Welcome

Welcome to Dashing Hamsters. I created this website back in 2005, initially to have a place to share my love of hamsters. Throughout the years I have come across a lot of information that just often doesn't match up. Care standards and information are outdated, and these little creatures are misunderstood by many. So I decided to make this website as more than just a hamster lover's website, but a hamster website for modern owners who are looking for up to date advice on how to care for and understand their beloved hamsters. On DH you can learn about hamsters, see some cute pictures and read through a hamster filled blog.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

First Aid Kit

No one can ever really predict when an emergency will strike and hamsters seem to be really good at falling ill or getting hurt at odd hours making it difficult to find help when you really need it. A First Aid Kit is important to have on hand for such times or even for minor occurrences that can be taken care of at home. Below I have compiled a list of items that would be helpful and in some cases mandatory in a  first aid kit. I included some things that probably aren’t one hundred percent necessary (such as the nebulizer), but would be helpful if you could obtain it. Most things should be obtained just in case however and while this kit may not be able to be put together overnight, effort should be made to fill it in before you actually need it.

  1. List of exotic vets in your area: This list should include any vets that may be able to help including a emergency vet. Research into the quality of the vet in the field of rodents should also be done beforehand so that you do not waste time going to someone who is not competent. Written for each vet should be their name, phone number, emergency number (if available) and address.
  2. Storage Container: A box or container of some sort to keep all of this in one spot will make everything just so much easier. To make things easier when you need to act quickly keep this container organized.
  3. Money: You never know when your hamster will fall ill or become injured and exotic vets are not known for being cheap. Having a fund for the vet handy is very, very important.
  4. Q-tips: are handy for applying topical medications and for cleaning out eyes or ears.
  5. Oral syringes: Handy to feed medication, water, rehydration solutions, liquid food, etc.
  6. Fine tweezers: These are good for removing foreign objects from wounds.
  7. Hot water bottle/ Heating pad/ Heat lamp: Very important to have on hand to keep a cold hamster warm while they are ill, post-operation, during shock or after “hibernation” (see hibernation on the Health & Illness page for more information).
  8. Nail Clippers: This are great for trimming overgrown nails, most people recommend that baby nail clippers are used as they are often easier to handle.
  9. Surgical gauze, pads, bandages, first aid tape: Used to cover wounds, slow blood loss and to keep the hamster from bothering their wound for the short term.
  10. Toothbrush: Hamsters are very tidy animals and when ill they are not always able to groom themselves as they once did, especially long haired Syrian hamsters. A toothbrush is handy to have to gently brush your hamsters fur, it may also have a calming effect which may help relieve stress.
  11. Bayer’s Keto-Diastix: This is a necessity for anyone that has a diabetes prone species (Chinese, Russian Campbell dwarf, Winter White dwarf, or hybrid) in order to test your hamster’s glucose and keotone levels. Bayer’s is a bran name, any urine test strip (not blood) for humans should work just as well.
  12. Bitter apple spray:  can be applied to keep hamsters from bothering their wounds as the taste is quite unpleasant.
  13. Cotton swabs: Can be used to stanch bleeding, clean wounds and apply topical medication.
  14. Ear/Eye wipes: used to clean out ears or eyes.
  15. Sanitary wipes: another item that is useful to clean minor wounds or to even wipe down your own hands quickly
  16. Scissors: Handy for cutting bandages to size or for trimming fur around a wound.
  17. Travel/ Hospital cage: A cage or aquarium that will allow you to bring your hamster to  and from the vet easily is great to have on hand. As for the hospital cage, it is more important when you have a group of hamsters, as the ill or injured one may be picked one while ill or could be contagious (depending what is ailing them).
  18. Gram scale: A scale is very beneficial to have on sand should you have to weigh medication. More commonly it is best used to weigh your hamster. Weighing your hamster daily and keeping a log can help you detect signs of illness early on.
  19. Nebulizer: This can be used to turn medication into a fine mist that can then be inhaled. I am not certain which medications this would be bets used for, be sure to consult your vet before trying this. It likely isn’t something that the average hamster owner will need, but is something to keep in mind.
  20. Latex (or any medical grade gloves) gloves: For your own safety and to keep contamination to a wound or to another animal at minimal risk.
  21. Small Towel: This can be used to help keep your hamster warm or to help constrain them safely.
  22. Hand Sanitizer: While washing your hands before and after working with an ill animal is best, hand sanitizer works well in a fix.
  23. Penlight: Allows for a more detailed examination or a wound.
  24. Magnifying glass: To help you get a better look at wounds.
  25. Black Light: to distinguish blood vs. porphyrin, not exactly necessary but it can be helpful.
  26. Saline solution or eye cleansing drops (ex: Polysporin for eyes): This is good to have on hand to flush eyes from debris and ease irritation.
  27. Olive Oil/ Cod Liver Oil: Helpful for relieving constipation, one to two drops orally or on some fresh food should be enough.
  28. Unflavoured Pedialyte/ Recipe & Ingredients for Rehydration solution: Unflavoured Pedialyte should be able to be obtained from a pharmacy/chemist and should be used 50/50 with water to help rehydrate a hamster. Otherwise you can use the following recipe, it works too:1 tsp of salt
    3 tbsp sugar
    1 quart warm water
    It can keep for 48 hours if refrigerated.
  29. Water: Can be used to water down the Pedialyte.
  30. Manuka honey UMF +16: If dabbed on a wound topically daily than this honey can help the wound heal and stay clean from infection. Some have called it almost magical as it works so effectively.
  31. Pure organic Aloe or Aloe vera plant: This is great for irritated wounds, burns or stings and will help relieve discomfort and help heal. If you have a plant then simply take a leaf and rip it in half and apply the gel-like substance that comes from the leaf.
  32. Chlorhexidine: This is an animal-safe disinfectant, it can usually be obtained from a veterinarian.
  33. Fresh thyme: Thyme has a multitude of uses such as cleaning a wound, aiding in respiratory distress, keeping infections at bay, etc. For wounds you simply need to make a tea with the leaves (I’ve used dried thyme for this with success too) and allow it to cool and than apply to the wound twice daily until the wound is healed. For respiratory issues, simply putting it near your hamster or allowing your hamster to breath in the steam of the tea is said to help. Some have even mentioned allowing them to drink the cooled tea in order to reduce stress. It might be beneficial to simply have a thyme plant on hand so you don’t need to run out to get fresh thyme when ever it is needed.
  34. Revolution/ Invectermin , parasite treatment: This is always nice to have on hand for mites, lice, or other parasites. I use Revolution myself with much success and it is easy to apply, the only concern is that it is made for dogs or cats and must so then be measured out for the right dosage. For my hamsters it worked out to about one drop per hamster each treatment. Revolution in unopened tubes also have a long shelf life. I recommend topical treatments over powders, sprays or baths as they are quick, clean and not stressful to your hamster.
  35. Epsom salt: Epsom salt mixed with luke-warm water is a good way to clean wounds and flush out debris from wounds. I have also found it useful as a solution to aid with abscesses by making a paste to draw out the puss and to keep it clean. I use the Epsom salt with warm water to create a paste to put on the abscess for 10-15 minutes twice a day. (If the abscess is near the face or isn't going away after a week or so then I would get your ham to a vet and not take any chances.).
  36. Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda): when used with a wet compress this can help to reduce swelling.
  37. Benebac or plain yogurt: Benebac can be found at most pet stores and is a powder that can be applied to fresh food or mixed with water to maintain beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract that antibiotics can also kill. Directions for use are on the package. Plain yogurt can be fed daily as well for the same reasons.
  38. Styptic powder or flour: Great for if you cut the quick with trimming nails or for other toe injuries. This will help to stop the bleeding, toe wounds can bleed a surprising amount!
  39. Ensure, Baby food/cereal: This is great for weak, ill, old, young hamsters or hamsters with broken teeth (or other teeth issues). It can help them build their strength and get the food that they need.

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