Vets Clinical Research
Making veterinary surgery alive
to a veterinary student studying in Australia
using real case studies and pictures
Should the vet treat hamster warts with oral medication?
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
29 April, 2010
Be Kind To Pets
remember you did house-calls to a house in Ewart
Park 30 years ago?" the mother brought in a
2-year-old hamster with a wart and 2 yellow upper
eyelid abscesses asked me.
"I do remember Ewart Park," I said. "It is one of
those secluded exclusive quiet leafy housing
residential areas. You were a baby then" I could
not recognise this mother of two teenaged
daughters. "I wasn't a baby," she laughed.
I was joking with her. She was a teenaged girl
when I did the house-calls. At that time, I was 29
But I remembered a Pekinese with maggot wound in
the nose area and happy children running up and
down a terraced patio, if my long-term memory
served me right. I had never been to Ewart Park
since. This was such a long time ago and now this
teenaged child is a mother of teenagers.
hamster looked thin and was a bit dehydrated when
the hamster skin remained upright when pulled. But
this hamster was very well cared for and was still
active. He wanted to exercise but just could not
reach the wheel. He would just fall off. It was
not a laughing matter and the mother lowered the
wheel for him.
How to excise the wart completely? Freezing or
just use scissors to cut it off at the stalk? I
wanted to use electrosurgery to cut and kill off
any surrounding wart viruses and stop bleeding.
Cutting off usually leads to bleeding, so
electro-surgery which coagulates and cuts is
useful in this case.
But would this old hamster be able to stand to
electro-surgery and not die of a heart attack
during the procedure? I asked my intern Tanya to
stand by with the camera and take a picture as I
electro-incise the wart. "It will be less than a
second," I said. "Be ready snap the picture as I
cut." Well, Tanya managed a second too late and
got a picture of the wart after cutting. Better
As for the upper eyelid, I would not use
electro-surgery as the area is too near to the
eye. I used small scissors to snip off the
abscess. There was a gap in the right upper eyelid
of 1 mm x 2 mm but the wound healed well the next
"Why do you board the hamster at the pet shop?" I
asked the mother who was glad to meet up with me
after 30 years. "Did he get the wart after
boarding?" The domestic worker was frightened of
the hamster and so he was boarded when she was
overseas. She did not know when the wart appeared
but judging from the long finger nails of the left
fore paw, it could be a few weeks.
The second day, she visited with a new packet of
Japanese-made hamster food and paper litter. This
hamster was on a flooring of big solid pellets
which I consider sharp and rough for this paws.
But these big pellets were absorbent and not so
occur in older hamsters. As to why, I don't know.
It is best to get them excised when they are
small. Warts don't disappear with oral medication.
However, not all Singapore vets will do it for pet
owners. Instead, some may give you medicine
for the hamster.
Hamster warts grow bigger daily. They never
disappear and the hamster may try to bite them off
if they are present in the paws. The hamster is
irritated and stressed by their growth and
infection. As to why some vets merely prescribe
oral medication when presented with hamster warts,
I just cannot understand the rationale. Each
vet has his or her approach to treatment in a case
but all vets should be careful about the legal
consequences of straying from the standard
treatment of warts.
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Be Kind To Pets
All rights reserved. Revised: April 29, 2010
Toa Payoh Vets