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Question
hi there, my daughters hamster broke its leg last week... we live in a VERY rural area with one vet. when i called them to beg for an appointment they stated very clearly that they do not treat hamsters. they told me that i could bring him in to be put down but other than that they would not see him.  At first when we noticed him limping his leg was red and he was dragging it, i tried to inspect his leg and he wouldnt let me at all.  he is now eating and and drinking, walking around, climbing on things so we thought he was on the mend.  he is trying to play and is back to his old personality.  but when i cleaned his cage today i got a chance to inspect he leg, there is clearly a bone sticking out.  my question to you, knowing that the vet will not fix him... is the bone unmendable?  should he be put down even though he is back to his old spunky self???? or is there something that i can do to save our beloved hamster????

Answer
Hi Cassandra

Thanks for your question. I'm sorry to hear about your hamster,

Broken bones can heal on their own providing the bone isn't protruding and the circulation isn't affected. . It is important for the hamster to rest so you must remove any wheel, ladders etc from the cage. . if you have a glass tank then that is better so that the hamster  can't climb at all. Put food and water close by his nest so he doesn't have to walk far. It can take about 4 weeks to heal.

However if there are complications such as bones sticking out or impaired circulation a vet would probably need to intervene  and often they amputate the limb. In captivity a three legged hamster is fine - you just have to modify their living space. A hamster does not need to be put to sleep because of a broken leg.

Although generally you never want an animal to be in pain the problem with giving pain relief is that he will be tempted to use it but if he is in pain he won't be.

If you can't find a vet who will treat him then I would suggest you modify his house so that he has to rest. Keep his leg clean so that any wound doesn't infect. There is always a chance that he might gnaw the leg off so don't be shocked if he does this - If this does happen make sure it is kept clean. It might be worth not using wood chip for a week or two as you don't want this getting into his wound. Instead just use paper bedding but you will need to clean him out every day or two, if the leg does come off and there is a stump he will never be able to run in a wheel as this will inflame the wound.  If you feel you want to give pain relief you either need to get Metacam drops that are prescribed for dogs - the dose is half a drop once a day. Alternatively you can give a tiny amount of aspirin - 1/25th of a tablet which is tiny grain - dissolve in water and give through a dropper.

If you are able to track down a vet who is prepared to treat him and who knows how much anaesthetic to give a hamster and the leg is clearly not healing or is getting worse then it is definitely worth getting him checked and probably having the leg removed.

I hope this helps you. If you would like to email me your mailing address to hamster.lady@virgin.net I will happily send you a  copy of the book I  wrote about hamsters with my compliments which might help you in the future.

Regards
Sheila

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Sheila Adby

Expertise

Syrian hamsters are my specialty, however, I have kept Campbells,Winter Whites and gerbils in the past. I can advise on most subjects associated with hamsters, including housing, bedding, feeding, handling, new borns and catching escapees. I have had some experience of various health problems with hamsters and can offer my opinion and advice on basic health issues, however I am not a qualified vet and therefore cannot recommend drugs etc. My website is www.thehamstersite.com

Experience

I have been keeping hamsters and other small animals for more than 12 years. My favourites are Syrian hamsters and I foster litters and 'difficult' hamsters for a rescue centre. My job is to tame hamsters ready for re-homing, which is extremely rewarding. I also enjoy looking after new litters and raising the pups. I have co-written a book on hamsters with my local vet and have a website: www.thehamstersite.com

Publications
Hamsters in Sickness and in Health - Sheila Adby and Dan O'Neill ISBN186163218-5 (Capall Bann Publishing)

Education/Credentials
Educated to A Level standard in the UK.

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