All About Pets All About Pets All About Pets

Common hamster illnesses

Many children cannot resist the cute, furry faces of hamsters, and these lovable rodents are often the first pet a child is allowed to have. However, in some pet stores, hamsters are raised in close proximity with others and, if not properly cared for, can be susceptible to illness. It's only after the pet is brought home that symptoms may appear.

Responsible pet owners must be aware of any behavioral changes a hamster exhibits, as such changes might be indicative of illness. This can be challenging, as hamsters are largely nocturnal and only awaken after children go to bed at night.

Hamsters are susceptible to colds. A swollen nose and fluffed fur around the nose from wiping nasal discharge on bedding are some symptoms of a cold. The hamster may also be constipated or suffer from diarrhea.

Just like cats and dogs, hamsters also may host fleas and lice, which they often catch from other pets in the house. You may have to look carefully to determine if the hamster has these pests.

One of the biggest concerns of hamster owners is a condition called wet tail. Potentially fatal, wet tail is a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes extreme diarrhea. Stress is a big contributor to the onset of wet tail, which is why it is common among young hamsters getting acclimated to their new homes. Changes in diet, habitat and unsanitary living conditions also contribute to wet tail. Wet tail is best handled by a veterinarian who can offer medical advice for the best treatment possible.

Not all diarrhea is indicative of wet tail. A diet heavy in fruits and vegetables those foods might cause diarrhea. If the diarrhea disappears when these foods are removed from the hamster's diet, wet tail is likely not the culprit.