If you notice there is something wrong with your hamster what should you do? The first thing you should do is quickly assess the situation without picking up your hamster. Then based on what you observe you should decide what to do next.
When to Go to a Vet
So when should you seek emergency care?
Here’s a non-exhaustive list (from Avian and Exotic Animal Clinic) of instances when emergency vet care is a must:
Of course, there are many other instances where you need to get your hamster in to see a veterinarian. If you are ever unsure about whether your pet needs emergency care you should call your veterinarian immediately. When it comes down to it use common sense and please don’t assume that just because your hamster is small that it doesn’t need good veterinary care.
Now, if it is an emergency call your vet and get there as soon as possible. While you are waiting for help here are some things you can do:
If your hamster is cold to touch: Bently warm with heating pad (like this: Electric Heating Pad) on low. If you don’t have either readily available hold your hamster against your body to warm it up. Monitor carefully to prevent overheating.
Weak, anorexic (not eating) hamster: Hand feed hamster vegetable baby food (Like this: Plum Organics Baby Food Carrot, 3 Ounce) with a syringe (Like this: 1ml Sterile Syringe) in small meals (I usually aim for .5-1 ml in a feeding). Feed frequently until you can get the pet into the veterinarian. I personally try to feed at least every hour if my pet is ill. Since baby food contains calories and water you do not need to feed extra fluids.
Weak dehydrated hamster: Use a small syringe (Like this: 1ml Sterile Syringe) to administer a rehydration solution (Like this: Pedialyte Oral Electrolyte Solution - Unflavored). Usually you will want to water the pedialyte down and make a mix with 50/50 water and pedialyte. I try to get my syrian hamsters to drink about 10-12 ml over a 24 hour period so aim to give them a minimum of .5ml every hour. If your hamster is severely dehydrated or has diarrhea it is likely that it will need subcutaneous fluids as soon as possible.
Bleeding hamster: You can control bleeding with direct pressure (or pinching) over the source of the blood. You can use something like Gauze Dressing Sterile 4”X4”, however in an emergency use whatever you have on hand to stop the bleeding.
Paralysis: If your hamster is paralyzed you should absolutely minimize handling. You will want to carefully move your hamster into a small hospital carrier for transport to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Fractures or Other Injuries: If your hamster has a broken bone or other serious injury you will also want to confine it to a small cage to minimize movement and transport it to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Additional Notes: Generally speaking the three things you want to do in the case of a medical emergency are to make sure your hamster is warm and hydrated, and then to minimize the risk of further injury while transporting them to the vet. You may also find that a dark environment reduces stress for your hamster and helps minimize the hamster’s activity.
Thank you to The Pipsqueakery for sharing your well written article with the OHC.