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Finding A Veterinarian Knowledgeable About Hamsters

Follow these tips to help you locate a veterinarian for your pet hamster.

By Kevin Wright, DVM, DABVP (reptile and amphibian)
Posted: January 10, 2012, 6:20 p.m. EST

hamster squinting
© Gina Cioli/BowTie
Don't wait until your hamster is ill to find a veterinarian who has experience treating hamsters.

It’s important to find an experienced veterinarian who treats hamsters before you need one. A good starting point is the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians and its online directory of members. While membership does not guarantee any special skills of a veterinarian, it does indicate the veterinarian has an interest in small mammals. There are very few boarded specialists in companion exotic mammal medicine but those who are can be found using the search engine of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners.  [Another resource is the listing of veterinarians at SmallAnimalChannel. – Eds.] Follow-up this research using local online reviews but remain skeptical of any reviews that seem wildly different than the others. A single bad review may represent an unusual situation; likewise, a single very positive review may be unusual.

Finally, place a call to the veterinarian’s office and ask three simple questions that will assess the practice’s overall hamster acumen: 1) On average, how many hamsters are examined at the practice in a week? 2) What should I put on a wound on my hamster’s back? and 3) How much does a hamster spay cost?

What The Answers To The Hamster Questions Tell You
How many hamsters are seen each week? Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital, which I co-founded, averages 10 hamsters a week, but this is a specialty hospital in a densely populated, large, urban area. If you live in a smaller city, even the most experienced local "hamster veterinarian” may only see one or two hamsters a month, if that many. If you are not comfortable with the experience of your local veterinarian, you may need to drive quite a distance to find a more experienced veterinarian.

What should I put on a hamster’s wound? A veterinarian or veterinary technician should never recommend Neosporin or any other ointment that contains neomycin and bacitracin, because those antibiotics cause life-threatening diarrhea if swallowed by a hamster. Even the small amounts that may be ingested licking at ointment on a small sore can trigger this serious condition.

How much does a hamster spay cost? This is a good question to ask because many less-experienced veterinarians will refer this surgical procedure to a more experienced veterinarian. If they are comfortable doing spays, they are comfortable working with other hamster medical conditions.

Check out the Hamster Health Center for information about hamster ailments, click here>>

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