Dwarf Hamster Health: How to Keep Your Pet Hamsters at Their Best
A healthy dwarf hamster will have bright alert eyes and demeanour. Its ears will be pricked, its fur glossy with no lumps or wounds and its anus will be clear. The animal will be active when awake and respond to your voice. Most dwarf hamsters are fine, living long and healthy lives.
It is best to examine your pet every day. Get used to knowing how your pet is when it is healthy and you will know when something is wrong. Sick hamsters hunch over, ignoring any attempts to encourage them out; they may hide in their bedding or refuse to be picked up.
Hamsters can catch human colds, so always wash your hands after using a tissue and before picking up your hamster. If your hamster should start sneezing, then keep him warm and make sure there are no draughts around the cage.
Too much green food or fresh vegetables can cause diarrhoea, so be careful to feed only small amounts at a time. Severe bouts of diarrhoea should be taken to the Vet as it is easy for these small animals to become dehydrated.
Diabetes in Hamsters
Campbell’s Russian dwarf hamsters can be prone to diabetes. This is a hereditary condition which usually shows itself early in a hamster’s life. The young hamster suddenly starts drinking a lot of water and loses weight, despite apparently eating normally.
Diabetic dwarf hamsters should not be offered fruit and Pedialyte can be offered in the water to help hydrate your hamster. Your Vet may have more tips on diet. Their lives will most likely be shortened.
Glaucoma in Hamsters
Dwarf hamsters can be prone to glaucoma. The hamster’s eye becomes filled with fluid and it looks abnormally large. The hamster may lose the eye. Your Vet can prescribe eye drops to help keep the eye moist. If your hamster is in pain, then you should definitely visit the Vet. Most hamsters can adjust to living without an eye. The condition is thought to be caused by an injury or hereditary condition. Do not breed from animals with known hereditary conditions.
Wounds and Abscesses
Bite wounds are very common on dwarf hamsters, and if one animal is getting regularly bitten, then it is best to split the pair. Bites can become septic, with abscesses forming underneath. It is best to see the Vet to drain the abscess and get some antibiotics for your pet.
Abscesses can also form in the cheek pouch, usually due to sharp bits of food damaging the pouch lining. You will notice that your hamster seems to have one pouch permanently filled. Your hamster will need to see the Vet.
Tumours in Hamsters
Older dwarf hamsters can develop cysts or cancer tumours. This has possibly been linked to inbreeding the animals to close family members. The tumours are unsightly, but not all Vets are willing to operate on such a small animal. It can depend on the health of the animal involved. As long as the tumour does not become infected and it does not affect your hamster’s ability to eat and drink, then it may be best to leave alone. When it starts to affect your pet’s standard of living, then see your Vet.
Keeping your pet clean and giving it a high standard of care is the best way to keep your dwarf hamster healthy. Check it regularly and you will pick up any problems that may occur and be able to deal with them promptly.