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Hamster Emergency Health Guide
Your hammy is sick. What do you do? Is it something minor or something that needs serious attention? Having a sick pet is no fun for the pet or for you, the loving pet owner. Any illness should be treated with the utmost seriousness, some may be able to be treated in your presence some may require the attention of a veterinarian. In an emergency however, you should always consult a veterinarian.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

1. Immediately separate the hamster from any other animals, particularly other hamsters. This is a precautionary measure in the event the illness is contagious. The isolation area should be quiet, warm and draft-free to allow the ill hamster an opportunity to rest and recuperate in a stress-free environment.

2. Keep close watch on any other hamsters, and if they show any symptoms set up another hospital unit, preferably in a different room

3. Sterilize all toys, cages, tubes, dishes, water bottles,etc. by first washing with an antibacterial soap and then rinsing with a 5 to 10% household bleach solution. Always make sure everything is finished with a clean water rinse, no odor from the bleach should remain. Discard all uneaten food and bedding. Wooden toys, etc. can be rinsed with the bleach solution and then rinsed again with clean water and put in the microwave for two to three minutes.

4. Always wash hands with an antibacterial soap before and after handling the sick hamster or any of the items it may have contacted. Clean the area around, and under his cage with disinfectant, such as Lysol. Lysol can also be sprayed in the air to destroy any possible air-borne bacteria.

5. Don't attempt diagnosing the problem, seek consultation with a veterinarian. A thorough medical examination is essential to insure proper treatment and possible preventative treatment to other animals that may have been exposed. Never give a sick animal medications designed for other animals or over-the-counter drugs. Obtain either a prescription from the veterinarian or administer other available drugs and medications in accordance with the vet's instructions.

In the end remember most vets have reasonable rates for hamsters. Reduce all possible stress by transporting him/her to the clinic in its own cage. Place a cover over the cage to avoid drafts and bring him/her to the one person who can give the best medical treatment available for hamsters; your veterinarian.

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HAMSTER FIRST AID KIT

A well stocked Hamster First Aid Kit should contain the following:

Adhesive Plasters: Used on small wounds to keep dressings on until the hamster chews through it! Can also be used for splinting injured limbs.

Antibiotic Ointments & Powder: Applied to wounds after they are cleaned. These powders and ointments are only available from a veterinarian.

Antihistamine Lotion: Used on bee or insect stings. Remove the stinger and apply antihistamine lotion.

Antiseptic Lotion: For cleaning cuts, wounds and abrasions.

Bandages: Used to bind broken limbs and protect wounds until chewed off!

Cotton Swabs: Used to apply ointments, etc.

Disinfectant: A mild disinfectant (such as Hydrogen Peroxide) can be used for washing around wounds and is recommended for washing hands after handling injured animals.

Nail Clippers: Can be used to trim both nails and teeth. Should be a good quality set of clippers.

Salt: A solution made with Table Salt (2 tablespoons salt to 1 pint water) is good to wash wounds and prevent infection.

Scissors: Curved with rounded ends can be used to cut fur from around wounds or remove tangled hair.

Sodium Bicarbonate: Helps reduce swelling when used on a wet compress.

Surgical Gauze: Used to clean wounds, cuts and abrasions; helps reduce bleeding and cover wounds.

Unflavored Pedialyte: For emergency rehydration.

Water Soluble Antibiotic: For oral administration, as directed by a veterinarian.

And, perhaps one of the most important items to include is a First Aid Book, whether it be for animals or humans since injuries are basically treated the same for both.

(Note: No specific Brands or Types of ointments, etc. are suggested, contact a veterinarian for recommendations.)


Not all veterinarians treat hamsters. To prepare for an emergency it is advisable to find a vet in your area that treats hamsters before he/she gets ill. Keep the phone number in a place where it is easily accessible should the need arise.

Keep in mind as well 24 hour vets are a specialty service and often are harder to find and significantly more expensive.

Graphic Artist Andy Markison
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