Hamster Wet Tail

A Hamster with Wet tail, a hamster that has diarrhea is often referred to as having wet tail. However, the term "Wet-Tail" does not refer to a specific diagnosis of a particular disease; this is just a descriptive term for the clinical signs of wet tail. The clinical signs of wet-tail are wetness and matting of the fur around the tail and perineum of the hamster’s rear end. Any feces may be soft, and or wet. The causes of diarrhea, the Wet tail, are numerous and sometimes the cause can prove to be very elusive. Diarrhea regardless of the cause can lead to serious Dehydration that will require immediate attention. Dehydration can lead to serious changes in the body's chemistry and it is this that becomes more life threatening than the diarrhea itself.

In most cases of a hamster with diarrhea there is normally no decrease in activity, eating or drinking and replacing the lost body fluids, salts and minerals, is the only treatment that is needed this is called Re-hydration
There are many instances when a hamster may get an upset tummy that can cause loose stools or diarrhea. Diarrhea describes bowel movements (stools) that may be loose and or watery. Though not very common it is usually not serious and can last a day or two. Just like humans they can eat foods or too much of a particular food that can upset their digestive system by drawing water from the body into the bowel causing stools to become lose or watery, this type of diarrhea is referred to as Osmotic diarrhea. Osmotic diarrhea occurs when too much water is drawn into the bowels. In healthy individuals too much vitamin C or undigested lactose (milk sugars) can produce osmotic diarrhea. Also excess fructose (fruit sugars) intake can cause diarrhea. Osmotic diarrhea stops when the offending agents, are taken away.

In this Video the hamster has diarrhea showing the clinical sign of wet tail, the matting of the fur around the tail and perineum of the hamster. Although the cause of the diarrhea in this hamster was never established. However, as he had a respiratory problem that was leaving him lethargic and feeling under the weather, it may have been possibly a combination of both. It is recommended to clean the hamsters rear end with a good medicated disinfect such as (Dettol) Dettol Disinfectant Liquid kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, including E.coli, and Salmonella. It provides a protection against harmful bacteria with a unique non-bleach formula. Or using Virkon with similar effect is what I use. Cleaning that area will help to prevent the hamster from re infecting himself with the bacteria from grooming himself in that area, thereby breaking the cycle of ingestion and re infection. He was put on a course of Baytril (oral) for the respiratory problem 3 days later his breathing improved and the diarrhea cleared up leaving his rear end clean and soft again, he kept on the antibiotic for a further 4 days.

With diarrhea, regardless of the cause, it is important to make sure the hamster gets plenty to drink. The cage should be cleaned and disinfected daily, particularly the sleeping area, replace all bedding with fresh clean wood shavings on a daily basis and replace the nesting material each day with fresh new clean material.

Inflammatory diarrhea is much more serious and occurs when there is damage to the mucosal lining which leads to a passive loss of protein-rich fluids and the decreased ability in which to absorb these lost fluids. This type of diarrhea is caused by bacterial infections, viral infections, or genetic disorders.

Proliferative Ileitis: Is a disease seen mostly in the Syrian hamster, and a fatal disease for which there is no known cure. This condition induces inflammatory diarrhea, the most serious case of wet tail. Image

Proliferative Ileitis: "Wet tail", is a genetic disorder, that leads to an inflammation of the intestines causing serious bouts of diarrhea which will result in the death of the animal. This disease is associated mainly with the Syrian hamster, and is currently becoming the most commonly encountered disease seen in this species to-day and sadly a disease that has a very high mortality rate. In this case a hamster showing signs of this disease will have dull sunken eyes and unkempt fur and because of abdominal pain and discomfort the hamster may have a hunched appearance and will be reluctant to move around and refuse to eat or drink. In the most serious of cases blood may be seen in the loose stools and around the anus and the rectum may protrude out of the anus (Rectal Prolapse) caused by the constant straining. Since it is a genetic disorder antibiotics prove ineffective against it, as genetic disorders are almost impossible to treat with conventional or antibiotic treatment. Once a hamster has Proliferative Ileitis (also referred to as Wet Tail) the animal very rarely survives even with the very best of veterinary treatment. Any that do survive the initial attack of the disease usually go on to lead a relatively short and in some cases a very painful existence. Proliferative Ileitis is a Primary immune deficiency which is caused by errors in the genes of the cells that make up the immune system. If part of the immune system is missing, faulty or does not function as it should then infections and recurring infections become very likely, as the immune system's ability to fight infections and infectious diseases become compromised and those that do survive are susceptible to other infections such as UTI's, Tumors, Inner ear infections, Diabetes, and organ failure early in life.

Is there a home remedy or cure for wet tail ?

Sadly Not! There is no remedy or cure available for wet tail caused by Proliferative Ileitis. As with any genetic disorder, just like cancer or diabetes, it is not possible to treat or cure this disease with conventional or antibiotic treatment.
Do not use over the counter remedies in order to treat wet-tail or with the intention of trying to prevent the onset of the disease, and particularly on a hamster that is not showing any sign of the disease. These products are usually made up of very weak solutions of antibiotics. Often these products will complicate the situation further by destroying the beneficial flora in the digestive tract severely impairing digestion and assimilation of nutrients at a time when most needed.

Can I cure wettail in my hamster?

Unfortunately not, Proliferative Ileitis is caused by errors in the DNA inherited from both the parents. Once a hamster has inherited theses errors, antibiotics, veterinary care and treatment prove ineffective, and the animal will usually succumb to the disease.

 Is wettail contagious?

Contrary to popular belief, it is "NOT" contagious. Many myths and misconceptions surround this disease because it is not fully understood by many. Confusion arises through lack of information and understanding of the disease. It has been scientifically proven that the disease cannot be passed from an infected individual animal to a normal healthy hamster, nor can it be reproduced in genetically healthy hamsters.

My last hamster died from wettail. Can my new hamster catch wettail from the cage?

No: It is physically impossible for your new hamster to catch wet tail from the previous occupant of the cage, regardless of whether the cage has been sterilized or not. If you had a hamster that died from diabetes, or some other genetic disorder would you expect the next occupant of the cage to be able to catch that disease? No, of course you wouldn't. The same applies in the case of Proliferative Ileitis. Because it is a genetically inherited disorder, just like other genetically inherited diseases it cannot be passed from individual to individual. Other than basic cage hygiene which you would normally undertake anyway before using a cage again, no other action need be taken. Basically they are either born with it, or they are not, it "cannot" be passed from hamster to hamster, or via utensils or cages.

Hamster with diarrhea

There are occasions where a hamster may get loose stools; this can sometimes be misinterpreted as "Wet tail" by many hamster owners. Some simple explanations can include but not limited to, Food allergies, Lactose intolerance, less often various sugar free foods, over use of antibiotics, Fructose (this is the simple sugars found in fruit) This can also be found in some vegetables along with fibre. Fibre helps to retain water in the intestines this can cause stools to be much softer than normal. Stress can also cause diarrhea. It is a medically know fact that stress in itself can upset the digestive system leading to loose stools or constipation. In the event of stress the digestive system is usually the first line of attack. It is thought by many, in the mistaken belief that stress can increase the hamster’s chance of developing wet tail. However, stress cannot, does not, and will not cause the hamster to develop the deadly disease Proliferative Ileitis. But with young hamsters that are of weaning age stress can increase the susceptibility of developing loose bowels (diarrhea). The signs of stress in a newly acquired hamster can show in different ways. It is important for the pet owner to be able to recognize the causes of stress and how to minimize it. The risks can be dramatically reduced by limiting or avoiding any exposure to stress. There are many instances in the hamster’s environment that can lead to a hamster stressing. See behavior

It is very unlikely the average pet hamster owner will ever come across a case of a hamster with diarrhea if handling, diet, husbandry and hygiene are adhered to. Should you have the unfortunate experience of acquiring a hamster with wet tail seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.
There are also times where a newly acquired young hamster may develop diarrhea. The cause in this case may be a dietary issue. A hamster with soft stools is not necessarily showing signs of an intestinal bacterial infection. A lot of owners can confuse this with “Wet Tail” although the clinical signs are very similar. Diarrhea, loose or soft stools in a hamster may be caused by feeding an incorrect diet. All fruit contains Fructose; fructose is a naturally occurring sugar that is found in all fruit and also in some vegetables, feeding too much of these may cause loose stools. Too many vegetables particularly green leafy vegetables are another cause.

Vegetables are high in fibre but some good dietary fibre is still needed in their diet. Fibre retains water in the intestines and too much of this can lead to loose stools depending on how much is eaten. In some cases hamster owners not familiar with wet tail may misdiagnose loose stools or a simple case of mild diarrhea for wet tail. Milk is also another cause as animals lose the ability to metabolize lactose after weaning. If the diarrhea is essentially a direct cause of a dietary issue the hamster will normally show no sign of discomfort and there is usually no decrease in normal activity. An oral re hydration therapy should be given and omitting all wet foods should solve the problem.

Wet tail is almost exclusively a disease of the Syrian hamster, Dwarf hamsters do not usually suffer from it but they may and can develop diarrhea, meaning the symptoms of the “Wet tai” is signaling a different problem, in this case it is usually a dietary issue. You need to think about what you’re feeding him and adjust the diet accordingly, in addition to starting a re hydration therapy. In many cases replacing lost body fluid and salts (Re hydration) is the only treatment that is needed. This can be helped by keeping them on dry food only for a short time until the symptoms subside.

You can assist in aiding recovery of diarrhea by providing food that promotes good intestinal bacteria. Good health depends on having a balanced intestinal flora. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria; these can be found in various foods like yogurt: yogurt is good for this as it has good medicinal uses in particular for a variety of gastrointestinal conditions. Live yogurt is full of good pro biotic bacteria like lactobacilli that are naturally found in fermented foods like yogurt.


Hamster wet tail


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