Most Common Diseases in Hamsters
If you are thinking about adopting this rodent, it is very important to know the most common diseases in hamsters so that you can prevent any problems that may affect your pet at the time. Since they are nocturnal creatures, many of the earliest symptoms of their most common diseases may go unnoticed, so we recommend that you take your pet on a weekly physical examination with which to detect possible conditions as soon as possible. In addition to proper feeding and hygiene of the hamster cage, you should provide your pet with the care you need and a prevention against the most common diseases that we will show you in the YourCatCareguide.
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Abscesses and infections
Abscesses are subcutaneous , usually red, bulging , painful, and may form in any part of the body due to a reaction of the hamster’s immune system. They are distinguished from the tumors because in the abscesses usually remains remains of the wounds that formed it.
These lumps occur, usually due to bacterial or parasitic infections, or by poorly healed cuts and bites . The treatment depends on the severity of the infection or abscess, but normally it is sufficient to open it, clean the infected area well and heal the wound with some ointment. If this is not enough, the veterinarian may recommend antibiotics, if necessary, to eliminate the infections.
Mites and fungi
Another of the most common diseases in hamsters are mites and fungi. These parasites are usually already in our pets but may be aggravated in situations of stress, immune system weakness, bacterial or cutaneous infections, poor diet or poor hygiene of the cage. They can also occur by contagion with other animals infected by parasites.
Symptoms that produce mites or fungi in hamsters cause excessive itching, irritated skin or areas with no skin, formation of eczema or crusts, and more movement and restlessness in the cage than normal.
The treatment will depend on the type of mites or fungi that our pet has contracted, but in general it is enough to disinfect the animal (and its cage) with specific products (always provided by a veterinarian), to maintain a correct feeding and hygiene of its cage and in case the infestation is due to scabies on the skin , it will be necessary to take the hamster to the veterinarian urgently, although this disease can be distinguished from the milder conditions because it also produces blisters on the extremities, ears and muzzle.
Colds, bronchitis and pneumonia
Colds are one of the most frequent diseases in hamsters that can lead to bronchitis and / or pneumonia if not well cured. This condition usually occurs when the animal is affected by sudden changes in temperature or by being exposed to frequent air currents.
Symptoms range from breathing difficulties, loss of appetite, sneezing, watery eyes, shivering or runny nose. But if the cold does not heal well and these symptoms continue along with coughing, constant nasal flow, reddening of the snout and whistling while breathing, it is very possible that the hamster has bronchitis or even pneumonia.
Treatment in these cases is very similar to that in humans. So it should provide you with a warm, dry place, plenty of rest, nutritious food and you should take it to the veterinarian as you may need antibiotics and other medications.
Wet tail or proliferative ileitis is one of the most famous and contagious diseases in hamsters. It is a condition very similar to diarrhea and is often confused but not the same.
Wet tail disease usually affects younger hamsters (3-10 weeks of age), especially those that have recently been weaned, due to stress or overcrowding, or poor feeding or hygiene of the cage. The cause is bacteria that are inherent in the intestines of these animals called coli-bacteria , but can be activated by any of these earlier causes. The incubation period is 7 days and the most evident symptoms are abundant and watery diarrhea, the tail and anal region very dirty and wet looking, loss of appetite and consequent dehydration, and bowing of the animal.
The treatment for this condition is very similar to that of gastroenteritis or diarrhea. You should rehydrate and nourish the animal well, isolate it from its other companions not to spread the disease, take it to the veterinarian to prescribe antibiotics and completely disinfect the cage and all its components to avoid affecting other animals.
Diarrhea or constipation
Diarrhea and constipation are two common diseases in hamsters that have totally opposite symptoms and so can differentiate well.
In the case of diarrhea, the animal has pasty or liquid excrement , lack of appetite and lack of activity, and the anal region is very dirty (so it is often confused with wet tail disease). Diarrhea can be caused by bacterial infections, overfeeding with many fresh products, lack of hygiene in the cage and its components, sudden changes in temperature, etc. In this case the treatment should consist of moisturizing the hamster with plenty of water, suppressing fresh foods from your diet ( fruits and vegetables that lax, give you astringent foods like boiled rice, cleanse the anal region to avoid infections and consult the veterinarian for the prescription of antibiotics if necessary).
In contrast, in the case of constipation, there is a shortage or decrease of excrements, which will be small and hard, the hamster will have anus swollen and slightly moist, and may give demonstrations of pain, lack of appetite and swelling in the abdomen. It is usually caused by poor or unbalanced nutrition and the treatment consists in administering a lot of water and fruits and vegetables to the animal .
Wounds on blocked cheeks or cheeks
Hamsters have pouches on their cheeks to store food, and sometimes these can clog and become affected with wounds and / or abscesses. Unlike humans, the pouches on the cheeks of these animals are dry and not moist, so sometimes wounds or abscesses can occur if they eat food that is in poor condition or sticky, so that they can not empty their cheeks. If your pet suffers from this condition, you may notice the inflammation of your cheeks .
In this case, you can treat the hamster by taking it to the veterinarian to clean and empty the bags carefully, extracting all the food that was inside and doing the respective treatment.
Bites, cuts or injuries
Hamsters are often in contact with others of their species and in some of their fights or even playing , they may bite or injure their bodies.
Affected hamsters usually clean the milder wounds themselves and they heal within a few days. But if we see that there is a serious wound or hemorrhage, we have to treat it by healing it as well as possible, by cutting the hair from the affected area, cleaning the wound and applying an antibiotic ointment, not to infect. In case of infection, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian.
Irritation or infection in the eyes
Irritations or infections in the eyes of hamsters are also other common diseases in these animals. Whether it’s a fight with another hamster, something like dust, dirt, hay, wood trim, or a bacterial infection, our pets’ eyes can get injured in different ways.
The symptoms that occur are excessive tearing, protruding and / or infected eyes and excessive puffiness. In this case, if the eye injury is mild you can wipe the affected eye with a cloth moistened in warm water until the animal opens the eye, and once opened, apply saline-like drops or eye drops . In case the eye injury is severe, we should consult a veterinarian to prescribe relevant medicines such as antibiotic ointments, for example.
Tumors or cancer
Tumors are internal or external protrusions that hamsters develop, just like the other species, due to an increase in the cells that make them, which can be benign or malignant. If the tumor is malignant and has the capacity for invasion and metastasis in different places of the original tumor, it is called cancer.
These protuberances can be distinguished from other conditions such as fat lumps or cysts, because when touched, they do not move and usually appear by multiple factors but the most common is by the aging of the animal. The most notable symptoms are both external and internal protuberances (although the latter are harder to detect and usually do not detect in time), a general ill appearance with poor appetite, poor activity and weight loss and hair loss.
External tumors can be removed through surgery performed by a qualified veterinarian, although there is no guarantee that they will not return. And the internal tumors are also operable , but much more difficult to detect and remove, by the size of the hamster mainly. The treatment will depend on the age and condition of the protuberances of the animal.
This article is purely informative, in YourCatCareguide.com.br we do not have the capacity to prescribe veterinary treatments nor to make any type of diagnosis. We suggest you bring your pet to the veterinarian in case of any type of condition or malaise.
If you want to read more articles the following may have to say about Hamsters , we recommend you to enter our Prevention section .