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Date:   17 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
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CASE 1: Digital Evidence of a dwarf hamster's bite wounds - Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
First written: 18 January, 2009 
ate:  17 August, 2010 ) 
Be Kind To Pets
Veterinary Education
Project 2010-0129
Further to my report on "Are there canine spirits?" the breezes continued to be gusty for the next few days. The following case was a result of gusty winds in Singapore. 

A lady spent her lunch-time brought in a small barred cage with her Roborovski hamster running around. A hamster owner had referred her to me. She said:  "He no longer climbs the bars of his cage and he walked with his left paw up for the past 1 week. What is his problem and what should be done?"

"How did he hurt himself?" I asked. He lived with his sibling in the same cage as the owner wanted both of them to keep each other company. The lady shook her head: "A strong wind blew his cage fell off the table and he became lame. His cage is near the window."

"How did it happen?" I was puzzled. "A strong wind just blew his cage off the table?"

"Not exactly," the lady elaborated. "The wind blew the window blinds. The blinds moved back, hit the cage and it fell down the table."

"Does the Roborovski bite people?" I asked.
"No," she said. "He cannot be caught as he runs so fast."

I wanted to examine his left fore paw closely but how to do it?
The speedy 6-month-old Roborovski wriggled out of the lady's hand in less than 3 seconds and landed on the consultation table. "Catch him before he falls off the table!" I helped the owner to corner him.
She tried to hold him a few times while I examined the hamster and took some pictures.

"Did you see the left front paw is more swollen than the right?" the lady with the greyish-blue glossy flowered nails asked me. Her blue nails and a small wound in her finger were distracting but I was able to see 1 small red circular wound at the bottom of a swollen hamster left paw. Were it a bite wound?

As my assistant was away for lunch, the lady helped me to photograph the paw by shining the flashlight at the left paw while she held the hamster with one hand. The hamster would have no restraint and kept wriggling free.

We persisted. "Digital photography helps in the diagnosis and review of cases," I said. For this hamster, the ordinary digital camera or handphone would be useless. I used the speed setting while the lady did her lighting for me.

In this case, the diagnosis was likely to be puncture wounds as I reviewed the photography. It was only one of the 20 pictures I took that helped. If you click on the thumb-nail below you can see two circular wounds in the lower part of the swollen left fore of the hamster. They appeared to be bite puncture wounds.      

"Separate the hamsters," I advised. "The other hamster could have bitten him."

"The two hamsters keep each other company and they are close friends," the lady said. 

"Separate him from the other hamster for the next 7 days to enable his paw to heal," I advised.

"Will the other hamster accept him when they stay together again? Once, he escaped and was found a day later."

"Did the other hamster accept him?" I asked.

"The Roborovski hamster matures around 5 weeks of age. He is now 6 months old and there may be fighting and biting over territory."

By now, the hamster was not so active. I needed to see whether he could walk and groom himself. " I went to get the hamster cage. The lady put the hamster onto the blue tray of the hamster cage. The speedy one was still running up and down but could not climb. He used two front paws to clean himself. As the lady shone the flash light, I managed to catch one good picture of him looking at me. But his normal right front paw was not forward enough to show readers that it was not swollen.   

The hamster was given medication and advice to be isolated on soft tissue bedding for 7 days. The lady had to rush back for work. One digital photograph enabled me to see 2 circular wounds on the ventral aspect of his left fore paw. So were these bite puncture wounds caused by the sibling? I believe this to be the case. The owner probably believed it was the gusty wind that did it.

Only this Roborovski hamster know. He would not tell tales even if he could communicate with his kind lady caregiver who took the time and trouble to get him checked out by the vet. I could see the swelling and one wound when the lady held the speedy hard to catch hamster.

The second wound was revealed by the digital camera. Two wounds indicated a bite from the upper and lower incisors of the siblings. Perhaps, during the fall of the cage, the sibling got frightened and bit his sibling.

Speedy young roborovskis take a much longer time and patience to be examined. They just are too fast to catch and never stay still for a few seconds.    

Hamsters may fight when they mature. It is best to separate them from 5 weeks of age or if they fight. 
CASE 2:  Hamster Warts
People do get skin warts in their hands and feet. Recently a young man I know well went to the hospital to get his hand warts deep frozen a few times in order to remove them. The doctor used liquid nitrogen to freeze and kill the viral papillomas. For this hamster, surgical removal was done.    
Skin warts in hamster in Singapore. Toa Payoh Vets Skin warts in hamsters Get them removed by your vet early. Toa Payoh Vets

Dwarf Hamster. Stye and Haematoma. Needs surgical treatment, not medical. Toa Payoh Vets2 cases. Ineffective medicine for chest swelling. Is it necessary to treat the hamster's chest swelling?

More case studies, goto: Dogs

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Be Kind To Pets
Veterinary Education
Project 2010-0129
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