Pet parents know their babies better than anyone. And when your usually happy-go-lucky little guy is acting or looking different, it’s worrisome and scary. But before going into full-blown panic mode, it’s important to understand if they’re actually ill, or if they’re just having an off day. So what are the symptoms of a sick hamster?
Hamsters are typically going to show one (or more) of the following signs if they’re under the weather. (Of course, other symptoms may present, too, but these are the most common.)
- Loss of appetite
- Wetness around the tail
- Hair Loss
- Sneezing, wheezing, discharge from nose or eyes
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s best to quarantine away from other pets, family members, bright light and noise. And isolation in a quiet area can sometimes help speed up recovery time.
There are lots of possible things that cause hamsters to fall ill. But let’s focus on what to do if you're asking yourself the question: "Is my hamster sick?" and you suspect that they are.
One of the most common symptoms of a sick hamster is loss of appetite. And because these guys are so little, not eating can be fatal. So what do you do? Try moving their food dish closer to where they sleep so they can reach it… sounds pretty simple, but it may help.
Offer higher-calorie foods that are easy to eat. Hard-boiled or scrambled eggs in small amounts, tiny bits of cooked chicken, and baby food (fruits or veggies) are all good options. (Baby food can be fed through a medicine or eye dropper.) But be cautious. Don’t let your hamster continue to eat without a break… this can make them worse.
Liquids are SUPER important. Like with food, move the water bottle close to their sleeping quarters for easier access. If they’re still not drinking, try offering via an eye dropper. A weak (half water, half electrolyte) unflavored electrolyte solution can be used as well.
Keep 'Em Comfy
It’s common for sick hamsters to become chilled, so you want to keep them warm (but not hot, which can lead to death by heatstroke). Give them some extra bedding to make a nest and curl up… this can help fight the yucky cold feeling of their illness.
Even though they may love it, try removing their exercise wheel until they’re feeling better. Some hamsters continue to exercise when sick, and we don’t want that. Injury or dehydration are possible outcomes.
After a few days, if you’re not seeing your hamster improve or their condition is getting worse, head to your veterinarian. They’re going to be able to help you understand what’s going on and treat the exact cause. And probably give you a lot of peace of mind.