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Forum Home > General questions concerning your hamster > Sticky: Illness/Sickness..what to look for & poss help.

Posts: 1346

Hi all:),this page was created so members and guests alike can find some info & help on their hamsters who are poorly.

There are many reasons & factors why a hamster or small animal gets poorly / sick,and this sometimes comes about from one problem or condition.


Hope this helps ,if there is something that is not listed or nothing seems to help,then I suggest you need / seek help from a small animal vet who HAS dealt with Hamsters before,so they can diagnose and treat accordingly.


NB..This list and suggested remedies are for purely homehelp ,and come from actual members knowledge and experience also some help from Wikipedia.Along with my own knowlege of being a Healthcare professional,many illnesses and treatments can be similar to our own. The remedies given below have been tried & tested.


Common sickness and problems are listed below in Alphabetical Order,so scroll down and read about the one you need help with.




Allergies:-are where the hamster is sufferring from side effects from bedding/chemicals.

Symptoms:-skin rash,scratching a lot,breathing problems.

Help:-change bedding,use safe cleaning products which are non-toxic.Use Pure Aloe vera gel rubbed over area and increase Vit-A intake(carrots are good source).



Abcesses:-Lump filled with infected pus.

Symptoms:-lump on skin cuased by a bite or on injury / cut that has noy healed properly.Also can be found in mouths due to over grown teeth.

Help:-Veterinarain help is needed,to lance and treat with antibiotics. Teeth can be clipped by the vet too.




Balding:-loss of fur to one area or in general.

Symptoms:-patchy loss of fur,rash,red sore looking skin.

Help:-refer to Allergies,mites.



Broken bones:-as said .

Symptoms:-mis- alined bone with swelling in area,not easy on movement and limping.

Help:-most breaks heal themselfs in hamsters,however a nasty fall can sustain a broken back-which then needs vets help & most likely outcome is to put your hammy to sleep.For a broken limb remove any toys and climbing stuff to enable little movement/pressure and ask vet for some anti-imflamatory painkillers



Breathing probs:-refer to Respiratory Probs.



Bleeding:-from cuts or scratches refer to C,from penis or vagina....can be a possible UTI (urine infection)which will need to be treated with anti-biotics such as Baytril or Albon. You can also feed them dandelions which have not been sprayed with any pesticides etc.




Cuts:-from possible fights or sharp toys or loose fixture in cage.

Symptoms:-new wound or old dry scab present on body/rear end or face.

Help:-If from a fight remove the cage mate as once blood has been drawn this will then lead onto further more aggressive fighting,check toys and cage and take out or replace to safer ones.If the cut is still wet,clean with a saline sollution or cooled/salted boiled water.



Cancer:-is any type of growth or tumour that infects healthy skin and organs.It can spread quickly and can be treated if found early enough,if not then unfortunately death is the likely outcome.

Older and female hamsters seem to suffer more.

Symptoms:-undefined lump or tumor which can appear quickly.Bulges around the abdomen and throat area.Weight loss,lethargy,no appetite and possible fevers.Cancer also can be an 'open sore' that tends to bleed and have an abnormal discharge present too.

Help:-All looking lumps and abcesses SHOULD be examined by a Vet. Most cancers are treatable,however dependant on age & how long the cancer has gone undetected can result in a haredr time in recovery after treatment and surgery.



Constipation:-not being able to pass droppings/poo.

Symptoms:-little or no poo being passed .Swollen belly,looking bloated ,lethargy and not eating properly.Lack of water which is not easily accessible.

Help:-make sure water is available and easy to reach,Give extra fresh fruit/veg in small amounts that have a high fluid content .eg.Grapes(seedless) and cucmber. Also you can put a drop of Olive-oil on your fingertip and let them lick it.If they still are struggling to poo then take to the Vets and they can give a laxative.



Cannabalism:-This is not an illness/disease ,but does happen.

i. Normally this occurs in new nursing mothers who do not have enough food so she can produce the milk her young need. The weakest pup tends to be 1st to be eaten unfortunately.

Help:-Provide a good amount of food which is nutritional ,also provide the Mum with extra protein,plain yoghurt,bread soaked in milk.

ii. This again happens after 2 adults who have fought before ,though this time ending in death for the loser.The victor in this scenario eats the body as they would in the wild to hide it from natural predators.

Help:-Do NOT keep 2 adults who have fourght previuosly with blood being drawn as a result. This is more common in Syrians.



Corprophagy:-When a hammy eats its own faeces (poo).

This is not an illness,it is a natural habit for them to do-however,if they are unable to do this,like not being able to bend or have tooth problems ,they can reslut in having problems with their digestive tract and will have vitamin defficiencies ok.




Diabetes:-This is a common illness where the hamster is unable to maintain a stable sugar / glucose balance.

Symptoms:-lots of drinking.urinating frequently ,strong smelling pee,weght loss and lethargic.

Help:-Obtain diabetic testing strips form your pharmacist. Test urine and if a high glucose content appears then this is a sign of having diabetes and the Vet must be contacted to give presribed treatment, you also can give a healthy balanced diet which does not contain a high sugar content, but rich in other minerals and vitamins.



Diarrhea:-loose poo / droppings

Symptoms:-loose lighter looking poo with them having a dirty bottom area.

Help:-give fresh clean water every day,stop feeding fresh friut/veg-though Raspberry leaves are recommended, give them dried food only , toast is good,and if it contnues then help is needed from the vets. You can also get some Kaolin/Kaomix form any pharmacy too.




Ear infections :-a said.

Symptoms:-General loss of balance and holding of head to one side.

Help:-Anti-biotics are needed which can reslove it in a few days, keep climbing toys out of cage area for a while as well.



Ear mites:-Notodres (specific name) hamster ear mites.

Symptoms:-Crusty looking ears & lobes,loss of fur and maybe crustiness on feet and face. Sratching a lot and irritable.

Help:-Invermectin can be given orally by the vets and a Home made solution can be sprayed onto invested area.

Recipe for; 1pt room temp water,

1tbs Witchhazel,

1tbs Listerine mouthwash(unflavoured one).

Mix in a vapourizer and spray areas ,be sure to protect the eyes. Do not drown them in it ,only a light covering used over a couple of days until cleared up.




Fits:-uncontrollable convultions/seizures.

Symptoms:-as above,can be found more in a hammywho has another underlying illness .eg. Diabetes or from a head injury.

Help:-Keep hamster in a quiet dark room,and once settled seek Veterinary help ,need to know why fiiting/convulsing ok.



Fleas:-As said,they are small brown insects which ARE visible to the naked eye.

Symptoms:-exessive itching/grooming with dry skin.Their coat/fur will have specks of flea "dirt"-which is dry blood-this"dirt" when put on plain paper turns red when a drop of water is added ok.

Help:-Anti-mitepowder or spray should be used on fur,or your vet can give Fipronil.ALL other household pets SHOULD be treated too ok.Clean out cage thoroughly and use powder/spray here aswell.




G-none known.



Haematuria:-blood present in urine

Symptoms:-as said,blood can be bright red (fresh) OR dark red (old) ok,This can be caused by an underling infection or condition that has not been diagnosed & treated for,eg Kidney Disease,also it can be caused by bladder stones -to which you can give dandelion leaves to help .Blood stained urine in Females may mean a problem with the womb/vagina. Eg. Pyometra.

Help: Plenty of fluid, dandelion leaves help ease pain and passing of stones. Also electrolytes,(pedialyte) can be given and vet advice sought.



Hamster Plague:-This is a new infectious disease still under investigation.

Symptoms:-Your hammy will feel cold be tired and become dehydrated quickly.Fits also start and can be fatal over in a 24hr period.Its cause is still yet unknown.

Help:-Unfortunately there is no treatment,as studies are ongoing ok.However you can keep them warm and as comfortable as possible and in a quiet enviroment with plenty of fliuds(this will only ease any suffering as death is not preventable sorry:().



Impacted Cheek Pouches:-as said.

Symptoms:-Swollen cheeks/face,neck area,with exessive salivation (dribbling).Cuased by sticky ,chocolate etc.

Help:-Generally a vet is needed as they will requirean aneasthectic and the mouth to be flushed/rinsed out with a saline solltion.HOWEVER if you are confident in your handling skills yo shuold be able to gently manipulate/squeeze the sides of the cheeks to help them to depouch ok .



J-none known.




Kidney Disease:-common in hamsters ,though owners are not aware .

Symptoms:-Excessive drinking & urinating.Blood may be present in wee.wieght loo due to protiens lost in wee.Swollen abdomen due to slow build up of fluid.

Help:-Always give fresh water,offer cooked rice and cereal,reduce intake of protiens whilst adding Vitamin drops in water to supplement ok.



L-none known.




Mange:-Contagous skin infection caused by mites.

Symptoms:-Exessive scratching,dry / flaky skin, fur loss, crusty scabs on face, ears and generally all over body.

Help:-Isolate from cagemates, Seek medical help immediately. Sterilze EVERY thing thats been into contact with infected hammy, and use anti-bacterail hand soap too.



Mites:-When small dots are visible & moving in their fur.

Symptoms:-Lots of scratching & cleaning , red and imflamed looking skin.

Help:-Use the Homemade solution listed under Ear Mites,And you can dust them in a powder called 'Pyrethrin' or spray. If Symptoms persist seek help ok.



N-none known.




Obesity:-as said.

Symptoms:-Overweight & reluctant to move or exercise.

Help:-Give a reduced diet intake of any kind of treats,offer less sun-flower seeds as they are very fattening.Give more greens and fruit.Place extra climbing toys and use a hamster ball to encourage more exercise ok.



Ovarian Cysts:-common in females who have not bred/mated.

Sympyoms:-dark bloody discharge from the vulva/vagina areas Showing a large swollen abdomen.

Help:-Only surgery is the option for any treatment-this will need the ovaries/womb to be removed ok





Parasites:-as mentioned in Mange & Mites.



Pregnancy:-Again not an illness.

However to determine that your hammy is you would notice that they are starting to get fatter, more crabby,and making lots of nests and does not liked being handled to much either. They are normally expectant for 3/4 wks and have a litter a of 4/6 pups though more could be had


Psuedopregnancy:-this is when a female displays all the traits of being pregnant-however is not.(Phantom pregnancy)Can be coomon in females who have mated with a male who is infertile.No treatment as this will just take its cause ok.



Pyometra:-An infection of the womb.

Symptoms:-Pyometra can be an open/closed infection.

Open-has vaginal dischareg of pus;

Closed-has no discharge ok .....Thuogh in both cases the abdomen will be swollen from a collection of pus.This can happen when a female does notcomplete a birth (parturition),so the dead pup or placenta has not been delivered and passed out of the womb.

Help:-Surgery is needed (Ovariohysterectomy) and foolwed by anti-biotics ok.Rest and as much relaxation is needed (I know this will be hard,so have a limited amount of toys in cage ok ).Up untill very recently Veterinarian Institutions have found that the drug Galastop to be very effective in this condition.



Q-none known.




Respiratory Problems:-can be caused by Allergies,in which some can be found in bedding material these are Phenols / oils that are present and irritate the respiratory system.

Symptoms:-Wheezing,difficulty in catching breath,clicking noise on inhaling / exhaling.

Help:-Remove all bedding and replace with safer alternative. Thyme(herb) can be crushed and used as a decongestant when added to boiled water - leave next to cage so they can smell the vapours. Never IN the cage.



Stress:-As said.

Symptoms;-Change in mannerism,behaviour.Either being very quiet,unresponsive and not their normal selves in health or daily routine...OR... acting very strange and showing signs of hyperactivity and a feeling off being unsettled.

Help:-Yeast can be given a food suplement ok,not the garlic flavoured one ok.This helps with stress levels.If your hamster is on the quiet side observe closely make sure that they are comfortable and have plenty of fresh food & water.... give yeast ok ..a pinch or 1/2 a tablet with their hammy mix.Also if your hamster is hyperactive ,place them in a qiueter room where its not too hot,calm things down again give yeast and closely observe over a few days.If they are housed with a mate observe them too as there could be some bullying invovled that is causing the stress and change in behaviour ok.




Tumours : look at Cancer listing.




Urolithiasis:-otherwise known as bladder stones-look at Haematuria & follow advice ok.





The Proffessional you SHOULD seek if any situations worsens or you are unsure of.

'Better to be safe than sorry'.-Dont you think!!. best to cover your hammys ears before you mention the name. or spell it out slowly      V....................... E........................ T................... :lol:




Wet tail:-caused by stress or bacteria affecting the intestines due to low immune-system.

Symptoms:-Sever loose droppings ,dehydration.very dirty bottom and lethargic.

Help:-Veterinarian help needed immediately.Can be treated with Baytril. Seperate from cage mates as is highly contagous, Feed dry food only , Toast is very good,fresh water with a solution called 'Pedialyte' in to brings backup their electrolyte levels. Plain organic yoghurt can also be given this helps restore the guts natural ph levels ok.



X-none known.


Y-none known.


Z-none known.




I am sorry if this is a long list ,as I have tried to list all the illnesses that I know of .

Once again can I stress that this was compiled by tried & tested remedies from different sources / members that I trust in.

Please seek help where neccessary ,I know vets are expensive , however sometimes a quick call is all it takes for help and sound advice.


Best Regards Tracy :).


Many thx to Piparazzi ;)as I originally compiled a similar list for her site ,however this list has just been updated .:D.Mrsfish 2010.


Mrs Fish

Please remember "1photo" per album rule guys ok...:D.

August 26, 2010 at 4:28 PM Flag Quote & Reply

The Weaver
Posts: 1018

Excellent list!



August 26, 2010 at 4:32 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 57

Oh wow! This seems very useful, and has practically everything on it! This must've taken time to put together. Nice work!


RIP Thyme.

Visit my site at

My Roborovski Hamster is a site that is fulfilled to

helping out roborovski owners.

Visit now!

August 26, 2010 at 5:11 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 1366

Just thought I would comment and say, this is an excellent list and will certainly be a massive help to many-It's good just to read about the information so we know what to look out for :) 


Robo Love...:)     Moderator...:)

August 27, 2010 at 7:58 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 65

Hi. I have a syrian hamster who is about 1 year and 8 months old who has a weepy eye (looks like water was on it?) and wetness around her tail. I don't know if this is wettail or diarrhea. Please help! She acts kinda hyper but I'm not sure if that has something to do with anything. I've just noticed this about half an hour ago and otherwise she seems to be pretty normal. Help! Thank you sooooo much in advance. I don't want to loose my baby!




<3 Rest in peace Tulip. 11/9/10

I love my Russian Dwarf, Derby!  (:

September 10, 2010 at 10:31 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 1346

Hi sorry to answer this late...could she have something in the cage that has irritated her eye? maybe.Or shemight have a hair thats grown back on its-self and irritaing it causing the eye to weep.

If its wet tail there wuold be an exessive amount of diarrohea and her bottom would be covered and her cage very messy as you could is needed asap ok from a vets.If not ..could she have sat in a wetspot of her cagefrom a leaky bottle....or even her toilet area has become too saturated perhaps?....

Dont mean to be rude and I hope I have helped though this is a Robo site aimed at Robo issues etc...however hamsters do appear to have similar health problems no matter what breed.Tracy:)


Mrs Fish

Please remember "1photo" per album rule guys ok...:D.

September 13, 2010 at 4:59 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 65

Hi again. Thank you for responding. Her eye hasn't been weepy since that night and it looks OK. Her tail-area has dried up and it definatly wasn't wet tail so I'm thinking maybe she did just sit in a wet spot in her cage. Also, I apologize for putting this on a robo website. I was scared and immedietly jumped on here to ask because its the only site (that I know of) where people are always here to answer quickly. Thank you so much.



<3 Rest in peace Tulip. 11/9/10

I love my Russian Dwarf, Derby!  (:

September 14, 2010 at 5:01 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 1346

Your most welcome and I'm glad she is back to normal.Tracy:)


Mrs Fish

Please remember "1photo" per album rule guys ok...:D.

September 15, 2010 at 12:39 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 1346

Hi every one I am going to lock this topic ok as its really here for referance,please ask in the main section of this forum if you still require further advice on health issues that you are unsure off...we are as always willing to help where poss:)   Tracy:)


Mrs Fish

Please remember "1photo" per album rule guys ok...:D.

September 15, 2010 at 12:45 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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