Blk 1002, Toa Payoh Lor 8, 01-1477, Singapore 319074Tel: +65 6254-3326, 9668-6468,,
Focus: Small animals -dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, pet rats and mice, birds and turtles      
November 06, 2020




Two Case: Subconjunctival Abscesses in Dwarf Hamsters   
Case 1 - First written: Sep 15, 2008
Case 2 - First written: Apr 28, 2015
Updated: Nov 6, 2020

Case 1.

Hamster 1.5 years old. Eyelid abscesses 3rd recurrence. Why? Toa Payoh Vets

Hamster 1.5 years old. Eyelid abscesses lanced. Thick pus. Toa Payoh Vets

Hamster eyelid abscesses lanced 4 days ago. Goes home. Needs proper nursing, hygiene. Toa Payo Vets

Hamster eyelid abscesses lanced 2 days ago. Toa Payoh Vets.

The Hamster has swollen eyelids again. "Doc, I will go bankrupt if I continue consulting you," the young lady was worried. "This is the 3rd time in 2 months I have to bring my hamster to be treated."

I was amazed. The eyelids of the hamster puffed up again. Full of solid creamy pus that was drained during the past 2 visits. It is an uncommon condition. Why was this hamster having such a problem? Was it his poor immune system due to his age or something in the environment? Why did the bacteria go for the eyelids?

Abscesses in hamsters usually are cheesy in character. Usually the hamster's eyes become closed due to the stickiness nature of the pus acting as glue. But in this case, the hamster's eyes did not have pus. The pus was inside his eyelids!     

Spend time to clean his water bottle, water bowl and cage regularly. A lack of hygiene in his sleeping and eating area caused this hamster to have eyelid infections. The owner saw me 3 times for the same problem.

In her case, she wanted the hamster to drink from the water bowl as the water bottle was leaking. The hamster had to dig into a high feed bowl which is commonly used by Singapore hamster owners too. I presumed the food debris from the hamster's mouth contaminated the water bowl. The water had bacteria and since the hamster drank from the high water bowl, the bacteria got into his eyes and the eyelids.

After switching to the water bottle and personally nursing the hamster using the eye drops, the lady owner did not go bankrupt as the hamster recovered.
I can imagine that the hamster had to rub his eyes after drinking water from the bowl. Some water could have splashed inside the eyes, together with the food dust, causing eye itchiness. Hence, more rubbing of the eyelids, causing infections to get inside the eyelids---forming eyelid abscesses.


Case 2.

How to prevent a hamster's subconjunctival abscess from recurring

The owner wanted the hamster home on the same day as the treatment of the abscess some 5 weeks ago. She disputed that I had advised her how to do post-discharge care. I had told her verbally to use a cotton bud tip to rub above and below the skin wound to express out the pus, daily. In this way, any residual pus would be let out and the abscess would not recur. She only put eye drops.     

This article teaches owners how to handle this problem and to prevent the abscess from recurring. 

A small skin incision heals too fast if the owner does not express the pus on the second day. There will be pockets of pus still inside the skin. So the abscess recurs. This video shows how an abscess is treated by me at Toa Payoh Vets. Isoflurane + oxygen gas anaesthesia is used here. The whole process of lancing, curetting, irrigating and draining the abscess takes around 5 minutes. The hamster is OK and will be an in-patient for 2 days.

On Day 2, I reviewed this gentle chubby hamster. I expressed more yellow pus from the incision wound. By inching out the residual pus, the wound can heal without another abscess popping out in the next week.

The owner phoned and her male friend came to check the hamster. She asked whether the hamster could go home. I said no. Hamsters are family members and so the lady owner did not want her in-patient but would not want to pay for a recurrent abscess.   


The vet must let the owners wanting to bring the hamster home on the same day, they will have to bear the responsibility of post-discharge nursing and to pay in full should the hamster recur. This should be in writing to prevent any misunderstanding of the responsibilities of post-discharge care and much unhappiness in having to pay again for treatment. 

This hamster stayed 2 nights in-patient and was cleared of pus on Day 3. She went home and should not have any recurring abscess within the next 2 weeks.


Toa Payoh Vets