HAMSTER COLDS

I know! You hate when you have a cold that keeps you in the bed, away from all the fun. The hamster feels the same way! As a responsible hamster owner, you have to pay attention to your hamster health and take action at the slightest sign of  illness. In this moments, a first aid kit for your hamster is very useful.

hamster colds

Hamster colds causes:

hammyYou! Avoid handling your hamster if you have a cold. Take your medicines and you will be able to play with your hamster after you get rid of the pesky cold!

hammyIf they have the cage in a cold or draft room. Avoid putting the cage near windows, doors.

hammyIf they aren’t dried immediately after you gave the hamster a bath. Remember: bathing your hamster isn’t necessary. He does a good job grooming himself.

hammyIf their favorite sleeping place is under the water bottle.Or if you don’t use a water bottle and the hamster drinks water from a bowl. Being so active, there’s a big chance that the hamster might spill the water. This is messy for you as you need to clean the cage, but is dangerous for the hamster too as he can easily catch a cold.

Hamster colds symptoms: sneezing, runny nose, sniffling, half closed watery eyes, warm bodies, thirst, ears laid back, lack of activity, fatigue, noticeable discharge both from the eyes and the nose( this is why the nose may appear swollen). The fur might also have a fluffy, ungroomed look. Feeling not so great, the hamster would spend almost all the time curled up in a corner of his cage.

Severe hamster colds symptoms: lethargy, obvious and noisy sneezing and sniffling, refuse to drink and eat, weight loss, bad looking coat.

What to do if your hamster caught a cold:

hammyPlace the hamster’s cage into a warm, draft free area, if possible close to a radiator.

hammyClean and disinfect the cage, the water bottles, food dishes and all the toys there are in the hamster’s cage.

hammyAdd fresh and dry bedding, even more than usual because now more then ever your hamster needs to feel comfy and warm.

hammyHe needs strength to overcome the illness, so you can help  him by preparing a mixture of lukewarm milk, water and a bit of honey. If the hamster refuse to drink, feed him with the syringe or the eye dropper. Give him this home made treatment for a couple of days or so and watch how your hamster reacts to it. If the hamster get’s better, it’s time to celebrate with a snack. If, unfortunately, your hamster feels the same or even worse, take him to a vet check and antibiotics treatment.

You have to take action from the first cold symptoms you see. A cold without treatment will most likely develop into pneumonia or bronchitis. And these are not so easy to treat as the common cold!
To make sure your hamster gets the warmth he needs, put a heating pad (buy one that is specially for rodents to make sure it’s chew proof).

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HAMSTER ALLERGIES

If we humans have them, why shouldn’t the hamster have them as well? Symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, irritated stomach, wheezing,  red feet, hair loss, skin irritation, persistent and frequent itching or dry skin are all  signs that your hamster developed an allergy.

hamster allergies

Hamsters might develop allergies to food, bedding products or some household items.

1. Food allergy 

Hamsters are very sensible to diet changes. Every new type of food should be introduced into the hamster’s diet step by step. It’s not safe or neither healthy to stuff your hamster with packs of new vegetables and fruits every day.

The hamster must get used to the food and be able to digest it properly. In case not, he will most likely have an allergy or even worse, could be suffering from wet tail. If your hamster was allergy free before you started to feed him with a specific food item, remove that food from his diet because he doesn’t tolerate it.

You have no idea at what food your hamster is allergic? In this case put your hamster on dry food only until you figure at what food is he allergic. You do that by giving him one vegetable or fruit at a time and see how he reacts. If he starts the sneezing and other symptoms again, than that food must go.

2. Bedding Allergy

Are very common and due to the hamster’s respiratory sensibility. I  would be sneezing and have runny nose if I was kept in a cage full of dust (I imagine you would feel the same). If you have a hunch that the bedding is the one causing the allergy replace it with tissue or toilet paper and see what happens. If your hamster gets rid of the allergy, you have to get rid of something too…the bedding product.

When you buy your hamster supplies, make sure you avoid cedar and pine shavings. Some studies show that  they have a great impact both in hamsters allergies and respiratory diseases. Great alternatives to cedar and pine shavings are wood pulp fiber, aspen, eco-straw pellets, recycled newspapers and much more.

3. Household items allergy

Sometimes hamsters develop allergy to products we use, like aerosols, spray furniture polish, cigarette smoke, perfumes, air fresheners or any products we use for our hygiene or for home decoration. The only solution to this is the quickly removal of the allergen.

hammySevere allergies

In some cases, hamsters develop severe allergies from various reasons: the allergen was to strong, you found about the problem when it was already too late, the hamster was too small and he couldn’t fight it etc. If your hamsters has problems breathing or has severe allergy, you have to take it to vet as soon as you can to avoid any future complications.

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HAMSTER FIRST AID KIT

You have a first aid kit for you in your house or in your car, right? Well, your hamster deserves one too. Being so small, the hamster needs special attention and care.
It is best to have the first kit always prepared and handy just in case. Make sure that everyone in the house knows where it is and how to properly treat minor wounds.

hamster first aid kit

A well prepared and designed first aid kit should contain :

Antibiotic ointments and powder
Apply them on the wound  after it’s thoroughly clean. You should only use what the vet has recommended you and not improvise because hamsters are allergic to most of the medical treatment we have and use.

Antihistamine lotion
If you keep your hamster in a room where are opened windows or just if your hamster’s luck runs out and encounters with a bee or any other kind of insect, the antihistamine lotion is his lucky charm. You have to double check before you apply the lotion that the stinger is removed from your little hamster wound.

Antiseptic lotion
You have a crazy hamster that wonder’s around in the cage, buries everything and plays with his toys till you get tired from all of that commotion? Well, we all have such a hamster and is best to have an antiseptic lotion near the hamster’s cage to use it to treat wounds, cuts and scrapes that could occur from his “dangerous ” run  around.

Bandages and first aid tape
You can use them on smaller wounds, cuts or scrapes. Sometimes, you can use bandages to splint injured limbs, but only after you make sure that the injury is minor. Otherwise, medical treatment must be sought. Check the hamster periodically to see if he is chewing off the bandages and if so, replace it to prevent him from licking his wound.

BeneBac,Probios or LactoBac
These medicines replace all the beneficial bacteria that are killed when your hamsters is on antibiotics or he simply has a lack of these bacterias. Never use them without consulting your hamsters’ veterinarian.

Cotton balls and swabs
They are ideal for cleaning wounds and applying all kinds of ointments and lotions.

Disinfectant
A mild disinfectant such as Hydrogen Peroxide (3%) is of great help when your hamster’s wound needs to be disinfected. This disinfectant can be used in small amounts twice a day. Even you can use it to wash your hands after cleaning your hamster wound or just after you’ve handled any kind of injured animal. Other disinfectant recommended by veterinarians are Betadine or Povidone.

Feeding syringes
Are useful to feed hamsters that won’t eat or sick hamsters that can not eat by themselves. It’s appropriate for administrating oral antibiotics – make sure you use a syringe from the vet because the quantity of antibiotics administered is very important. As you know they come in various sizes so you can get the ones that are best for your hamster’s needs. If you dislike syringes you can use an eye dropper as a more fun alternative.

Gram scale
You are very careful with your weight, right? Hamsters need to have constant weight in order to be healthy and happy. Check your hamster’s weight as often as you can to make sure he is eating properly! This method is very useful especially when you have more hamsters in a cage to see if there are bullies in there, stealing the food from other hamsters.

Latex gloves
You can never be to careful when dealing with wounds. A pair of latex gloves are ideal to protect yourself and your hamster when cleaning and bandaging a wound. You can buy them from the drugstore, supermarket or you could just kindly ask the vet for a pair.

Magnifying glass
Hamsters are all so tiny and special care require special “devices”. the magnifying glass is one of them. You check your hamster fur with it to see if there are any parasites or any other small wounds, check his ears and many other funny and small tasks that need to be completed to ensure your hamster’s health.

Nail clipper and metal nail filer
Both for you and your hamster. You can cut your nails to prevent accidents during playtime. Also, the hamster’s nails need to be cut if he doesn’t naturally wear them off to the right size. Still, the hamster should have a designated nail clipper and metal nail file, for personal use only.

Olive oil / cod liver oil
Useful when treating mild constipation. You can administer 1 or 2 drops.

Rectal thermometer
This is a tricky one. Not buying the thermometer, but actually getting to use it because the hamster will use all his tricks to escape. A healthy hamster’s rectal temperature should be around 36.2- 37.5 °C (97.16 – 99.5 °F).

Salt
You can use it to make a home remedy for your hamster: prepare a solution made with 2 table spoon of table salt and one pint water. It will be very useful to wash wounds and prevent infection.

Scissors
When you prepare the first aid kit for your hamster make sure that you have the right scissors: it has to be the one with round edges to prevent any accident when using it on your hamster. The scissors has many purposes: cutting the fur from around the wound, removes knotted fur or cut pieces of bandages.

Small animal heating pad
If you are afraid that it might be cold in the room where you keep your hamster, a heated pad will solve the problem. They are “chew proof” and the temperature is controlled so your hamster will not end up with burned tummy. A great alternative is a heat lamp. Put the hamster cage underneath it and he will get all the warm weather he needs.

Sodium Bicarbonate
When applied on a wet compress it helps reduce swelling.

Styptic powder
I find this quite handy especially when I observe a scratch on my hamster or when I accidentally cut his nails too short, because it stops bleeding.

Surgical gauze
It is used to clean and also cover wounds, cuts and scrapes and stop bleeding.

Towels, both paper and cloth
Very useful when you need to wipe your hamster or even his cage. If you use a bowl instead a hamster water bottle, you will have to use the towels more often because your hamster might end up very wet after a short run in the cage.

Tweezers
I haven’t needed mine, but you never know what your hamster is up to so you should be prepared just in case.

Unflavored Pedialyte
This solution that is specifically designed to replace fluids and minerals (electrolytes) that are lost when your hamster has diarrhea with or without vomiting. Dilute 50% (1/2 Pedialyte and 1/2 water) and administer it by dropper/syringe or in the water bottle (in case that your hamster drinks voluntarily).

Vet’s name, address and phone
Even if hamsters are among the most familiar pets, there are few vets that treat them. It’s very important to find one before your hamster really needs it -sometimes it’s bets to find a vet even before you actually buy the hamster.

Wire cutter
You might laugh, but there are a lot of cases of hamsters that got stuck between the bars of their cage. This tool is handy in such cases.

You can always add more products to the first aid kit, depending on your hamster needs and health condition. Even if you have the best first aid kit, I do hope you will need it rarely!

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HAMSTER BODY LANGUAGE

Even if we would love it, hamsters can not talk. Still, they have a language of their own : vocalizations and body language.But this only helps them. How about us? How we can understand them? Well, just like they do. Learn their body language and when in doubt, just take a lucky guess.

Grooming
hamster grooming
This is a huge part of the hamster’s natural behavior. The hamster is cleaning himself by licking his paws and then rubs his face, ears, fur, the whole body. Hamsters are their own groomer and they do a very good job with that . It’s recommended that you bath your hamster only when the vets detects some illness symptoms and a bath is absolutely necessary.

hammyWhen and why:
After he wakes up, during playtime and after playtime, the hamster will gladly groom himself. Grooming it’s a sign that your hamster is healthy and happy.

Listening
hamster listening
The hamster is standing up on his back legs with ears up, motionless and staring  at something.
hammyWhen and why:
The hamster seen or heard something interesting and he is according it his total attention. This will assure you that your hamster is healthy and also curious -lucky us.

Sniffing
hamster sniffing
I guess we are all familiar with this one! The hamster is continuously sniffing , moving his whiskers up and down, left and right, everywhere!
hammyWhen and why:
The hamster found an interesting smell or he is just wondering  around and exploring. If the smell  bothers him, the sniffing will transform into sneezing.This will assure you that your hamster is healthy and also curious.

Sneezing
hamster sneezing
Is a small repeated noise and is followed by small or bigger pulses in the hamster’s body.
hammyWhen and why:
The hamster’s nose is very sensible and will rapidly react to every allergen or small change that has been made in his cage or in the room he’s in.
Sneezing could be a sign of illness (allergies, colds or influenza) or maybe the hamster is trying to show to you that the air is too dusty.

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