tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)TOA PAYOH VETS

Date:   22 September, 2008

 Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters & rabbits

*10 a.m - 5 p.m (Mon - Sun, except Sat). Dr Sing Kong Yuen. By Appointment Only.

*6 p.m - 10 p.m (Mon - Fri). 10am - 5pm (Sat). Dr Jason Teo. House-calls available.

Appointment preferred.
Tel: 6254-3326, 9668-6469
11 p.m to 6 a.m
Dr Teo
9668-6469, 6254-3326
Fax: +65 6256 0501
Be Kind To Pets
Expatriate rentals in Singapore
Toilet training your puppy in Singapore  Dr Sing's research book to be published

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

Case written: 2000. Case updated: Sep 22, 2008
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS.

He was a lightning ball of energy.  You cannot hold him still for a second.  Ms White just loved him, his dynamism and his speed.  But he was now losing weight.

"Another vet had pierced an abscess below his left muzzle, gave us some medication with vitamins and an Hamster with 2-week-old inflammed muzzle areaantiseptic to wash the wound.  Also, he told us to squeeze out more pus regularly," Ms White said as she brought in a small one-and- a-half year-old hamster. 

"I just can't do it." Ms White explained that she could not do the drainage of the pus from the abscess which had persisted for the past two weeks.

"Can you just cut the swelling and release the pus?" she asked.  The hamster was not having such a good appetite and had lost a lot of weight.

He screamed. It was more like shrieking in a high pitched voice when I checked out the inflamed swollen lump on the left muzzle.  The scream transmitted to Ms White who felt the pain as much as her beloved hamster. 

"If you don't lance the abscess to release the pus, he will die of toxins
Hamster with abscess? spreading to the whole body," said Ms White worriedly. "The poor thing now cannot hold the melon seed to his mouth to open it nowadays. Lancing the abscess will alleviate its pain"

"It's a hard lump," I said after a few more palpations and objections from the little creature. "There will be no pus if it is cut. Worse of all, the hamster will have a bigger hole which will become infected since it is near the mouth area" The hamster was very irritated by the lump and had been scratching it till a large area of the skin was reddened and had lost some hair.

This is a big survival problem for the hamster. It might die of septicaemia, due to the widespread bacterial and toxin poisoning in its blood stream.

Or it might die due to anorexia, a complete loss of appetite as its diet becomes restricted to bread and soft food and it will not want to eat anymore due to pain.

However, the swelling and infected tissues had expanded and there was a possibility of infection developing. This swelling could be a soft tissue tumour too as the hamster is considered over middle age in human equivalent terms. Hamsters generally live for 2 to 3 years in Singapore.

"There would be no pus after incision of the selling, as the "abscess" had not ripened fully," I elaborated. "The lancing of the abscess might cause the hamster to stop eating as this is a sensitive area." 

"The first vet had pricked a small pimple and a small drop of pus had come out, but now the bigger inflamed area had not developed into the soft abscess yet." I explained.  "If the area is cut, it will be very painful even if it is a small cut. This is because the hamster is so small in size.  It may not eat and will die of hunger after the incision." 

Many times, the vet will be blamed for its death a day or two after surgery. The vet "killed" the hamster.  

What should I do now? What would be in the best interest of the hamster?

Medication in a paste was given for the next 7 days.  If the swelling developed into a soft abscess, it will be lanced.  If the red lump shrinks, no surgery will be done.

Ms White must ensure that the medication be given for the next 7 days. It would not be easy for her to do so as she had not handled animals from childhood.  Most of Singapore's X-file generation just do not have the hands-on experience of pets during the growing up days.

Not all abscesses can be lanced immediately. Some may ripen after two weeks.  Many hamsters in Singapore suffer from abscesses. 

The causes must be identified to prevent occurrences. Some causes are due to fighting.  Others are due to sharp objects piercing the skin of the hamster and in this case, it could be one of the sharp edges of a melon seed.

One week later, the hamster had a purplish lump with small holes, indicating some infection had gone in.  I put it under gas anaesthesia to check it out. It will be risky, the owners were warned.  The hard tissue lump had increased in size.  The two lower teeth had overgrown in length, indicating that the hamster was not eating its melon seeds to wear down the teeth.  

As it was sleepy, the lower teeth was clipped short.  In this way it could eat.  Medication was fed using honey. But the hamster developed "wet tail" or diarrhoea and the medication was stopped.  The lump did not soften but increased further in size extending to a curved tip below its margin.  

The hamster lost weight but it could eat melon seeds.  It was very irritated with this extraneous tissue. "Could you cut it off?" Ms White asked again. If only this was so easy.  A month passed.  It was not improving and had shrunk to half its size.  Would it be kinder to let go and relieve it of misery and pain by euthanasia?  That would be up to Ms White to decide. 

tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)Toa Payoh Vets
Clinical Research
Be Kind To Pets

Copyright © Asiahomes Internet
All rights reserved. Revised: September 22, 2008
Toa Payoh Vets