tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)TOA PAYOH VETS
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Date:   26 October, 2010  
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs & rabbits
 
Are you nuts? You ask me to collect urine from a dwarf hamster?
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
26 October, 2010
toapayohvets.com 
Be Kind To Pets
Veterinary Education
Project 2010-0129

I could see the look in her eyes. Eyes are windows to the soul and these eyes flashed a message. I don't claim to possess telepathy but these eyes texted "Is your mind going to pot? You ask me to do a mission impossible."

I have had done several hamster tumour removals and treatment, thanks to the internet group of hamster lovers. But to collect urine from a hamster for urinalysis? I have not personally done it. Now I challenge a young vet to get it done.

How to do it? Think. As a mentor, I must be able to do it. The young vet's silence was golden. I offered advices like:

"Put the hamster in a cage with a grated flooring. Put a plastic sheet below the grate. The hamster's urine will pee down onto the plastic sheet. Tilt the cage slightly so that the urine will flow downwards to one end. Then, you can collect the urine and put in a container to be sent to the lab for urinalysis. It should be a small cage."

Theory is great. Can this be done? Where do we find such a small cage? When will the hamster pee? How much pee can be collected. If the hamster pees 0.2 ml, the heat of the environment will just evaporate the pee.

I believe that many vet schools do not teach the students how to do it. So many animals to teach. Hamsters are low on the teaching totem pole.

The ability to perform is important for any young vet in private practice. the young vet told me that the top graduate in her class was fired for non-performance. Impressive academic credentials don't mean a thing in the real world where a veterinary practice's profitability must be sustainable.

Collecting urine from a dwarf hamster? I must be joking. But this is a serious matter as the hamster owner had consulted a vet who had produced an excellent X-ray and from my examination of the real hamster (after telling her that a phone call diagnosis would not be possible), I knew I needed at least one urine test.

To check for urine protein, blood, bacteria as the possibility of acquired or inherited kidney disorder in hamsters is suspected. "Blood tests are impossible in a live dwarf hamster unlike in dogs and cats," I said to the owner. "A urine test can be done."

So the owner left the hamster at the Surgery. And now, I asked the young vet to get it done. Veterinary medicine throws up many situations and challenges. If the young vet could not be successful in this task, could I show her how to do it? I had asked her to do it. This was to make her think how to do it. Well, there was not much time.

The owner would be back in 30 minutes as she was reluctant to leave the hamster in the Surgery in the first place. She had specifically made an appointment to see me through the Surgery phone but I was not given the message. I apologised to inconveniencing her for a second visit and asked why she did not phone me personally as she had done when she wanted a telephone diagnosis.

How to collect urine from a dwarf hamster? Read widely and take a leaf from practices from other animal species. Metabolism tests on sheep. What do they do at the science lab which conducted drug trials and which I have never visited.

20 minutes left before the expected arrival of the lady hamster owner. I had a brainwave. The urine was collected and shown to the owner. She was satisfied that she did not waste her time to seek a second opinion.

I have the pictures of the urine collection process for veterinary undergraduates who may be tested during their fifth-year vivas (oral tests).
 
 
 
tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)3756 - 3759. A clean sample of a dwarf hamster's urine can be collected with difficulty as the hamster poops too. Most likely, there is a need for another channel to get the urine to go into a collection area below and before the hamster poops. This is good in theory but in practice, poop keep coming out frequently.

Urine test result from the Laboratory:  he blood in the urine could be due to the antibiotic given by Vet 1 for the last 3 days or it could be due to infections or disorder of the urinary tract. 

Ascites in this case could be due to the development of liver, heart or kidney disorders or tumours as the hamster is one year old and is considered "middle-aged" in human terms. I told the owner that the hamster most likely had a disorder in the kidney and/or bladder and that he would not live long if he suffers from a kidney disorder common in hamsters.
 
UPDATE IN OCT 26, 2010
The lady owner brought in her hamster with a recurring left ear wart on Oct 20, 2010.

"What's happened to your hamster with the big stomach?" I asked. The hamster had passed a lot of blood that looked like Ribena one week after I treated him on Sep 10, 2010 and she had phoned me to let me know.

"His medication of Lasix was stopped two weeks ago," the lady had run out of the medicine. "He died 1 week ago. His stomach was slightly bigger. He did not put on weight nor did he lose weight."

The owner had a weighing machine to weigh her hamsters. She had been warned that this hamster would not live long. "Would he live longer if I ask for more medication?" she asked me. "No," I said. "   Since no autopsy can be done, there is no definitive diagnosis in this case.

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