Euthanasia Issues for Hamster Owners

Most hamsters die in their sleep.  Usually this occurs due to old age or because of an underlying, undiagnosed condition.  However, some hamsters grow older and then begin to suffer from health issues that are not able to be cured or controlled.  Although it is not pleasant to think about, sometimes the best thing is humane euthanasia.

Many people are opposed to euthanasia for different reasons, but when faced with the prospect of a loving pet’s suffering, they are unsure of what to do.  It is best to think about these issues when there is not a need so that if the need arises, a decision will not be made under stress during an emotional time.

Sometimes love means having the compassion to end a pet’s pain.  Pets are loved members of the family, every bit as much as cats, dogs and other pets.  Children can especially have difficulty understanding end-of-life issues and will have many questions and concerns.

Here are some guidelines to follow when making this difficult decision:

  • Establish the problem.  Get an accurate diagnosis from your hamster’s veterinarian before making any decision.  There could be a simple solution to a health issue your pet is having.
  • Separate the ill hamster from the rest of your pets.  This will not only help prevent the spread of any possible illness, but it will make your sick hamster more comfortable.
  • Clean and sterilize his housing area.  It is possible that whatever is affecting your hamster is as simple as a contaminant in his cage.  Clean the cage thoroughly and disinfect it.  Replace all bedding and food.  Change the water.  See if this makes a difference in your pet’s health and behavior.
  • Keep your hamster in a quiet area.  Do not have him in the busiest part of the house.  Having your pet in a quiet area will help relieve stress, which is critical for his good health.  Do not allow children to tap on the cage or disturb his sleep.
  • Limit handling of your pet.  If your pet is ill, do not move him unnecessarily and do not keep picking him up to play.  Stress the importance of this to any children in the house.
  • Consider the age of your pet.  Younger hamsters have a much greater ability to bounce back and recover from illness.  Older hamsters are less resistant to disease and often are weaker.
  • Discuss your options with a veterinarian.  Your pet’s vet can make an accurate diagnosis and prognosis concerning your pet’s health.  Ask about all treatment options a discuss the methods of euthanasia for your pet.  Ask your veterinarian’s opinion about euthanasia as an option and whether or not is it warranted.  If you do choose euthanasia, make sure that it is done by a veterinarian.  Your vet will make sure the procedure is painless, quick and humane.

Finally, allow time to grieve.  Pets are loved by all family members and should be mourned.  Encourage children to talk about their feelings and do not offer to buy another pet just  to make them feel better.  Let them work through their feelings.