Hamster Health Care
When cared for properly, Hamsters are quite sturdy animals in terms of their health. But there are several hamster health issues that every Hamster parent should be aware of. In this article, we will mention the common hamster health issues that can affect your pet hamster. If you have any doubts about your hamster’s health, always check with one of our Vets at Al Barsha Veterinary Clinic. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a huge difference in recovery of your pets’ health.
The main cause of Abscess is a wound from a bite or other injuries. This is a wound infected with pus forming bacteria. The pus is accumulated under the skin, forming lumps. Sometimes these lumps start draining on their own. But most often it will require a Vet to drain and flush the Abscess. You may need to continue flushing the wound at home by the Vet advice. The Vet will prescribe antibiotics as well to help fight the bacteria.
Like in humans, Diabetes can affect Hamsters. Diabetes is caused when the body doesn’t produce insulin or the insulin cannot break down the sugar. The signs of Diabetes are frequent urination, excessive drinking of water, sudden weight loss or weight gain.
If you notice these symptoms, consult your Veterinarian as soon as possible. All fruits, high carb treats, and high carb vegetables should be avoided. You should feed your hamster a low fat and low carb diet. You can remove the peas, corn and sunflower seeds from the commercial Hamster diet; add alfalfa hay and boiled eggs to his daily feeding.
Wet Tail is a disease that causes diarrhea and if not treated it is lethal. The disease is usually common for weaned babies when the space is overcrowded and in older hamsters with low immune system. Stress is a major cause of Wet Tail.
The symptoms are diarrhea (causing wetness of the tail and the hind area, hence the name), inactivity, loss of appetite and scruffy coat. The disease progresses quickly and can kill the Hamster in 24 to 48 hours. That is why is important to have the Hamster seen by a vet as soon as possible.
Hamsters can get diarrhea for several reasons, one being Wet Tail disease. However, if there is a sudden change in their diet or a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, they can get diarrhea. But unlike with Wet Tail, they will be active and eating well. In that case, all the vegetables and fruits should be stopped until the stool is back to normal. Even after diarrhea has stopped, the introduction of the vegetables and fruits should be very gradual. You can use fruits and vegetables once or twice a week as a treat.
Diarrhea can cause dehydration quite fast in Hamsters, so it is important to have fresh water available at all time in the cage. And it is best to seek medical attention so the diarrhea is resolved quickly.
The incisors teeth grow constantly in Hamsters. They are worn down by chewing. In some cases, the teeth grow so long that they will go through to the nasal cavity causing infections and abscesses. If the teeth are overgrown, the Hamster will not be able to eat and will start losing weight. The only treatment is for the teeth to be cut by a Veterinarian.
Overgrowing of the teeth can be genetic or not having enough chewing material available for your Hamster to gnaw on and wear down his teeth. To make sure your Hamster’s teeth are in good shape, check them regularly and visit the Vet if they are overgrown or in irregular shape.
Like with all heath problems, prevention is the best remedy. You will need to provide your Hamster with a lot of chewing material. There are a lot of readily available chew toys for Hamsters, made out of wood and other materials that are safe for a Hamster to chew on. Using dry pellet food will also help wear down the teeth.
Skin problems in Hamsters can be mites, allergies or fungal infection.
If you notice that your Hamster is scratching and has loss of fur, you should take him for a check with the Vet. The Vet can determine the right medicine and the dose for your hamster.
Mites are parasites that live on the skin. They are not a concern for healthy animals, but older animals with lower immune system can get a severe infestation that will cause major hair fall and dandruff.
Ringworm is a fungal infection. It is a Zoonotic disease, meaning that spreads on humans. It manifests as a circle of hair loss and the skin is red and flaky.
If your Hamster has been diagnosed with mites or fungal infection, the cage and all cage accessories need to be completely cleaned and disinfected. The whole bedding should be changed as sometimes the bedding can carry mites and other parasites. If you have more than one Hamster, they should be separated for the duration of the treatment.
Allergies can develop from anything, from food to environmental causes. The most common allergens for Hamsters are dyed paper bedding and cereals in the food. If your Hamster was diagnosed by the Vet with allergy, best is to avoid these.
Hamsters can get respiratory problems that can later turn into Pneumonia. First signs of respiratory problems are sneezing, wheezing sound while breathing, loss of appetite, inactivity and difficulty breathing. If you notice any of these signs, it is imperative to take your Hamster to the Vet as soon as possible.
Cedar and Pine bedding can cause respiratory problems as these beddings emit fumes that are toxic to Hamsters. These two should be avoided at all cost. Aspen shavings, Corn Cob bedding or paper shaving are better options for Hamsters.
If you want to be sure your Hamster is healthy, visit Al Barsha Veterinary Clinic on one of April’s Fridays for a free consult (for Hamsters only, during April 2017). Appointment is mandatory (04-3408601 or send an email)