Before adoption, make sure the hamster is friendly

Question: How to find a good hamster for our daughter? Her friend is bitten by a hamster, and we do not want that. Also, do hamsters need vaccinations?

A: Veterinarians often call hamsters, gerbils, mice, rats and guinea pigs pocket pets. Because hamsters lead a nocturnal lifestyle – they are active at night and sleep during the day – and many of them bite, you can choose a different type of pocket pet for your daughter.

However, if she aspires to have a hamster, first look at a local animal shelter or a pocket pet rescue organization. Adoption counselors know the temperament of each hamster and help choose a gentle one with a cute character.

Most hamsters in the United States are Syrian hamsters, also known as golden hamsters. Because they are usually nimble, especially if not fully awake, your daughter should always be gentle and make sure her pet is ready to interact so that the hamster learns to play well. Most hamsters are alone, so advise your daughter and her friend not to date them.

Hamsters and other pocket pets do not require annual vaccinations like cats, dogs and ferrets, but they should visit a veterinarian for an examination each year. Your veterinarian can detect problems early if treatment is likely to be successful, and will advise on nutrition and other care.

For example, most of a hamster’s diet should consist of rodents or pellets and fresh water. Do not feed mixtures to rodents, as their seeds and nuts contain too much fat and too little protein and calcium.
Offer a small amount of hay daily to ensure adequate fiber intake. Let’s have small portions of fruits, leafy greens and other vegetables once or twice a week.

Entertainment is also important. Hamsters love tube-shaped toys such as cardboard rolls of toilet paper, plastic shelters that simultaneously act as berths, mazes and wheels for training. The running surface of the simulators should be firm so that your hamster does not break your leg while stuck in a circle.

Question: I recently adopted a small puppy of a mixed breed nicknamed Cupid. She’s adorable, except for one disgusting habit: she eats her own and other people’s poop when I can’t stop her.

Sometimes I cling to her and start kissing her, only to be repelled by her breath. What should I do?

A: Cupid has coprophagy, the Greek denotes food (“-phagia”) of feces (“copro-”).
While everyone is in favor of recycling, caprophagous dogs go too far. On the one hand, dogs that eat feces also ingest any parasites and microscopic worm eggs.

The cause of coprophagy, or coprophagy, is usually behavioral, but it is important to rule out the physical causes of Cupid’s habit. Ask your veterinarian to examine her and do lab work. Take a fresh stool sample for analysis for parasites.

If your vet rules out physical causes, Cupid’s caprophagia is probably behavioral.
Walk her on a leash and get rid of her feces right after she defecates. Teach her to “leave” so she can avoid the excrement of other dogs without approaching them. Praise her and reward her with a treat when she turns away from her own and others ’feces.

Boredom or anxiety can contribute to coprophagy, so offer safe chew toys and other forms of environmental enrichment. If you have a fenced yard, walk Cupid elsewhere at least once a day. If she has to go out into her own fenced yard alone, put on her muzzle-basket with a guard stool.

A sound diet and monthly deworming are also necessary to prevent coprophagy. Feed twice a day at the same time so you can predict when Cupid will defecate.

If these measures do not work, make an appointment with a certified veterinarian.

Lee Pickett, AMD, specializes in companion medicine in North Carolina. Contact her by phone

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