Last year, the hamster I had adopted from a local Maryland rescue organization suddenly got sick. He developed a large lump on his leg, and while he didn’t seem to be in any pain and wasn’t having any problems moving around, we grew concerned as the lump grew bigger. After about a week and a half, the lump had grown so large that we decided to take our hamster Peter in for a visit with a veterinarian who had experience with exotic, small animals. It didn’t take the vet long to look at Peter and tell us the bad news: the lump was actually a cancerous tumor. I was so sad…Peter had lived with us for 2 years and had been perfectly healthy, and now I learned he was terminally ill. We could have opted to have his leg amputated, but unfortunately surgery was not in our budget and we were worried about how it would affect his quality of life. The vet told us that pain management was the best route, and prescribed us a drug called Metacam that is a pain reliever for hamsters, and is also thought to slow the development of tumors.
Metacam came in a small tube and was a liquid medicine almost the consistency of a thin syrup. The dose of Metacam we were supposed to give Peter the hamster was 1/8 of a milliliter per day, which is a very, very small amount. That’s basically 1/8 of a “drop.” In order to give the Metacam to our hamster, the vet also provided us with a small liquid syringe, which had a small hole on the end instead of a needle. It was tricky to get just 1/8 of a drop in the syringe. I found you had to suck almost a full ML of the Metacam liquid, and then squirt out the extra amount to give the hole dose. Holding the syringe upside down and flicking it with your fingers will help remove any air bubbles that are present.
The Metacam has a sweet, honey flavor to it, so we were able to just hold our hamster Peter in our hands, hold the syringe near his mouth, and squeeze out the small droplet of medicine that he quickly licked up. It was almost like it was a treat for him. If you find your hamster doesn’t readily lick up the Metacam, you can also squirt the droplet of liquid medicine on a small crumb of bread or cake that you feed to your hamster.
On the Metacam, my hamster was comfortable up to his very last days, and I’m sure it bought us a few more weeks with a beloved pet. If you have any questions or problems with the Metacam your vet has prescribed for your hamster or other small rodent, be sure to contact their office for further instructions. This article is by no means a substitute for qualified medical advice from a licensed veterinarian.