Friday, May 2, 2014
VIDEO PRODUCTION FOR NICK. The Aunty's dwarf hamster will not eat. The Aunty's dwarf hamster tilts his head
Many Singaporeans address Chinese women much older than themselves as "Aunties". These are women usually older than 40 years of age. The senior citizens would dress in a certain conservative fashion. They would wear short-sleeved blouses and trousers. They are usually more conversant with the dialects or Mandarin. They don't surf the internet to look for hamster vets as they don't use computers.
(WET MARKET SCENES OF AUNTIES IN TRADITIONAL BLOUSE AND SLACKS)
So, I was much surprised to see an "Aunty" who lived quite distant from Toa Payoh, bringing a plump snow white dwarf hamster to Toa Payoh Vets for consultation instead of going to the practice in her neighbourhood. Nowadays, there are over 60 veterinary clinics as in Taipei where it is so convenient to find a vet.
"Mimi, does not want to eat, " Aunty said. "She would scatter the seeds and pellets with her front paws instead of eating them nowadays!"
"Her head is tilting to the left," Aunty pointed to Mimi's left side.
VIDEO OF HEAD TILT
I could see that Mimi loved food as she weighed much more than the average hamster. She was filled up and was as round as a big hen's egg. So why was she not eating? The head tilt would be painful and she would not be able to grasp the seeds properly and eat.
Dr Daniel anaesthesized Mimi, checked that there were no embedded seed fragments in the cheek pouch and irrigated the ears. After 5 days of oral medication, Mimi recovered.
Yesterday on May 2, 2014, this Aunty brought Brownie, a one-year-old male dwarf hamster to consult me saying "He is losing weight day by day, unlike Mimi you treated last week.He weights 38 grams today. Every day, I gave him water by syringe as he would not eat, unlike Mimi who weighed 72 grams when you saw him."
"How's Mimi's head tilting nowadays?" I asked Aunty.
"She is OK now."
"No more head tilting?" I asked.
"None at all. After 5 days of medication, her head is upright and she eats."
This was good news as it is difficult to treat head tilt in hamsters and rabbits as there are many causes.
I weighed Brownie. He was indeed 38 grams. His body looked long as he was very thin. My first diagnosis would be ingrown front teeth and so I opened Brownie's mouth. I saw two upper front teeth growing backwards and upwards hitting the hard palate. The lower front teeth were short and normal in wear.
"He cannot eat because his upper front teeth cannot bite the seeds as they are overgrown and have curled inwards and upwards," I said. "This is the second case as I just treated another hamster with a similar malocclusion problem. Clipping his teeth will resolve his not eating problem."
VIDEO OF THE FIRST CASE OF HAMSTER WITH INGROWN UPPER TEETH AND SURGERY DONE BY ME
As for Brownier, Dr Daniel anaesthesized him and clipped the teeth and got the action videoed for Aunty.
VIDEO CLIP OF SURGERY
Aunty was delighted to view the clip.
FOLLOW UP THE DAY AFTER SURGERY
Today, a bright blue sunny Saturday morning of May 3, 2014, I phoned Aunty. "Is Brownie eating?" I expected a positive reply.
"Yes, Yes" she said happily. "He ate a small piece of Brocolli. I need to buy something for him to chew. Do you know? He bit me when I tried to clean his belly button!"
"If Brownie can bite, it is good news," I said. "He should be able to crack open the sunflower and melon seeds. Chewing such seeds will be more useful as his teeth can wear down.
"I need to buy him a chewing toy," Aunty said.
Some hamster owners buy mineral blocks or wooden sticks for the hamster to chew upon. In this way, the hamster does not chew on the wired cages, making them rusty.
VIDEO OF CHEWING BLOCKS AND WOODEN BLOCKS FOR HAMSTERS
A hamster's tooth grows continuously and if it is not worn down by eating hard food, it grows and grows and curves inwards or sideways as this was what had happened to Brownie and the other hamster.
CONCLUSION OF THE CASES
The inward and upward growing of the two front teeth in these two hamsters is an uncommon condition. During the past years and treatment of a few hundred hamster cases at Toa Payoh Vets, these are the first two cases of malocclusion of teeth in dwarf hamsters. Good anaesthesia is essential as the tip of the tongue of the moving hamster may be accidentally cut off if the vet does not use anaesthesia thinking that he or she can just grip the hamster and snip off the ingrown teeth.
These two hamster cases illustrate the diversity of illness and diseases even in the dwarf hamster. They make a day of veterinary medicine filled with surprises and challenges. The vet has to "deliver the goods" to sustain and grow his practice.
For this Aunty, she told me that her niece had referred her to Toa Payoh Vets as the niece's hamster was treated with a good outcome. So, it was not the internet that brought her here.