors are common in hamsters, especially those aged over one.
As explained by VetRecord, tumors of the hematopoietic system are the 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 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 the 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 the hamster is unwell.
Wet tail will render a hamster sluggish and cause a loss of appetite. Equally, the hamster may have been exposed to toxicity through household items like 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 for 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 treatment. Find out how much your vet charges for a consultation, as there will be a flat rate fee each time you go.
Most vets will charge between $35 and $50 for a basic consultation. The cost may be slightly lower if you arrange to consult with a veterinary nurse.
The consultation fee will get you through the door. Let’s imagine that the hamster has 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 can’t access medical care.
Even if you never need to take the hamster to a vet, you’ll likely sleep better knowing you can.