Recently, the pet hamster named Peter that my brother & I adopted from a rescue organization developed a small growth on one of his hind legs. The growth got bigger and my brother & I became concerned for our hamster’s well-being, so we decided to take him to a vet that specialized in exotic & small animals. The vet gave him a quick check-up and then informed me that Peter actually had cancer and the growth we were seeing was a malignant tumor. I was very saddened by this news. After weighing our various treatment options, we decided that pain management was the best-we would give Peter small drops of liquid pain medicine until he was having “more good days than bad days,” and then we would have him put down.
Over the next few weeks, I had the opportunity to share the sad news of Peter’s cancer diagnosis with friends, family, and co-workers. Much to my shock and dismay, pretty much everyone I mentioned the news to offered up their own idea on how I could kill Peter without paying for proper euthanasia services. People suggested freezing him, cutting off his head, and even running over him with the wheel of a car. I couldn’t believe that so many actually thought it was appropriate for me to euthanize my hamster on my own. Obviously my friends hadn’t spent much time with hamsters, because if they had they would know that hamsters are friendly, inquisitive individuals with feelings and the capacity for pain just like you or me.
We enjoyed Peter’s company for another month until the tumor got so large that he was having trouble getting around. At that point, we called the vet and set up his final appointment. When I got to the vet’s office, I had the opportunity to say goodbye to Peter before he was taken in the back to be put down. The vet explained to me that Peter would first be put to sleep using anesthesia gas, and that after he was sleeping he would be given a lethal injection with a needle. The euthanasia procedure took only about 15 minutes and cost $30. We got to take Peter’s body home and give him a proper burial near a creek by my house.
If you have a pet hamster who is sick, please do not try to euthanize him on your own. No matter how quick what you have planned may be, taking your hamster to a veterinarian to have him or her put down is the only humane form of euthanasia. Some vets will simply give your hamster a lethal injection without putting him or her to sleep first. Try to avoid this as a needle stick can be a very traumatic experience for a hamster. Instead, look for a vet who will use anesthesia gas followed by an injection-this will ensure your hamster has a quick, completely painless passing into “hamster heaven.”