Diseases than can affect hamsters
Diseases effecting hamsters
In general hamsters are robust little creatures and require very little veterinary care. But hamsters’ of all ages can be affected by disease. The information here is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied upon for any diagnosis or for treatment purposes of your hamster. If you suspect that you’re hamster may have any of these symptoms listed below then consult your veterinary surgeon. Hamsters are generally resistant to disease and should have few health problems throughout its life.
Below you will find a brief description of many of the diseases of hamsters, and some of the common ailments that can affect hamsters. A list of other more common ailments and diseases that may affect hamsters' is to be found on the Hamster Health Page.
Every pet owner who looks after and observes his Syrian hamster frequently will not fail to notice any change in the animal's behavior or appearance. When any unusual behavior or symptoms of disease or illness become apparent seek veterinary advice immediately. The sooner a diagnosis is made and a specific treatment or therapy is induced, the quicker a recovery of the animal can be expected. Most diseases are without risk for human beings if strict hygiene conditions are adhered to, and care should always be exercised when handling ill or sick animals. Strict hygiene should be maintained at all times whether the animal is sick or not. All animals represent significant disease prevalence directly or indirectly Zoonotic diseases can be caused by all types of pathogens, viruses, bacteria, and parasites that pass to humans from animals and can cause various symptoms such as diarrhea, muscle aches and fevers.
Click the preceding link on each subject for more detailed information of disease and symptoms.
Ring worm Is a fungal infection and care should be exercised in the case of all fungal and bacterial infections, as some of these can be transmitted to humans.
Diabetes What is diabetes? Diabetes can affect hamsters as well as humans. Although diabetes is very rarely seen the Syrian. The Campbell's Dwarf hamster is predisposed to this disease. Diabetes is a condition where a gland in the body called "The Pancreas" fails to produce enough insulin to meet the body's needs. This gland, the pancreas, produces digestive enzymes and manufactures insulin. When starchy food is digested it breaks down into glucose. The glucose then builds up in the blood stream. It is the insulin that controls the level of glucose in the blood by helping it to go from the bloodstream into the body's cells. Once in the cells glucose can be used for energy or stored for future needs. Without insulin glucose can’t get from the bloodstream into the body's cells. Because the cells are deprived of glucose the body then thinks it is being starved. The animal may then eat large quantities of food to try and feed those starving cells.
Pyometra What is Pyometra? Pyometra is an infection of the uterus that can lead to abdominal distension. This can be a life threatening disease characterized by an accumulation or discharge of pus from the uterus. There are two types of pyometra seen in the hamster; there is the open pyometra, and the closed pyometra. Pyometra is a condition of the womb in which the womb becomes infected, and is caused by bacteria or hormonal and structural changes in the uterus lining. This can affect the female hamster even if she has not been used to breed from. Pyometra is a disease seen mostly in the older female but can also effect younger hamsters. The bacteria involved in pyometra are thought to enter the uterus through the cervix when it is open. Pyometra often occurs around the time of normal oestrus.
Skin diseases There are many types of skin disease and infections that can affect a hamster. The most likely cause of a skin problem in a hamster is usually a parasitic infestation from hamster mites. Food allergies or food sensitivities may also cause skin complications and eventual loss of fur. Hamsters that are advancing into old age may show signs of dry scaly skin, although not a disease or an infection, this may be accompanied by fur loss and may become itchy, and constant scratching by the hamster can lead to diseases and infections such as dermatitis
Diarrhea is a condition in which a hamster has watery loose bowel movements. Not all cases of diarrhea are caused by disease. Diarrhea can have specific disease or non disease conditions. But any form of diarrhea, regardless of the cause can lead to serious dehydration that requires immediate attention.
This, in itself, can become life threatening if left untreated. Diarrhea in a hamster can also be caused by a number of ailments that can prove to be very elusive.
Soft stools or diarrhea in an otherwise healthy hamster could be an indication of a dietary problem and the hamster is being fed on to much sugar or green vegetables. Any sign of diarrhea unaccompanied by disease does not usually cause the hamster any discomfort or pain. In this case there is no loss of appetite or decrease in activity.
'Proliferative Ileitis' is a genetic disorder. A serious disease of the digestive system and the most lethal form of diarrhea to a hamster, also referred to as wet tail, a term used to describe a hamster that has the most serious form of diarrhea. Proliferative Ileitis or hamster wet tail disease is the most common disease seen in the Syrian hamster to-day. It can cause serious bouts of diarrhea and may result in the death of the animal within days. Sadly this is a disease that has a very high mortality rate, and once a hamster develops this disease the animal very rarely survives.
Peritonitis can cause a swelling, or distension of the abdomen. Peritonitis is a build up of bodily fluids in the peritoneum: Primary peritonitis is an infection in the blood that occurs most commonly in individuals with liver disease, Kidney damage, or Pelvic inflammatory disease. The prognosis for peritonitis depends primarily on the type of the condition. For example, the outlook for those with secondary peritonitis tends to be poor. For individuals with primary peritonitis related to liver disease also tends to be poor.
Vestibular disease is a disease of the vestibular system and can take many different forms, but nearly always induces instability. Common signs of vestibular syndrome in a hamster include falling over (loss of balance) stumbling, (an unsteady gait) a head tilt, rotation of the head with one ear held lower than the other. Vestibular disease is caused by an inner ear infection, trauma, or tumors of the ear canal.
Fur loss Fur or hair loss in a hamster can occur for a number of reasons. It can be related to both disease and non-disease conditions. It is a fairly common problem in hamsters' particularly in a hamster over a year + old. Continual rubbing on feeders or sides of the cage may be one issue. But the most common reason is age related. Age related fur loss is generally first seen starting around the tummy area then onto the hind legs and hips, then on to the neck and chest.
Hind leg paralysis There are a number of ailments and disease that can cause hind leg paralysis in a hamster, through spinal trauma, lack of exercise, myopathies, and muscle degeneration or a nutritional cause, a deficiency in vitamins D and E.
other causes are viral or bacterial infections or hereditary defects.
Old age diseases Many diseases can effect hamsters over the age of one year. Liver and kidney disease are not uncommon in ageing hamsters. Chronic kidney (renal) failure is common. Most geriatric diseases and ailments are incurable. These diseases will eventually result in the death of the hamster. Older hamsters can also suffer heart problems as they age.
Diseases affecting hamsters