Jacob is an activist & writer living in D.C. He loves sharing his unique expertise on a wide-range of health & lifestyle topics.
When My Hamster Got Sick, the Vet Prescribed Metacam
A few years ago, I adopted a small orange hamster from a local Maryland rescue organization who I named Peter. For a couple of years, Peter lived with me happily and was in good health. Then one day I noticed a large lump on one of his hind legs. Although the appearance of this strange growth was a bit alarming, he didn’t seem to be in any pain so I wasn’t overly concerned. After awhile, however, I began to grow concerned as the lump started to get bigger.
After about a week and a half, the lump had grown so large that I decided to take my pet hamster Peter in for a visit with a veterinarian who had experience with treating exotic, small animals. It didn't take the vet very long to give Peter a quick examination and tell me 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. I could have opted to have his leg amputated, but unfortunately the expensive surgery was not a financial option for me at the time. I was also worried about how having a limb amputated would affect his quality of life. The vet told us that, in lieu of surgery, pain management was the best route, and he prescribed a drug called Metacam that is a pain reliever for hamsters, and is also believed to help slow the development of tumors.
I Was Puzzled By Metacam Dosing
When I picked up the prescription from the pharmacy, I will admit I was a bit puzzled. Metacam came in a small tube and was a liquid medicine almost the consistency of a thin syrup. The dose of Metacam I was s'upposed to give Peter the hamster was 1/8 of a milliliter per day, which is a very, very small amount. To put that in perspective, that is basically 1/8 of a "drop."
In order to give the Metacam to my hamster, the vet also provided me with a small liquid syringe, which had a small hole on the end instead of a needle. It was difficult to get just 1/8 of a drop in the syringe. I found the easiest way to draw this dose into the syringe was to pull a full milliliter of liquid into the syringe, and then squirt the excess back into the bottle until I had my precise dose. I also discovered that holding the syringe upside down and flicking it swiftly with my fingers a couple of times helped to remove any air bubbles that were present, allowing me to dose my hamster with his medicine accurately.
Administering This Medicine to My Hamster Was Easier than Expected
The prescribing veterinarian explained that the Metacam had a sweet, honey flavor to it, which my hamster would naturally be drawn to. I found that this was true. I was able to just hold my hamster gently in my hands, hold the syringe near his mouth, and squeeze out a small droplet of medicine that he would quickly lick up. It was almost like it was a treat for him. I was grateful he didn’t hate the medicine. My veterinarian also told me that I could add the medicine to food if I had a problem giving it to my pet. If find your hamster doesn't readily lick up the Metacam, you can try squirting the droplet of liquid medicine on a small crumb of bread or cake that you feed to your hamster. Food does not affect the absorption of this medicine in your hamster’s system.
Metacam Kept My Hamster Comfortable In His Last Days
I found that the Metacam did seem to make my hamster more comfortable. He seemed to be more energetic and able to morve more freely with the medicine. Ultimately, the tumor on my small animal’s leg did continue to get larger, but the medicine made sure my hamster was comfortable up to his very last days. I also personally believe it bought me a few more weeks with a beloved pet.
Ultimately, I had to euthanize my hamster because of his cancer. But I am happy I was able to provide him some comfort towards the end and a painless, merciful crossing of the “rainbow bridge.” 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.
- Giving your Hamster Metacam - Vectis Hamstery
This article shares some additional tips & tricks to help you give this popular medicine to your domesticated hamster.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.