Keeping pets is not always fun, and as responsible hamster owners, it is up to us to take them to the vets if they become poorly or injured. Having recently had to visit the vets for the first time ourselves, it got me wondering if we should have been making regular maintenance appointments for our hamster like you would with other household pets?
You don’t have to take your hamster to the vet regularly for vaccinations or spaying, unless for medical reasons. You should see a vet if your hamster becomes sick or injured, as certain conditions can only be remedied through veterinary treatment.
No animal should have to suffer, and as your hamster is a member of the family, they deserve the highest quality of care. Therefore, if you think your hamster is in pain or ill, please don’t turn a blind eye, make sure you take a trip to the vets.
Below we look at the most commonly asked questions about taking your hamster to visit the vets.
Is it worth taking your hamster to the vet?
Contrary to belief, vets do not only deal with dogs and cats but all types of household pets, including hamsters. In addition to giving a diagnosis and medical treatment, they are able to perform all types of examinations and tests including blood analysis, x-rays and even perform surgeries – although this often only as a last resort as it can be dangerous for such a small animal such as a hamster.
Hamsters are explorers by nature and love nothing more than climbing around their cage, which does make them susceptible to injuries. If you notice your hamster is in pain, then you should make an emergency appointment with your local vets. Likewise, if you are worried about the health of your hamster, then you should take them to see a vet rather than seek out home remedies or medicines.
Pay attention to any indications that things are not right with your hamster. Symptoms such as diarrhea, loss of weight, runny nose, fur falling out, wheezing, itching and bloody stools and urine, are signs that all is not well. For more information on looking after a sick hamster, please read our blog.
Older hamsters may require extra care, and you may feel that it needs a veterinary MOT. It is not unusual for hamsters who are 18 months plus to suffer from a variety of ailments and it never hurts to get them checked out.
Finally, if you know your hamster is in pain and distress and may be in the final stages of their life, please make sure you visit a vet who can ensure they are free from pain and if required humanely end their suffering.
How to make a vets appointment for your hamster?
Not every vet knows how to treat every type of animal, so it is important that you check that your local veterinarian specializes in the care and treatment of small and exotic animals.
You should also try and pick a vet that is local to you, as you do not want to be transporting a vulnerable and sick hamster on a long journey. This will only distress them more.
Make sure you check the credentials of your local vets in advance of your appointment and check that they are well accredited and have specialist expertise. You can also check that their online reviews are favorable.
Some veterinary practices allow you to make appointments online. This is how I managed to book Oscars appointment. I simply filled in an enquiry form with all his details and symptoms and selected my preferred timeslot. Within an hour I had an email back confirming my scheduled appointment. Others, however, may insist on a telephone consultation beforehand to get a better understanding of your hamster dilemma.
How to prepare your hamster for a visit to the vets
Taking your hamster to the vets should be treated just like any other journey outside of the home. As many hamsters rarely leave the comforts of their cage for more than an hour a day, a trip outside can be distressing. And if you already have a sick or injured hamster, it is important that you make the trip as stress-free as possible.
Make sure that you transport them in something that is sturdy, secure and comfortable. We would strongly advise investing in a travel cage. These are not expensive and will provide your hamster with a home from home during their little outing.
When setting up your travel cage ready for your hamster, make sure that you use some of its cage bedding so it has a familiar scent which will put them at ease. Place a small amount of food in for the journey as you never how long the wait times are likely to be and a place to hide and rest.
You also need to make sure that your hamster is well hydrated. For short journeys, we would recommend cutting up pieces of cucumber as a substitute for water, as it contains plenty of fluid and also gives them something to gnaw on.
Once in transit, it is important that you don’t let your hamster get too hot. Heat can be dangerous, so try to avoid putting your hamster near to heaters, or in the way of direct sunlight.
Finally, whilst in the vehicle, you should make sure that you strap your hamster’s travel cage in with a seat belt or have someone holding the cage tightly when in transit. This will prevent them from moving around too much and becoming sick or disorientated.
How much does a vet charge?
The price you may pay for a visit to the vets is likely to vary as much from city to city and state to state as it is for the diagnosis.
That said, most vets will not perform complex procedures on such small animals, so you are unlikely to have to pay a fortune. When getting any pet, it is important that you budget for any form of veterinary care and have a fund, especially for emergencies.
That said, our vet bills did end up totaling almost $80 once the examination and medicines had been accounted for. And although that is more than the price we paid for Oscar, to us his life is priceless.
Afterall, only a good vet will have the knowledge and know-how to assess your hamster, treat them, and inform you of their prognosis.
Although there is no fast or hard rule on how often or when to take your hamster to see the vet, we would always recommend erring on the side of caution where your hamster’s health is concerned.
A quick trip the vets will not only put your mind at ease but could well save or help to prolong your hamster’s life.