Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How To Tell If Your Hamster Is Sick

The most common hamster ailments are tumors, wet tail, runny eyes, and broken bones. Most times when your hamster gets ill you will need to take them to the Veterinarian's office and have them looked at. Your Vet can give you antibiotics, medicated baths, schedule surgery to remove tumors and give you advice on how to care for a sick animal. It's best to call local Veterinarian's offices before you bring your hamster home and find one that specializes in small animals, or what they call (Exotics). That way if your hamster does become sick you will already have the telephone number and address of a animal hospital to take him too.

If you are handling your hamster and feel small or large lumps on your hamster, that may be a sign of a cancerous tumor. You should take your hamster to the Veterinarian right away to see if they can remove the tumor. There's no need for your hamster to suffer with a tumor that won't kill it but may make his life harder. If your hamster is old or sick and might not make it through a surgery the Vet will tell you to bring your pet back in when he looks like he's in pain, ie..stops eating, drinking water, playing or has a hard time walking. Your Vet can then put your hamster to sleep humanely.

Wet Tail
This extremely contagious and most times fatal bacteria disease is most prevalent in young hamsters but can occur to any hamster at any time. Unsanitary cages, sudden drastic changes in your hamster's diet, and stress can all bring on wet tail as well. If your hamsters gets wet tail, do not let him around or near any of your other hamsters because it can spread very fast. Clean and disinfect the hamsters cage and wash your hands after handling your hamster. You should not allow the hamster with wet tail to go anywhere other hamster might go, like on the couch where you might bring other hamster later on.

Stress lowers your hamster's immune system and may cause your hamster to get sick. To avoid this do not disturb your hamster during the day while he's sleeping. Hamster's are nocturnal and will be more than happy to come out and play after they wake up. Rudely waking your hamster up in the middle of the day, by blowing on him, shaking him, or just grabbing him will stress him out and may cause him to get sick.

Do not handle your hamster if you are sick with a cold or flu. If you hamster's cage is in the bedroom with you, you should move the cage to another room while you are sick. Hamster's can catch your cold and this may lead to wet tail. You vet can give you medicine to get your hamster healthy again.

Runny Eyes
This usually occurs when food has gotten stuck inside the pouches. The best thing to do is to take the hamster to the veterinarian and have them flush the hamster's pouches out with warm water. You could do this at home but trying to hold a hamster and stick an eye dropper inside the mouth and pouch of a squirming hamster may prove to be harder than you think.

Broken Bones
Broken bones are mainly caused by the hamster being dropped while you're holding them. To make sure this doesn't occur make sure you are holding your hamster over something soft, like a couch or chair and the height they would drop if they accidentally jump from your hands isn't more than a couple of inches. Close supervision is a requirement when young children are handling a hamster. They are fragile small creatures and will get hurt easily. If a broken bone does happen you should take your hamster immediately to the Vet's office. Sometimes the Vet can amputate the broken limb and your pet will get along just fine with three legs. If the fracture occurs someplace like in the back though, you may need to have your hamster put to sleep.

Steps you can take to keep your hamster healthy

Clean your hamster's cage at least once a week. Cleaning more may be necessary if the bedding gets wet or your hamster has diarrhea. Give your hamster small amount of fresh greens at least three times a week. Make sure you remove any uneaten fresh foods from your hamster's cage before it spoils. Always make sure the water is clean and the easily accessible. Feed your hamster a hamster food that is well balanced and meets your hamsters daily requirements. Your hamster will snack throughout the day so keeping the food bowl filled is essential.

There are treats you can give your hamster that they will love, but remember everything in moderation. Some treats are, fresh broccoli, small dog biscuits, boiled eggs, corn on the cob, apples, carrots, dry cereals, cheese, and lettuce. Giving your hamster small bits of these treats while you play with him will show him you can be trusted.

I've read several times that you should not feed your hamster meat as it may encourage them to eat their young, but if you're not breeding your hamster I see nothing wrong with little bits of meat now and again. Keep your hamster's cage in a dimly lit, draft free, quiet area of the home. Make sure your hamster's cage is big enough for your hamster to run around and have an exercise wheel as well as some other toys and a place to make a bed.

The bedding you use is very important because some things may make your hamster sick. Avoid using newspapers as the ink is harmful to your hamster. Do not use Cedar or Pine bedding as they cause skin irritations and some hamsters may get lung infections. My personal favorite is Carefresh pet bedding. I haven't seen any adverse side effects from using this bedding.


  1. It's amazing all the things that can happen with them. I'm so glad there are vets that specialize in care for pocket pets now days.

  2. Never knew they could catch our cold, have to say germ free haha

  3. they sure are fragile

  4. Anna- I really am too. Back when I first started having hamsters and mice as pets most vets wouldn't even see them.

    Pat- Yes, they can get sick easily.

    Adam- They are but are so cute.

  5. When I was growing up and had them they wouldn't either. We have a couple who specialize just in small animals near me. It's fantastic.

  6. I didn't realize hamster illness symptoms were so different from dogs'! I know with a dog, you're supposed to look for abnormal behavior and a dry nose. Although my dog's nose is often dry when she's healthy!

  7. I may get a hamster again someday - thought my cat would look at it as dinner!


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