Archive for March 3rd, 2011

The Case of the Sick Hamster

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

A very mem­o­rable case from years ago was that of a ham­ster that pre­sented for just not doing right. In vet lingo we use the acronym ADR (ain’t doing right) and upon exam the ham­ster was a lit­tle thin but dis­tended in the belly, not as active and ener­getic. We ini­tally tried some med­ica­tions but this didn’t help and at the recheck visit, the ham­ster was much thin­ner and it’s belly was big­ger. Radi­ographs (X-rays) revealed a mass affect in the abdomen that appeared to be the repro­duc­tive tract. Based on the rest of exam and diag­nos­tics it appeared to be a pos­si­ble pyome­tra and the rec­om­men­da­tion had to be a spay surgery which is risky enough in a larger pet, but in a ham­ster it has the addi­tional chal­lenges of being such a small pet. The own­ers opted to go for­ward and we sched­uled surgery for the next day.  The next morn­ing, prior to surgery, I called the owner to give an update on the pet’s sta­tus and the plan and the owner revealed to me the impor­tanced of this ham­ster. It belonged to their daugh­ter who was diag­nosed with epilepsy and this ham­ster was given to her at the time of diag­no­sis. It was a source of emo­tional sup­port for the daugher and fam­ily. After this, I felt more pres­sure than nor­mal to do my best for this fam­ily. We pro­ceeded with the surgery and the ham­ster remained sta­ble under anes­the­sia. The uterus took up most of the abdomen and was filled with white fluid. I was relieved to remove the entire uterus with­out it open­ing up and poten­tially releas­ing bac­te­ria through­out the abdomen. Once the ovaries and uterus were out, I flushed the area lib­er­ally, sutured her closed and we woke her up. The ham­ster was a trooper and did amaz­ingly well. Two days later it was able to go home and con­tin­ued to thrive. The recheck visit was such a great visit in that the ham­ster was doing so well at home and had recov­ered. It is amaz­ing to think how much impact this tiny lit­tle crit­ter had on so many peo­ple. These are the cases that make it all worthwhile.