Just as is the case with most pets, while hamsters are generally healthy, they can still develop health problems occasionally. It is crucial that you are aware of them so that you can not only know how to react but also when it is time to call the vet.
Some of the most common health problems hamsters can have affect their skin, respiratory tract, and the digestive tract, but the list is far more encompassing. Below you will find a comprehensive list of some of the most common health issues that hamsters can experience.
The causes of digestive problems are vast, and they can range from anything like a bacterial infection to stress or dietary issues. Digestive problems result in conditions such as diarrhea and wet tail.
Wet tail is a highly contagious and common disease in young hamsters that have just been weaned. One type of hamster that is particularly susceptible to it is the long-haired teddy bear hamster.
The signs of wet tail are wetness in the tail area caused by diarrhea, poor appetite, inactivity, and an unkempt coat. If your hamster shows these signs, you should go to the vet as soon as possible since the disease can be fatal.
If your hamster only experiences diarrhea, the chances are that the cause of it is much more straightforward and easier to fix. Diarrhea can occur from changes in diet or eating foods that are high in water such as vegetables and fruits.
Hamsters that have diarrhea can get dehydrated quickly, so even if an excess of water may be a cause of it, you should still make sure they drink plenty of it. The next step is to stop feeding fresh foods until the droppings are back to a normal consistency.
A hamster that suffers from diarrhea should be taken to the veterinarian if the condition does not resolve itself quickly. As long as you follow a strict diet and only feed your furry companion healthy hamster food in the right quantities, diarrhea should not be a problem.
Some of the most common skin diseases in hamsters are ringworm and mite infestations. Numerous types of mites can affect your furry pet, and some can cause scratching and hair loss over the back area and their rump. Other mites can cause an itchy rash on the face, feet, ears, and tail.
It is also worth noting that some varieties of bedding such as cedar can cause allergies or irritate skin, and even if you are not using cedar shavings, it is still possible for the bedding to be the source of the problem. With that said, the veterinarian is the only person that can correctly diagnose these problems through skin scrapings and fungal cultures.
Similarly, if the cage you have bought for your pet has bars, the chances are that your hamster enjoys spending quite some time gnawing at them. This behavior can lead to hair loss and bleeding if done a lot. Bar rub might be a sign that your hamster needs more toys to chew on, requires a larger enclosure, or that it is bored and needs to be stimulated.
Another skin disease that hamsters can develop from small cuts or other injuries to the skin is abscesses formation. These are pockets of infection beneath the skin that fill up with pus. If your pet has a firm and painful lump on its body or inside the mouth in the cheek pouch area, chances are it is an abscess, and you will need to go to a vet to have it drained and flushed.
One aspect that all hamster owners should aware of is the fact that their little pal can catch a common cold just as we can, and humans can easily pass the virus on to the pet. If you are not feeling well, or one of the members of your family isn’t well, it is a good idea to keep you or them away from your hamster for a small period until the illness has passed.
Similarly, if you have more than just one hamster and one of your pets is ill, it is a good idea to keep it away in a separate cage or box until it is feeling a little better. The symptoms of the cold in hamsters are very similar to those found in humans: sneezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, and a wet nose.
Since these symptoms coincide with those of an infection or allergy, it is advisable to take the pet to the vet for a precise diagnosis if the symptoms don’t disappear.
Another common health problem that hamsters have in common with humans is diabetes. Dwarf hamsters, in particular, are very prone to the disease. The typical signs of diabetes are excessive urination and thirst, but since these same signs can indicate kidney disease or bladder infection, it is better to let your veterinarian make the diagnosis.
Diabetes is also often linked to obesity, so it is a good idea not to let your pet get too big. One good way to keep your pet’s weight under control is to focus its diet on healthy foods and restrict access to high-fat foods such as nuts, peanuts, sunflowers seeds, and vegetables and fruits that are high in sugar.
Teeth and aging problems
Since in the wild hamsters are accustomed to chewing constantly, if your pet does not have access to chewing material, it can develop dental problems. Your hamster’s teeth grow throughout the animal’s life, and they must be worn out by chewing. Otherwise, they grow too long and cause cuts and abscesses.
As hamsters age, they can develop health problems such as blood clots in the heart, tumors, stomach ulcers, and dental disease. Due to their short lifespan, these problems can appear once the pet is more than one year old. Most of them cannot be cured, but they can be managed with supportive treatment.