Owning a sick pet is never easy, even when that pet is as small as a hamster. It's even harder when euthanasia becomes a possible treatment option. Ending an animal's life is never a pleasant option for any animal lover, especially when that animal is a loved member of the family. Though, sometimes, that love means ending unneeded pain. Hopefully, this guide helps to make that decision a bit easier.
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Establish the source of the hamster's problem. Analyze recent behaviors and the animal's surroundings to determine whether the problem stems from possible illness or an injury. If you determine your hamster is injured, seek veterinary help as soon as possible.
Separate the ill hamster from any other hamsters to avoid spreading possible illnesses to healthy animals. Clean the cage thoroughly and sterilize as much as possible.
Keep the ill hamster in a quiet area to lessen stress and provide it with plenty of water. Monitor the symptoms of illness closely.
Seek veterinary help if the symptoms do not improve or worsen. Take the animal's age into consideration. The average life expectancy is three years.
Determine, with the help of a trusted veterinarian, if euthanasia is the best option for your hamster. Since they are small, hamsters often worsen quickly and may be beyond help once their illness becomes apparent.
Inquire about the possible euthanasia procedures, to ensure that they use the most humane option. The most common, and humane, procedures are an injection of a euthanizing solution or administering inhaled anesthesia or carbon dioxide.
Allow yourself to grieve. Even short-lived pets find their way into their owners' hearts. It's totally normal and acceptable to grieve for this pet as much as a longer lived cat or dog.
Tips and warnings
- Some signs of a sick hamster are a change in temperament, soiled or wet bottom or tail, sunken and/or dull eyes, loss of weight, labored breathing or movement.
- Diarrhea, resulting in a wet-looking bottom and called "wet tail," is especially dangerous in hamsters. It progresses quickly and usually results in the death of the hamster.
- Euthanasia should only be done by a veterinarian to ensure that the animal is put to rest as quickly and, most importantly, painlessly as possible.