Posted: October 17, 2014, 1:40 p.m. EDT
© Gina Cioli/I-5 Studio
If a hamster's activity level drops suddenly, he might have a medical issue requiring veterinary care.
Q: I think my hamster was attacked by my cat through his cage but I'm not sure how long ago. The wound is dried up and there is no bleeding, but I wanted to see if there was any safe way of cleaning it to make sure it doesn't get infected and heals properly. The wound is about the size of a nickle and the fur is missing. My hamster is behaving normally, but I just want to make sure he is going to be OK.
A: If there is a wound, meaning a break in the skin, your best choice actually is to visit your veterinarian as these wounds can become life-threatening. Cat claws can pierce into the skin and deliver a dose of bacteria under the skin and cause an infection you cannot see in your hamster.
This may not be the case in your hamster but it is always a worry with cat scratch injuries. Signs of infection would include redness around the wound, swelling around the wound and acting lethargic.
We are also very cautious about putting antibiotic preparations on the skin of a hamster, because they have a tendency to lick these medications. The ingredients in these creams can cause gastrointestinal upset.
In the majority of cases, superficial wounds without a break in the skin will heal on their own. If you have any worries about this at all, it is best to see your veterinarian.
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