10 November, 2007
animals - dogs, cats, hamsters & rabbits.
Newly renovated Toa Payoh Vets Surgery.
*10 a.m - 5 p.m (Mon - Sun, except Sat). Dr Sing. By Appointment
*6 p.m - 10 p.m (Mon - Fri). 10am - 5pm (Sat). Dr
Jason Teo. House-calls available.
Tel: 6254 3326, 9668-6469
Fax: +65 6256 0501
case studies/Be Kind To Pets pictures for Hamster Lovers
Be Kind To Pets
Hamster care. When To Decide on Anaesthesia and Surgery?
put a white plastic bag on the examination table and took out a long
blood collection bottle filled with yellowish white powder and two small
plastic bottles of liquid medication for the hamster given to her from a
veterinarian two days ago.
dwarf hamster moved a bit when necessary. Dwarf
hamsters do bite but this patient was lethargic and had
no strength to fight back when I handled him by the
"Was she still eating?" I asked.
The young lady said, "Yes." But her mother
It was easy to find out. We parted the wood shavings in
the hamster cage. There was not one piece of
hamster stool found. So, mothers know best.
"Was the hamster drinking?" I
asked. There was no need to ask. I pressed and
pulled up the skin between the shoulder blades of the
hamster. The skin formed a small hill indicating that
the skin was not so supple as it had less water content.
The hamster was not drinking much and was slightly
So, what should be done to solve the hamster's
problem? Was there a solution in the first place?
There was solution. It was surgery to drain off the
large swelling under the skin, filled with blood. This
medical condition is known as a haematoma.
every new client is a prospective litigant or
complainant to the regulatory veterinary authority if
the pet dies after seeing a veterinary
Much time would be needed to handle complaints and law
suits. Therefore, I could understand that the
first veterinary surgeon was not keen to propose
surgery. The dwarf hamster could die during or
after anaesthesia and surgery the next day.
In this case, a lot of time was spent explaining the
risk to the owner. The hamster would die in the
next few days as it was burdened by the heavy mass and
had lost appetite. it seemed to have lost its zest for
It was either a slow death at home or a possible death
on the operating table or the next day. "You
have to decide," I said. "Take your
"I know my hamster will not live long," the
young lady wiped her tears with a piece of tissue paper
as she stroke the furry one-year-old lying sleepily
amongst the wood shavings.
She was correct. But how would she know the
prognosis, I wondered? Unless she had medical
training and knowledge. She could be a human doctor or
This was an emotional situation. The veterinary
surgeon cannot advise anaesthesia and surgery as the
chances of the hamster surviving is below 50%. So
why take the risk to dent a professional reputation
built up with great difficulty over the
It was obvious that surgery was in the best interest of
the hamster. Yet, it was dangerous to do it.
No veterinary surgeon wants to present the owner with a
dead body on the operating table.
The young lady made the decision to operate.
"I want to be present," she said.
She should be permitted as she was a doctor. But,
I need to operate without distraction in a high death
It was not the distraction of a very good looking and
slim lady. I needed to observe the subtle signs of
the hamster having just the correct dose of the
anaesthetic gas to give me less than 60 seconds of
pain-free time to drain the large amount of blood and
remove the clots and a tumour.
I could not afforded to be side-tracked by outsider's
movements or answer any questions. A slip would mean
immediate death for this dwarf hamster. It was too
small to be revived with oxygen and emergency
procedures unlike a dog or a cat when the heart failed
under the general anaesthesia.
The hamster was given the gas in a small chamber which
was a plastic container. As its upper eyelids met the
lower ones, I took it out, made a small
"bikini" cut of around 1 cm long under the
skin. I squeezed out the blood fast. There was a
blood clot and then a small tumour.
In less than 60 seconds, it woke up. The owner was
asked to come into the operating room. The doctor
said, "The hamster is grooming herself using her
hands to clean off the blood. All will be
well." I hope she was correct. And that
the hamster will live to old age and be a joyful
companion to her mum. "It is best to examine the hamster
daily to check for lumps and swelling on the lower part
of the body" I advised the doctor who made the
life-and-death decision for the hamster.
She had apologised for being time-pressed and had not noticed
the swelling much earlier. Singapore's newly
graduated doctors work extremely hours in the hospitals
and they seldom have time even to rest in between
several night shifts in a row. So, I could understand
that she had no time to examine her hamster
All rights reserved.
Revised: November 10, 2007
Kind To Pets