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Old 06-28-2022, 02:14 PM   #11
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Default Re: Hamster Euthanasia </3

Hello there. I've had to do this with a few of our hamsters. I did a lot of research as the first time I couldn't come to terms with it at all. Now I think it's the kindest thing you can do when they are suffering.

Not all vets do use gas anaesthesia but my vet says they won't do anything else because they feel it's kinder (and so do I).

It is exactly the same as if they have surgery. It's just anaesthetic gas so they go to sleep. Not only are they asleep but it means they are also anaesthetised so they don't feel pain. I think it's the kindest way. They just go to sleep and and don't know anything about the injection.

Yes the downside is you can't be there if they have gas. But I personally wouldn't have the injection done without anaesthetic (and there are vets who will do this - it's more vet policy than a legal thing).

In terms of them going into a tank. I don't worry about that. I have a snooze cube - a fleece hide - that they all love. They happily walk into it and snuggle down to feel safe, when in the vet examining room, and the vet takes that and puts the snooze cube down in the tank. Our hamsters have usually been pretty weak at that stage as well and not interested in anything other than being safe in the snooze cube. Our last but one syrian could only just manage to get into it.

So they are in a nice, familiar cosy, enclosed fleecy house and just go to sleep. If the hamster did suddenly decide to climb out of the snooze cube they would just be in an empty tank - just like being in a treatment room for examination. But they would go to sleep so quick they wouldn't have more than a few seconds to even explore it.

Hamsters are tiny things and it only takes the tiniest bit of anaesthetic gas to make them go to sleep. In fact it's why surgery has to be so carefully worked out so they don't give them too much anaesthetic.

The other thing I found out in my research, which I like, is that many many times, the hamster actually passes under the anaesthetic gas before the injection. Because they are usually weak and unwell. And the dose would be a bit higher than for surgery.

The vets still have to give the injection because their protocol says they have to, to ensure that actual death has occurred (in case the hamster didn't quite pass under the anaesthesia and came round later - which would be awful.

I think sometimes imagining it makes it worse than it is - it's not like some kind of torture gas chamber - it's just the normal anaesthesia process like they do when doing surgery.

I noticed you're in the north of England. So am I. Although that's a very big area! But if you message me I can tell you who our vet is.

I didn't have a vet the first time and rang round a few and was horrified to find most of them don't give gas first - even if you wanted it. And some are very blase about hamsters. It sounds like you have a good vet.

I'll link the snooze cube - all our hamsters have loved them - it's plenty big enough and just has a small entrance. There's another small entrance/exit at the side in one of the seams. I always close that one off with a bulldog clip first so they don't climb out the side while the vet is carrying them in the cube. Easy enough to put your hand over the front.

Even though you can't go with them, they usually give you some time to say goodbye in the examining room. I find usually I've already done my goodbyes on the way there and I'm more concerned with the hamster feeling secure being handed over to another person so I just talk normally to them and say - you're just going with this nice lady for a bit. They don't know they're not coming back. But that's just me.

Hamsters do know when they're ready to go as well and sometimes they get to the stage where you've left it too late and it's an emergency and they are screaming in pain.

Metacam can only relieve pain so much - it's not enough for cancer pain.

We had a robo with cancerous lumps that got bigger. It was too much of his body area to operate. It also affected him being able to walk. I changed his cage so he could manage and he continued to eat and be active but looked awful he had lost so much weight. He then started to chew at one of the lumps and the vet told me I needed to let him go. She said when they chew at the lump, they're trying to amputate it because of the pain. And they lose weight, even if they're eating, because they're just feeding the cancer.

It's so unfair, but when they get older, they often do get something wrong with them.

Maybe you have something similar to the snooze cube?

I have the two on the top right of this page. It's the Homer mini ones - they have loads of space inside for a syrian (or a dwarf) and it fits in my guinea pig sized pet carrier. The standard ones for rats are far too big!

I use it for taking them to the vets generally as it's easy to lift them in and out of the pet carrier in the snooze cube. Providing you've bulldog clipped the back exit or they can jump out the back.

Fuzzbutt "Homer" mini hammocks and cubes for mice, hammies, suger gliders
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Old 06-28-2022, 02:18 PM   #12
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Default Re: Hamster Euthanasia </3

Just to add - surgery isn't always an option, and even when it is, it's a personal decision, depending on the age of the hamster. Our last syrian had surgery for a small scent gland tumour removal at 21 months. It all went well but it was a stressful process. He had to cope in a little hospital cage for a week, loads of changes and upheaval. He had umpteen vet visits - the initial one, then the op, then a post op check up. All extra stress.

And all along he had secondaries and ended up with a horrible eye swelling and had to be put to sleep in the end.

Some people, with older hamsters with tumours, just let them live out their lives comforably until it comes to a time when they need help to relieve suffering - rather than put them through stress of surgery (if they are 2 or over). At 21 months I thought our hamster was ok for surgery. But in some ways I wish I hadn't and just let him enjoy his last few months.

When it's cancer they nearly always need to be pts - not always, but usually. It's relieving their suffering - cancer pain is horrible.

My vets don't do the injection in the heart either - they do it in the liver - which is why gas is needed first as the injection can take longer to work. That is just their protocol - anaesthetic and injection to the liver. If there was no anaesthetic and into the heart I think it would be awful - even if quick. Fear and pain.

As for burial or cremation - that's an individual thing. Our first hamster came home with us and was buried in the garden, but I have to say I found that incredibly hard. Bringing him home no longer alive. The second time I opted for individual cremation and that worked better for me. I could pick up the ashes a week or so later, after coming to terms with it. However I was shocked how expensive it was! It cost me about 90. I've done cremation with all of them since except one who died in his sleep. With him I wondered if I should have had him pts - he was dying for a couple of days. But then he went.

I still have the containers with the ashes. I was going to scatter them but kept putting it off, so they're all lined up on a shelf

Some people bury them in the garden and plant a shrub or plant there. I did this the first time. Some people bury them in a large pot and plant a plant in the pot. It's a natural way. If you do that, put some large stones in the bottom of the pot first.

I am so sorry about your little brother and I'm sure he's watching over you.

Whatever people say about euthanasia - it is the only option for a hamster who is suffering. There are very few licensed medicines for hamsters. Metacam is a pain relief medicine but not enough in later cancer stages. Hamsters are very good at hiding pain and can still be suffering.

You will know when it's the right time. I was very anti the idea initially, on principle. But I've changed my views now I know more. Ideally we would have hospice care for hamsters, as with humans, keeping them pain free to the end, but it isn't possible as there aren't the medications for that in such a tiny pet.

I think anaesthesia and sleeping is the next best thing.

Last edited by Serendipity7000; 06-28-2022 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 06-28-2022, 03:15 PM   #13
Ria P
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Thumbs down Re: Hamster Euthanasia </3

Originally Posted by jessandflo View Post
Ria P: Thank you so much for sharing your experience and I'm really sorry for your loss! Was a gas chamber or a mask used for your hamster? I think I'm feeling unsure about it because I've now read that you can't be with your hamster if they use gas first. Maybe I can request it... I hate not knowing exactly what's going to happen. Maybe I should try and speak to the vet that will be doing it so I can feel more at ease about the situation!

Really appreciate your take on this, thank you x
I just wanted to add that my hamster looked peaceful, with her eyes closed. She looked asleep in her eternal sleep.
There were no signs of fear or distress on her face.
Housemate of Rory & Rodney & Jack & Clive & Scottie
& lodger Finley
always in my thoughts Percy, Henry, Gordon, Edwina, Clarissa, Betsy, Ozzy, Monty, Romy and Gertie
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Old 08-02-2022, 07:33 PM   #14
flower pot
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Default Re: Hamster Euthanasia </3

Originally Posted by jessandflo View Post

The vets obviously use the gas anaesthetic because it's the most peaceful way for her to go - am I right in thinking the gas has oxygen in it? The lady on the phone described the gas chamber as like "a little tuppaware that has a lid with a hole in it" as a way to try and comfort me. Instead I'm freaking out thinking that they're going to put her into a tiny little box and I'm worried about Flo feeling claustrophobic. I've never used a hamster ball throughout her life because of this fear.
Hi, I have never had to put my hamster down (so far).
I feel sorry for you and decision you have to make, but prolonging hamster's suffering would be cruel.

As for anaesthetic gases - most of them have air or simply are the air. Anasthetic air is just the medium and sedative (actual medicine, which makes drowsiness/unconciuiness) is added to it.

Alternative for the hamster would be dying in a massive pain, if the tumor is cancerous.
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