Keeping a close eye on your hamster’s health is an important responsibility you have as a hamster owner. Hamsters live to be one and a half to three years old. When your hamster is old, there is sometimes nothing you can do to save it. Hamsters are also prone to a number of other serious conditions that can be cured. You should always take your hamster to the vet if you suspect your hamster is ill. The vet will be able to tell you about your hamster’s health.
Monitor your hamster's behavior
It is important to spend time with your hamster every day so that you know its normal behavior. A change in your hamster’s behavior can be a sign that something is wrong with your hamster’s health. If you don’t spend time with your hamster on a regular basis, you may not notice if your hamster is suddenly behaving very differently. Build a routine so that you spend time with your hamster at the same time every day. This will help you get used to your hamster’s behavior during the same part of the day.
Monitor your hamster's eating habits
A healthy hamster will eat at regular intervals during its day. Hamsters sleep during the day, but will wake up regularly to eat or drink in between. If your hamster is eating less than usual, but is still eating something, keep a close eye on how much it eats for the next two days. If your hamster stops eating completely, take it to the vet right away.
Monitor how active your hamster is
Hamsters are normally very active, especially at night. Your hamster will probably sleep most of the day, so don’t worry if your hamster sleeps a lot during the day. If your hamster seems to be groggy all the time and doesn’t want to play, something is probably wrong. If your hamster is suddenly less active and playful than it was before, keep a close eye on it for the next few days. If your hamster doesn’t get back to being as active as it normally is, take your hamster to the vet.
See if your hamster has diarrhea
Wet tail disease is a common disease in Syrian hamsters associated with diarrhea. It could indicate that your hamster has a very serious infection. Check for a wet mucilaginous substance at the bottom of your hamster’s tail. Your hamster may have a wet tail if it has diarrhea, eats less and is less active. Wet tail can be deadly within 48 hours. Therefore, you should take immediate action and go to the vet. If your vet determines that your hamster has the wet tail disease, he or she may prescribe antibiotics or an anti-diarrheal agent, or give your hamster fluids.
Look at your hamster's skin
Changes to your hamster’s skin may indicate health issues. Pay particular attention to signs of infection such as redness, swelling and abscesses. Red, scaly skin can be a sign of an infection or other skin conditions. Check for dehydration by pulling the loose skin (scruff) up over the shoulders of the hamster. Let it go and it should bounce right back down, which is normal. If your hamster is dehydrated, the skin will stay up like a point. This is a serious symptom and you should get your hamster examined by a vet right away. Your hamster may scratch more often if it has a skin problem. As a result, you may notice that your hamster has something wrong with its skin. However, your hamster can also get an infection if it scratches its skin.
Look at your hamster's coat
Normally, a hamster should have a full, shiny coat. Your hamster’s coat will thin as it ages. This is normal. However, if your hamster suddenly loses a lot of hair, it could be sick. If your hamster has wet, tangy hair on its stomach and tail, this could indicate an infection.
Look at the nose, mouth and eyes of your hamster
Pay particular attention to a runny nose, red or inflamed eyes and swollen cheeks. Hamsters often get a runny nose when they are sick and catch a cold very quickly. A cold isn’t usually fatal, but if the cold persists you should take your hamster to the vet. Your hamster has cheek pouches to carry food around. If you notice that these cheek pouches seem to be full for a long time, they may be infected.
- When in doubt, always go to the vet.
- When going to the vet, bring a detailed list of symptoms and behaviors you have noticed. This can help the vet rule out possible illnesses.