Vectis Hamstery and Exotics

Exhibitor and Breeder of Chinese Hamsters, Syrian Hamsters and Duprasi

Giving Medication to Hamsters

It can be a daunting prospect to be tasked with giving a hamster medication for the first time.  If you don't feel confident, it is worth getting someone else to help you. Vets and vet nurses can give you advice on administering medicine too.


Sometimes medications are prescribed to put in hamsters' water. I prefer to give them directly with a syringe so I know that the dose has been taken. Also, the most common antibiotic used (Baytril) tastes really bad and can put them off drinking water if it's in the bottle.


Here are a few methods I have found useful.

Swaddling


Wrap your hamster in a clean tea towel so the paws are inside and the head is poking out. Hold the hamster in the towel and with the other hand (or the other person) gently place the syringe into the hamsters mouth and slowly squirt the medication in.


Make sure the end of the syringe is pointing towards the pouch to reduce the risk of squirting the medication into the hamster's airway.

Scruffing


Hamsters have a lot of loose skin around the back of their necks which allows them to fill their enormous pouches. This can be used to hold the hamster to administer medication. It should be done firmly but gently. The hamster's body should be supported so that all of the weight is not on the neck. 


If you are new to scruffing, one person can hold the hamster and the other place the syringe in its mouth. Like in the swaddling method, make sure the end of the syringe is pointing towards the pouch to reduce the risk of squirting the medication into the hamster's airway.


The hamster was not harmed or distressed in taking this picture or video.

Bribery


Doses of medication can be mixed into very small amounts of baby food and offered on a spoon. Make sure there is only the amount that a hamster can eat in a few minutes so you know that the full dose has been taken. This is a less accurate way of giving medication than the others I have described.


The porridge in this photo was being offered as a treat. Smaller amounts should be used for giving medication.

Asking nicely!


This isn't a method that works often, but it's lovely when it does. Some hamsters will lick medicine when it's offered in a syringe, as long as the medication doesn't taste too foul. My hamsters particularly like to lick Metacam (anti-inflammatory) straight from the syringe.