Dehydration in a hamster
Dehydration in a hamster is a life threatening condition that can be very serious. Dehydration is defined as excessive loss of water or fluid from the body.
A common cause of dehydration is the unforgivable neglect of water depravation by forgetting to fill his water bottle.
Dehydration is caused by not drinking enough fluid or by losing bodily fluids and not replacing them. Severe loss of body fluids can happen when a hamster has diarrhea. Or if a hamster is feeling unwell because of other health issues it may refuse to eat and drink. Essential body salts such as sodium and potassium will be lost and the body will be unable to keep the essential elements in balance. Dehydration can result from illness such as Diabetes and Wet Tail, diarrhea is a symptom of wet tail and can cause the body to lose fluids and essential elements from the body. They can become dehydrated in hot conditions. A hamster that is suffering from a stressful condition other than wet tail may also refuse to eat and drink resulting in dehydration. Watch for some of the obvious signs, sunken or dry eyes, a reduction in urination and concentrated dark urine with a strong odour, confusion, irritability, a ruffled and unkempt coat by being unwilling to groom. A rapid and sudden weight loss or skin that loses its elasticity will stay compressed when pinched. Severe dehydration may cause rapid weak pulse, fast deep breathing.
Left untreated dehydration can be fatal. Hamsters that die from a diarrhea related illness usually do so because the body has become severely dehydrated, that is because they have lost more fluid than they have taken in. As body fluids are lost the essential salts, minerals, and other nutrients are also lost, these are known as "Electrolytes" and they play a vital role in maintaining homeostasis within the body, which help to regulate myocardial and neurological function as well as fluid balance, oxygen delivery, acid base balance and much more. When these "Electrolytes" become depleted by fluid loss the body is unable to function properly.
Extra fluids should be given until the diarrhea has subsided.
Using water alone is not the best way to deal with dehydration as using water alone can complicate the situation even more, as water will further dilute the minerals salts and sugars in the body. An oral rehydration therapy (ORT) should be started immediately the diarrhea is seen and should be treated before the problem becomes serious. ORT is widely considered to be the best method for combating dehydration caused by diarrhea. ORT consists of a solution of salts and sugars that is administered orally; it is a simple cheap and an effective treatment for dehydration associated with diarrhea and other health issues that can cause dehydration. These can be obtained from any well stocked drug store or chemist. Pedialyte or Lectade are electrolyte rehydration solutions and is the same solution that is used for children with diarrhea. These products contain all the elements needed mixed in the correct quantities
A Dehydrated hamster