Tuesday, December 3, 2013

18. Dec 3, 2013. Updates and new blogs

Updates and new blog are at: 1. www.toapayohvets.com goto "hamsters" 2. http://2010vets.blogspot.sg

Hamster teeth

Dental formula is 2(I1/1 M3/3) = 16
Incisor grows continuously

Sunday, April 25, 2010

17. Steroids on hamsters

To: judy@toapayohvets.com
Date: Saturday, April 24, 2010, 5:28 PM


My name is XXX, I have been to your place before and I have 2 hamsters that require some medical attention.

Both are about 2 years old, 1 male and 1 female.

Male suffers from having skin lesions and pus filled abcess in skin folds, I clean him regularly and he is on prednisolone, his conditions fluctuate between good and bad, my previous vet has suggested to keeping him in a high dosage of steroids to keep the inflammation and growth down since not much can be done and he is rather old. However recently he has been losing alot of weight and the situation is worse.

The female one has been very healthy for most of 2 years. However she likes getting into fights. She has a little wound above her right eye cause by a fight that simply wouldnt heal. However, the major problems that she has a pus filled growth in her mouth, it was originally very small and on the outside(with no pus), so I also started her on prednisolone. Only this week did I really she was walking weirdly and lethargic, upon further inspection I realized her her mouth sacs were swollen and there was solid pus on the growth. I cleaned off the pus with cotton wool. Also she has a deep red swell on her abdomen, near her right leg. I use the same syringe for both hamsters, but I wash it before feeding medication to each of them. Also, she bit me about 2 weeks ago while I was feeding her, as I pulled away she fell off from about half a meter on the back.

I was wondering if you will be free for a consult on monday evening.

I can be contacted via


I am Dr Sing. From what you described, the infections have overwhelmed the hamsters due to your use of steroids. I will be available during office hours. If you wish, you can leave the hamsters in my Surgery for daily check and treatment rather than just do it yourself.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

16, Cheek Pouch Coming Out in a Dwarf Hamster

Jan 3, 2010

From: ...@gmail.com>
Subject: Hamster Cheek pouch
To: judy@toapayohvets.com
Date: Sunday, January 3, 2010, 10:43 PM

Dear Doc Judy,

We have a 8 months old hamster which has a cheek pouch problem. Since last night, her left side cheek pouch was hanging outside her mounth. She appears to be in pain. We used the cotton bud to push her cheek pouch back into her mouth. She appeared fine after that. But early this morning, when I wake up to check on her. the same problem appear.

What should we do?

Appreciate your help and advice.


Jan 4, 2010

On Mon, Jan 4, 2010 at 7:30 AM, David Sing wrote:

I am Dr Sing. Your hamster may need surgery.


Jan 4, 2010

From: ...@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Hamster Cheek pouch
To: "David Sing"
Date: Monday, January 4, 2010, 12:53 AM

Dear Dr Sing,

Thank you for the prompt response.

What is the chances of survival under surgery for a small animal like hamster?
How long will it take and how long will it take to heal?

What is the estimated cost involved?

Thanks in advance.

Jan 6, 2010

Chances of survival are hard to say just via e-mail as I have not seen the hamster. Every hamster is different. Healthy and good conditioned dwarf hamsters do not usually die under anaesthesia.

Surgery and anaesthesia to excise the infected or gangrenous cheek pouch and stitch up the cut ends, takes around 20 minutes if there are no complications. It takes around 1 week for healing in most cases.

In January 2010, the estimated total cost is around $150 depending on the time needed to do surgery, anaesthesia and antibiotics. Hospitalisation is $5.00 per day if necessary.

15. Hamster anaesthesia and surgery at Toa Payoh Vets. 2 queries.

From: ...@yahoo.co.kr>
Subject: Hamster and Hedgehog anesthesia
To: judy@toapayohvets.com
Date: Tuesday, January 5, 2010, 7:16 AM

Jan 5, 2010

Hello Dr Sing Kong Yuen,

Happy new year!

I'm very impressed "be kind to pet" of your homepage and operating small animal clinic in South Korea.

I have poor experience about exotic pets and especially anesthesia of them.

May I(as beginner) ask favor of you about pre-eminent experience at exotic medicine?

I have pyometra patient in hedgehog and scalp laceration at font head in hamster.

Could you recommend anesthesia protocol(inhalant and injectable) each.

Hamster with amputated leg by cage had been experienced irratic and deep breath, and death in anesthetic chamber. Other hamster was not maintained enough to do surgery with ketamine 40-120mg/kg only.

How do you evaluate anesthesia depth and deal with problems.

I have general patient monitor for heart rate with alligator clips and pulse oximeter.

Could I use it in rodent?

Do you usually use absorbable suture at skin and why ?

I appreciate you in advance!

Be happy and wealthy!

Keep Healthy!

Sincerely yours,

January 6, 2010

I am Dr Sing from Singapore, not from South Korea. My surgery is www.toapayohvets.com. I don't have hedgehog patient. The following applies to dwarf hamsters mainly. For Syrian hamsters, the same principles of close observation apply.

For sick dwarf hamsters needing surgery, I use isoflurane gas anaesthesia (plastic container) at 5% for around 1 minute, but close observation of the hamster is the key to success.

In other cases of healthy hamsters for tumour removal, I use Zoletil 50 as little as 0.01 ml IM as sedation. Then I use 5% isoflurane gas for less than 20 seconds and take out the hamster from the gas container to operate. If the hamster moves, I repeat the gas anaesthesia. Then I take it out to operate. Operation room must be warm to prevent hypothermia. If you have a cold operating room, you need to reduce the temperature or switch off the air conditioning during surgery. Hamster should be as dry as possible.

In this way, I maintain the surgical anaesthesia to operate. Most surgeries are less than 10 minutes. I have not used ketamine or other injectable anaesthesia except Zoletil on dwarf hamsters, so, I cannot share my experience with you.

Surgical anaesthesia levels are very difficult to assess in the dwarf hamster unlike in the dog and cat. Close observation of starting eyelid closure, movement and breathing rate is extremely important as there is a very high risk of anasthetic death if the vet does not know what he should observe or being too busy doing surgery.

You may need to have a very good veterinary assistant to help you observe the anaesthesia while you do surgery. But you should be able to know too when the hamster moves.

I don't know whether you can use pulse oximeter on dwarf hamsters. I use absorbable 6/0 or 7/0 sutures to stitch the hamster's skin so that owners don't need to come back for suture removal.

I hope this e-mail answers your questions.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

14. Corynebacterium in a dwarf hamster?

This dwarf hamster of around 2 years of age lives life to the fullest. He does not stay still for me to take a good picture. He has to be on the move, trying to escape from the cage. Even though my hospitalisation cage has no bars, but just plain glass.

This hamster personality reminded me of people with a "Type A" personality. Burning a candle at both ends and achieving performance, productivity and profitability if the person is on the right path.

Are there "Type A" hamsters in this world? If there are, I presume that his immune system has no chance to repair. So the viral warts came in and build warts in his right ear lobe. Then warts appear above his purulent swollen nose. Yet he was still active. With a swollen infected nose, he now found it painful to eat.

Could I resolve his problem and bring him back to health? You can't ask a hamster to meditate and find the path to enlightenment.

I had to hospitalise him. Gave him antibiotics daily. Got his warts cut off and stop the bleeding by cauterisation with potassium permanganate powder. The firm round abscesses in his lower body and legs popped up like solid globes. He had a bacterial infection of the blood stream and yet he was still alive. This bacteria localised under his skin and formed virulent abscesses. More than ten of them. What bacteria is it?

To reduce veterinary costs to the lowest, I did not do bacterial culture and antibiotic sensitivity tests. Many Singaporean owners don't even get their hamsters treated as they feel that vets are "expensive".

"The hamster has lost weight," a young teenaged girl commented when she came with her family on Christmas Day to bring the hamster home after 7 days of nursing and treatment. I did not reply nor felt the need to defend myself.

Sometimes, silence is golden for me. After all, the hamster had a very serious infection and the parents and 3 family members were happy to see a great difference in the health of the hamster. It was a miracle that he was still alive as most hamsters would develop a sticky wet skin-filled pus and skin rot. This hamster's bacteria would be a different type.

The various pustules and abscesses just reminded me of Corynebacterium in sheep. Some 40 years ago when I was an undergraduate in Glasgow University, I had to study sheep bacterial diseases. At the post-mortem room of the University, the lecturer showed us an ewe carcass with abscesses all over the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, kidneys and spleens. Solid abscesses like what I saw in this hamster's skin. The sheep's condition was called Caseous Lymphadenitis and the bacteria was called Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis.

Caseous lymphadenitis was a wide spread disease in mature sheep due to shearing wounds during my time at Glasgow. At abattoirs, such infected sheep carcasses are condemned. This bacteria also causes polyarthritis in sheep involving one or more leg joints. It produces pus about the joint and in this hamster, there were some abscesses around its joints too.

I wondered whether Corynebacterium in sheep is still a prevalent disease in the UK sheep industry in 2009? Farmers were advised to shear lambs first, disinfect the shears between sheep.

Singapore has no sheep farms although Muslims do import sheep from Australia. I have not done any veterinary practice on sheep for many years. Is Corynebacterium still present in sheep in Australia where most of our Singapore students are studying? Apparently this gram-positive rod-shaped bacteria is widely distributed in nature and are mostly not harmful. C. bovis causes mastitis in cows. C. diptheriae causes diphtheria in people.

Could this hamster be suffering from Corynebacterium? I google "Corynebacterium in hamsters". There was one Japanese laboratory report of Corynebacterium kutscheri isolated from the oral cavities of aged Syrian hamsters. See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1658468.

In private practice, it is possible to get the bacterial cultures done and make the owner pay for it. But laboratory testing would increase costs 10X the price of a new hamster.

As it is, the bill for treatment and 7 days of nursing was around $200 and may be considered by some owners to be too much. An additional laboratory cost may mean that this poor hamster will cost over $300 to be treated. So, he will not get any treatment again.

The vet has to be aware of the economics of hamster veterinary practice and try not to send tumours and bacteria for laboratory analysis in an effort to reduce veterinary costs for the hamster owners.

In undergraduate life, our professors recommend laboratory tests and all tests to reach a diagnosis. In real life, hamster and many pet owners in Singapore try to look for "inexpensive" vets. They discuss about veterinary charges in internet forums. Inexpensive vets can't perform, be productive or produce profits over the years. They will just have to do something else after a couple of years. He has to survive unless he is very rich and can ride out the first few "under-cutting fee" years to build up a good clientele and sustain their business model.

With rising costs, it is extremely difficult to be a cheap vet in Singapore nowadays. New vets undercut my professional fees to get large numbers of patients. Older vets may need to retire to pasture if they can't compete on prices. Ironically, the more experienced the older vet is, the less demand for his services from many price-conscious pet owners due to under-cutting of prices by new vets. Competition is great for the consumer, no doubt about it.

Beauty and youthfulness attract but experience is valued in matters of life and death. Add "cheap services" to beauty and youthfulness and this is a powerful marketing combination for a start-up veterinary practice.

One young vet starting practice was described as "eye candy" in the internet forum. Well, that is a USP (unique selling proposition) for this practice. The picture of this vet was posted by fans. Fantasize and fantastic fans? You are young only once, enjoy the fans but don't fall to temptations and be a "Tiger". I am not talking about "Tiger" beer.

Updates and more pictures - goto www.toapayohvets.com, goto "Hamsters".

Monday, December 7, 2009

13. 3 stories - Sexual performance in dog, hamster and man

I have recently encountered 3 cases which seemed to be on separate topics when I recorded them in a draft form. Now, after reading them, I note that they are linked by the theme of "Sexual Performance". Do you agree with me?

STORY NO. 1. The non-performer male Cocker Spaniel.
Two Cocker Spaniels with no dog licences. "The AVA officials went to the house to check, saying somebody had complaints about his dogs." No dog licences. $200 per dog compounded fine. 2 Cocker Spaniels will be $400. Owner can appeal. If not, go to court. Maximum fine is $5,000 per dog without licence.
"Appeals are always offered in such cases. But you must have good reason," I said. "Otherwise, you will get a reply saying sorry. Can your daughter write a good letter?" I asked. The young girl who was quiet was studying Literature in the National University of Singapore.

"It is quite rare to meet a Literature undergraduate," I said to her. "Most Singapore secondary schools have dropped the "Literature" subject for "O" levels. The School Principals have to perform to get promoted. Literature is a hard subject for most students to pass. So Principals discard literature to achieve more top A grades. We will produce a generation with not much love for the craft of writing." I asked whether her course includes journalism. "I don't study journalism in the course," this young girl informed me. "Journalism is mass communication."

To apply for a dog licence, goto www.ava.gov.sg. Scan microchip form from vet. Pay $14.00 for a sterilised dog. $70 for non=sterilised. This Cocker Spaniel was
9 years old. A male 18 kg. He never produced puppies from the other female who was also overweight. "The female just sat down when he tried. Then he gave up too." I advised, "You ought to slim down the male in the early years to give him a better chance of success."

Now the female of another client was on heat. She was 3 years old, weighing 8 kg. My client had yesterday asked me if I had access to male Cocker Spaniels. Some professional dog breeder would have it. But as the HDB in which 80% of Singaporeans have this strange rule of prohibition of Cocker Spaniel in HDB apartments, there is not much production of Cocker Spaniels from the professional breeder.

So, I introduced both of them to each other as I don't have other male cockers for the client with female on heat. One professional dog breeder proposed Cavalier King Charles male stud. But my client was not too keen to produce crosses. He wanted purebred Cocker Spaniels but this 9 year-old introduction. Could he perform? In home breeding, bring female to male. Slimming down the male would have given better chances. Help the male in mating. Artificial insemination.

STORY NO. 2 - The Cougar.
Flower supplier in the wet market. "I have no money," she said as she brought in her Jack Russell for her annual vaccination.

65 years old. Trim and slim as in those slimming advertisement of famous celebrities and stars, but no photo-shopped changes unlike the advertisements. A sprightly woman who looked after her body well. Jack Russell is the constant companion. "How you get the flower supplier to sell you flowers?" I asked. Supplier started dumping poor quality flowers. She switched to other supplier but the others don't have the varieties. No supplier provide such varieties of flowers. Nice to the seller's delivery person so that the girl gave her good quality flowers.

"I was spayed," she said. "If I had died during anaesthesia, my husband would have benefited." In Singapore, buying a HDB apartment requires a family unit. In this case, she had the money but needed a husband to be eligible. So, she found one but he was older. He would do. But she definitely does not tolerate his infidelity.

I was surprised to hear the word "spay" applied for women. Faithfulness of husband who is into gambling, wine, woman and song was now in doubt. "He likes to peep and see women the "node" from behind the door. "What do you mean?" I could not understand.

"Likes to see women in the node," she reiterated. Ah, I get it finally. She meant "nude." If you pronounce "rude" as "rude" correctly, then "nude" ought to be pronounced as "node". English is a difficult language to master. I asked, "Why would a man do that with a mistress?" She said, "He can't do it." No need for explanation. Maybe Viagra was not invented then.

A husband with no income and who is a philander. Depends on wife for his daily bread. So, she took action, "I wanted him to take his name out of HDB list or get out." I asked, "Why would your husband oblige you?" I asked. "I gave him money after he took his name out." She kept her promise and he moved out. He died soon.

Is she a cougar? So what? "I have a younger man as my boyfriend. More energetic and cares for me"

A young man indeed. I was happy for this dynamic woman. Many women of her age have put on weight. She made me feel overweight too. Her personality shone through. This man was in his late forties came to pick her and her dog up in a truck. I went out of the surgery and I waved to him.
How much does this flower seller make after expenses? "$500 is my best net income," she said. "$500 per day?" I asked. "No, $500 per month". High rentals of a market stall eat up a lot of income.

"Know the trend," she said to me when I asked how she was still around despite the fact that she had difficulty getting good suppliers. "Learn how to be creative," she said. "I know how to string the flowers in a design that pleases the customers. I have a big clientele base. Some refer friends and some order on behalf of friends. So, how can I retire?" I know of Singaporeans who retire to smell the roses. Or are forced to retire at the age of 62 as what has happened to my banker.

I learnt something from a humble flower seller that day. What I learnt is that I must be aware of the trend in Singapore's small animal practice. More practices are set up by younger vets who are more in tune with the younger generation. They have more energy. More hungry and cheaper. I can't compete on price war and volume. Long hours burn out the vet as they are very stressful. The vet must have a clear mind to perform too as diagnosis is not so simple. Long hours just cloud the mind. This would be suicidal in the long term, for the vet and for the pets. So, what to do? Be creative like the flower seller. How to do it? That's the $64-million-dollar question. Basically, read widely, associate with other industry to learn their best practices, network and know what you are doing and do it well like the flower seller who created flower arrangement so well that customers flock to her.

P.S. "Cougar" is a term used to refer to an older woman befriending a younger man.

The commando dwarf hamster.
An undergraduate male brought 2 hamsters to me on 15.11.09.

1. 4 overgrown incisor teeth diverging 45 degrees on both. This dwarf hamster, Female was just 2 months old. I clipped the teeth short. "The teeth grows normally now," the young adult said to me when he came to pick up the 2nd case.

2. 2nd case. F, 1 year. Roboroskvi. 3rd litter 3 weeks ago. "The male escaped like a commando by climbing up the roof and getting down into the lower floor of the cage," the young man explained how he got the 3rd litter out of this Roboroskvi with thick matted hairs all over her body. One breast was swollen with yellow pus. I attributed the matted hairs to the male biting her during sexual performance or rejection.

On Dec 2, 09 this female could go home with only a scab on her forehead. This scab would drop off. She had been warded for 17 days and it would cost the owner some $105 which is a large sum if you are calculating. Dwarf hamsters can be had for free. The young man took the trouble to e-mail camera pictures of the babies. Poor resolution but he took the trouble. He really loves his hamsters. He was pleased that the female had recovered.

Daily cleaning with warm water to soften the matted hair and scabs. Antibiotics oral. "Be careful," I said to my assistant Mr Saw as he placed the hamster for me to take photograph on the 17th day before she goes home. "This Roboroskvi hamster can shoot off the table in the wink of an eye." This species runs faster than a Ferrari sports car from start to 100 km. He knew about he was just not quick enough. As he placed the hamster on the towel which was on top of the table, the dwarf hamster suddenly sped off in the blink of the eye and landed on the floor. No injuries. A tall tale? Never take your eyes off the Roboroskvi for one split second. I hope Mr Saw learnt from being hands on.

To prevent mating, he housed the male on the lower floor of the 2-level cage. "So that he can't climb up the plastic walls to breed her." the young man said.