How to recognize and prevent hamster diseases veterinary medicine portal

With the right care, hamsters are not very susceptible to disease. These small rodents have a
good immune system and fall ill relatively rarely, so there are no typical hamster diseases. Nevertheless, always keep the appearance. Keep an eye on your pet's behavior! Common signs of illness include apathetic or aggressive behavior, or even a shaggy coat and emaciation.

Find out more about the most common hamster diseases and learn how to prevent them.

The most common hamster diseases

Diarrhea in hamsters

Healthy hamsters are very clean animals. If your hamster's anal region is soiled or wet from feces, it usually indicates a diarrheal condition. The hamster's droppings are then soft and watery rather than solid and dry as usual. Possible reasons for diarrhea include improper food, a bacterial infection or the so-called wet tail disease.

As soon as you notice the diarrhea, stop giving your hamster fresh food and see your veterinarian. Gently clean the hamster's anal region with a damp cotton pad. Diarrhea in the hamster is usually accompanied by Medication treated to rebuild the intestinal flora.

Hair lice and fungal infestation

An infestation by hair lice, mites or fungi in hamsters manifests itself by severe Itching, scratching and hair loss. The skin is reddened and the fur dull and flaky. Possible causes of parasite infestation are weakened defenses or husbandry errors (e.g.B. through lack of hygiene).

For the treatment of hair lice there are also special solutions for hamsters (so-called Spot-Ons) to apply to the skin – but in much lower amounts and concentrations than in dogs and cats.

Eye diseases in hamsters

Diseases of the eyes are often caused by Bacteria causes. What is not known to many, however, is that if the hamster has poor oral hygiene with tooth decay and inflammation of the root of the teeth, it is possible that the disease-causing bacteria are carried over. This is how they get to the eyes. Lead to infections.

Even the smallest dust and dirt particles from the bedding can cause eye inflammation in hamsters.

Common cold

Similar to humans, a cold in a hamster manifests itself through Sneezing, breathing sounds or nasal discharge. If the hamster's cage is incorrectly placed, the cold will result from drafts or severe temperature changes.

The veterinary treatment is usually carried out with Antibiotics. At home, irradiation with a heat lamp may possibly help to speed up the healing process. However, place the lamp in such a way that the hamster can also escape the heat and check the cage regularly to prevent the hamster from overheating.

Clogged cheek pouches

If your hamster stops eating and cannot empty the cheek pouches properly, the pouches may be clogged. This happens for example by sticky food or too large pieces of food. clogged cheek pouches can cause severe inflammation and abscesses that are difficult to heal.

Observe your hamster for a short while. Sometimes the hamster has not yet had a chance to empty the cheek pouches. However, if they remain stuffed for a long period of time, you should also visit your veterinarian to have the food debris carefully removed with tweezers.

Misalignment of teeth in hamsters

As with guinea pigs and rabbits, malocclusion is also relatively common in hamsters. The Teeth of the hamster grow back the whole life long and must be regularly rubbed off. If this does not happen due to misalignment of the teeth or lack of gnawing, it can lead to injuries in the mouth area.

Therefore, always provide your hamster with enough material to nibble on, for example clean twigs or wood, food available. In case of need you can have the teeth shortened by a veterinarian.

With the hamster in the veterinarian's office

In small animals like hamsters, illnesses often run their course quickly. Therefore, do not hesitate to visit a veterinary practice in case of abnormalities. Do not try to treat the animal yourself, this often only wastes valuable time and you aggravate the symptoms. Instead, inform yourself ahead of time about a specialized practice near you, who knows how to treat rodents.

Use a suitable transport box for the way to the practice, which you have procured in the best case already with the purchase of the hamster. As you drive, think about whether you've noticed anything lately with the The hamster's posture changes have, for example, in the food, bedding or cage equipment – this is valuable information for the vet or. the vet.

How to prevent hamster diseases

The nuts and bolts of hamster keeping are a species-appropriate home and varied food. A balanced diet from grain food and fresh food, such as apples, lettuce or carrots, keeps the hamster fit and strengthens its immune system.

To avoid infection by bacteria, clean the cage carefully at regular intervals. To a good hygiene of the hamster cage belongs:

– Remove Leftover fresh food daily out of the cage. – Switch to the Toilet corners, which the hamster has set up, every three days the bedding from. – Wash once a week the Food bowl and drinking bottle under hot water (without detergent). – Clean at least once a month the entire cage And change the entire bedding.

It is best to check the small rodent daily for possible signs of illness: How do the fur, the eyes and the anus region look like? Does the hamster eat regularly. It behaves normally? You can also check its weight regularly with a small kitchen scale. Pay particular attention to any weight loss: a healthy golden hamster weighs between 85 and 130 grams.

Hamsters are relatively skittish, therefore, put the small rodent as little stress as possible from. Do not tear the nocturnal animals from their sleep and follow the rhythm of the hamster when taking care of them and also when cleaning the cage.

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Further information

Author: Klaudia Fernowka, B.A.
Veterinary Quality Arance: Dr. med. vet. Michael Koch

Date of last update:
January 2022

Sources:

Fom, T.: Surgery of small animals. Urban& Fischer, Munich 2020 Maddison, J. et al: From symptom to diagnosis in small animal practice. Thieme 2016 Fritzsche, P.: Hamster. Grafe und Unzer Verlag GmbH, Munich 2015 Fehr, M.

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