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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 24391
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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I brought my daughter a Syrian Hamster at Xmas from a pet

Customer Question

Hi, I brought my daughter a Syrian Hamster at Xmas from a pet shop. Past week Alls she has done is literally sleep. Very little movement or she moves from one place to another and sleeps. I have noticed she's still eating and drinking and very bloated. I took her to the vet yesterday and she said there is a good possibility that she has cancer as she has bloated out.
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: The vet said they can operate but will cost between £100 to £200, which I just don't have and very unlikely will survive the surgery.
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Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 9 months ago.

I'm sorry to hear of this with your hamster. How old were you told that she was when you purchased her? Multiple thin-walled cysts of variaying sizes are occasionally found in the livers of hamsters. Initially affected hamsters show no clinical signs but as the cysts enlarge, affected animals show abdominal enlargement ("bloating"), diffuse alopecia, and wasting. Such animals are generally over 2 years of age, however, and cystic proliferations may be found in other abdominal organs. The lesions are caused by developmental defects of the bile duct rather than a cancer. You mustn't consider surgery or, in fact, treatment of any kind. Unfortunately, she'll need to be euthanized once you deem it appropriate to do so.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
We was told she was 4 months old when we brought her a few days before Xmas. It looks like she has poo blocked (sorry for being so blunt) just wondering if there is anything more we can do before we have to put her to sleep. She's a beautiful hamster very tame and is part of the family now. Would it be worth contacting the pet shop from where we got her?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
All so would she be in any pain? Once she is awake and had a drink and food we get her out but not for long to let her have a run about to try and keep her mobile.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 9 months ago.

Have you noticed if she's defecating regularly? Constipation is rarely encountered in hamsters. In fact, enteropathies (gastrointestinal disorders) evidenced by diarrhea are the most common problems seen in pet hamsters. Pet shops are rarely the best source of information when it comes to medical problems in these rodents. I don't know of any conservative approaches to either hepatic cysts or cancers. I believe that the vet you consulted yesterday would have offered treatment if it were reasonable to do so. I believe that her behavior - somnolence (sleepiness) - does indicate discomfort. Pragmatically speaking, caring for her as you've doing makes the most sense. Should she become anorexic for more than 3 days, you'll have a difficult decision to make.

Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Thank you for your advice I was hoping there might have been a chance for her, I guess the kindest thing to do it let her go as much as it's going to be devastating for my daughter and the rest of the family. I will also consult the chain pet shop that I brought her from as we've only had her 6-7 weeks. I will see how she goes over next couple of days and do the right thing. Thank you again.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 9 months ago.

I understand. I wish I could be more encouraging. I can't set a follow-up in this venue so please return to our conversation - even after rating - with an update at your convenience.

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