tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)TOA PAYOH VETS

Date:   16 August, 2010  
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs & rabbits

Toa Payoh Vets Clinical Research
Making veterinary surgery alive
to a veterinary student studying in Australia
using real case studies and pictures

2010 CASE:  An old dog with multiple warts  
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
ate:  16 August, 2010 ) 
Be Kind To Pets
Veterinary Education
Project 2010-0129
"Don't you think that anaesthesia is always safe and the vet can take his sweet time to perform surgery," I said to Ms Lai on her 2nd last day of a one-month internship. "You have not seen any anaesthetic deaths in the old dogs being operated at Toa Payoh Vets," I told her. "That does not mean there will be none for a vet who handles old dog anaesthesia.

"In old dogs, anaesthetic durations of less than 15 minutes are usually safe, but in this old Shih Tzu with over 75 skin warts, the anaesthesia will take a long time. He has a short nose and is said to be even higher anaesthetic risks with some vets recommending oxygen mask for a few minutes before general anaesthesia for such breeds."

I gave Domitor 0.1 ml IV and isoflurane gas. There was no problem for the over 45-minute anaesthesia. However, towards the end of surgery, I checked the tongue. It was maroon red in colour. That was not a normal colour and would not be present in younger dogs. There was an imbalance in the blood system. The dog was breathing normally and was well anaesthesized at 2% isoflurane gas maintenance. Quickly, I removed the connections to the anaesthetic machine for a minute or two. The tongue colour started to change to a pinkish hue. I re-connected and completed the surgery soon.   

As to what is the cause of so many warts, it is hard to say. It is reported that young dogs with immature immune system get warts or viral papillomas but this Shih Tzu is already 12 years old and is in good bodily condition. There is something stressful for him - his right ear has a stinking pus. Will the bacteria in this right ear reduce his immune system over the years? It is hard to say.

In old dogs, proper planning and anaesthetic observations by an assistant are very important. Clipping of coat and IV drip prior to surgery help to reduce anaesthetic time. All owners are worried but many expect a dog to be alive at the end of surgery.  It is understandable that some vets in Singapore do not want to perform anaesthesia in old dogs.

2001 CASE:  Two dwarf hamsters' backsides are hairless
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
Case written: Oct 15, 2001

"What is the problem with my babies?" asked Ms Chin, a successful manageress of a shopping mall. "Two healthy hamsters of less than 10 months of age and their back sides were not only bare, but also are graying with pigmentation.  Can you tell me what's wrong?"

Phone consultations are free.  In this case, it was just not possible to diagnose skin problems over the phone as there are many causes of hair loss in animals and people.

Ms Chin brought in her babies.  She was correct in her description of the problem of hair loss.

Singapore hamsters with back alopeciaDo hamsters suffer from boredom and get mental problems associated with the lack of attention from the owner who had to go to work, so called "separation anxiety in the dog which goes about messing up the furniture once the owner leaves the house".   Or the loss of freedom to roam and burrow and suffer the risk be killed by predators?

In caged or stabled animals, long periods of confinement are said to make some animals bored.  This leads to a behavioral problem, defined as "compulsive disorder". In this disorder, the hamster grooms its back sides so frequently that no hair will grow. Due to continual irritation, the skin pigments gather to form a dark hyperpigmented skin. 

In this case, the two hamsters have the same problem. It seems logical to conclude that they have a behavioral problem, grooming each other excessively or excessively grooming their back sides themselves. One may adopt this habit after observing another hamster doing it.  It may be hard to break this habit.

The hamster behaviour experts will propose that a video camera be installed to spy on its habits of grooming, but this is getting too expensive for the ordinary hamster owner!

Some pet shops may recommend anti-flea sprays. Or maybe an anti-licking spray. These sprays may intoxicate the hamster as it grooms itself to get rid of the smell.  Being so small, a small amount of insecticide will damage its heart and kidneys, causing death.

Do other animals suffer from this problem of compulsive and excessive grooming?  The cat is said to suffer from a similar problem called pyschogenic alopecia.  Nobody knows why the cat does it too. There are drugs to reduce this problem in the cat. 

An anti-inflammatory and antibiotic injection may be helpful in some cases but the hamsters may need to be anaesthesized first as no self respecting rodent will take an injection without biting the veterinarian.  The cost may be much more than just going out to buy a new hamster!  Ms Chin preferred not to treat the hamsters as she did not want them to risk dying under anaesthesia.

See a case at: The hamster with skin warts

Singapore Dwarf Hamster - gigantic facial tumour irritating and painful. Toa Payoh VetsA dwarf hamster has a hanging wart

To make an appointment: e-mail
tel: +65 9668-6469, 6254-3326 
Be Kind To Pets
Veterinary Education
Project 2010-0129
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