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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
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Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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my russian dwarf hamster has a dirty tail, which might also now contain blood. She has had

Customer Question

my russian dwarf hamster has a dirty tail, which might also now contain blood. She has had the dirty tail for over a week now, but is eating and drinking well and is still active. The cage doesn't seem to be any dirtier than usual. Any ideas?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

 

Can you tell me if the dirty material on Truffle's tail is feces or pus like material?

 

Are you seeing any normal feces in her cage? Or is soft or diarrhea?

 

What kind of diet is she on?

 

Has there been any more fruit or veggies in her diet? Or does she appear to be favoring and perhaps eating more?

 

Do you think she is drinking more?

 

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hello,


 


Thank for your response.


 


The dirty material appears to be faecal matter, which was discovered 10 days ago. Unfortunately I've been on holiday for a week, but checking her this morning I discovered that this was looking reddish in colour now too.


 


The only faeces I've found in her cage is completely normal.


 


She is on a hamster muesli diet, Millet and seeds and meal worms. I restrict the meal worms though as she prefers these to almost everything else. she also has a dried treat stick and occasional veggies.


 


I haven't added extra veggies to her diet and in fact for the last week she has had none.


 


I have another female russian dwarf who lives in a separate cage and they are both drinking the same amount.


 


Generally her behaviour hasn't changed. That said she tried to nip me when I picked her up today, which is out of character for her.


 


 

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for the further information about wee Truffle.

Even though she is appearing bright and well in herself, I'd be a wee bit concerned about this slight change in behavior alongside the fecal staining. The reason, as I am sure you will appreciate, is that hamsters are a prey species and instinct tells them to hide any signs that they feel unwell (since it would make the a target for predation). And if she nipped you, I'd be concerned that she does feel unwell enough to be taking a 'defense is the best offense' approach to put distance between herself and anyone else.

Now the fecal staining despite normal feces is certainly abnormal but not a big hint to what is amiss for her. If you had noted diarrhea in the cage or only on her, then we'd be thinking about things like wet tail or colitis. But with these more mild signs, we have to consider if there is a primary GI gastroenteritis (causing slightly sticky feces), if she has had a decrease in her fiber intake (either by what is offered but more often due to them selectively grazing), dental disease (which can lead to that selective grazing), or an internal issue that isn't giving us overt signs except a decline in grooming (which is the other consideration for fecal staining with normal feces). And just to note if the feces has not been completely normal, then we can see fresh blood from the colon becoming irritative. Furthermore, if the feces has been sitting on her skin, it can cause a moist dermatitis and scald + we could see fresh blood from this as well.

In her case, if you can comfortably handle her, it would be worth giving her a thorough examination. You want to check that she doesn't have a wet chin or disheveled coat over the chest and forepaws (hints of drooling). If you can, do have a peek in her mouth to assess her teeth. (you may only be able to appreciate the incisors but that is a start --for looking at the rest and ruling out tumors in the mouth, you may need your vet to do so). If they are overgrown or you suspect something amiss further into the mouth, then we'd want these checked for her by her vet.

Continuing your examination, the next step would be to wash her back end with warm water dampened cotton wool to see if there is any sign of skin based irritation. If there is, salt water bathing the area would be indicated (avoid topical creams because hamsters will just lick it off). If it is clear, then we have to consider that the blood could be part of a colitis, and that would be a cue to consider having a vet check for her so that this could be diagnosed and treated.

Finally, if all your external checks are normal, then you can consider a trial on a fibre supplement and GI microflora support agent to her diet. The fiber would help bulk up the feces and ensure proper fecal formation and passage. The microflora support would aid in settling the GI if there has been some kind of GI upset while you have been away. The two products that you might want to consider (and are available OTC at the vets) are the paste formulation called Protexin Fibreplex (link) or the pelleted fiber product called Protexin Pro-Fibre (link). (Do note that while these products are labeled for rabbits, it is the same one we'd use for small rodents like hamsters, example). Both have that fiber bolus we would want to give as well as a pro-biotic element to support that delicate GI microflora. So, this would be a consideration as long as the blood doesn't ape par to be coming from the GI itself.

Overall, hamsters are masters of hiding illness from us. Still the fecal staining and her grumpiness are hints that all is not right in the world of Truffle. Therefore, consider a thorough wee examination here. Depending on your findings, we'd want to address them as I have noted. And if all appears normal, then consider a fiber/microflora support and monitoring her to ensure that this isn't something brewing that she just doesn't want to tell us about.

If you don’t already have an exotics vet, you can find one near you at http://www.aemv.org/vetlist.cfm or (http://www.guinealynx.info/vetlist.html) . If you are struggling also check here (http://www.rabbit.org/vets/vets.html), as rabbit vets often see our wee pocket pets as well.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

Dr. B.

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Remember that if you have any lingering questions or concerns, please reply so that we may continue our conversation. I will be happy to work with your further and do everything I can to provide you with the service you seek. Please remember to rate my answer when you are satisfied (with 4-5 stars or a happy face) so that I may receive credit for my assistance. Thank you & have a great day. : )

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you again for your response. I haven't checked her teeth or cleaned the area around her tail and will certainly do this Immediately to gain further insight. I am confident however that her chin is not wet and her coat and paws are not affected either. I shall also keep a keen eye on her pal too.


 


Many thanks for all information and advice, it's been very informative and backs up my instincts too (nothing compared to skilled knowledge, but you know how it feels)!


 


Many Thanks.

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
You are very welcome.

I am glad we aren't seeing hints of drooling, since that makes severe dental disease and obstructive oral masses a wee bit less likely for Truffle. Still do have a good check over of her and hopefully we will just find that this is a wee bit of GI disturbance that we can resolve with GI support.

All the best,
Dr. B.



-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Remember that if you have any lingering questions or concerns, please reply so that we may continue our conversation. I will be happy to work with your further and do everything I can to provide you with the service you seek. Please remember to rate my answer when you are satisfied (with4-5 stars or a happy face) so that I may receive credit for my assistance. Thank you & have a great day. : )
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 6620
Experience: General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
Dr. B. and 5 other Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
Hi Prunella,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Truffle. How is everything going?

nekovet
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you so much for your follow up.


 


I took truffle to the vet on Monday 05th August. It turned out that she was bleeding from her Vulva! The vet couldn't feel anything untoward inside and so we are treating her for cystitis. Her behaviour is very much improved and the bleeding is significantly less now and resembles faecal dirt again!


 


She has been on the antibiotics for 7 days now and I wouldn't say she is completely better, but very much improved. Fingers crossed she will make a full recovery in the next few days.


 


Thanks again,


Regards,


Prunella

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for the update on wee Truffle.

I am glad to hear that your vet didn't feel anything sinister when examining wee Truffle. And even though she hasn't showing complete recovery yet, it is positive that she is showing improvement on the antibiotics. Therefore, keep up the good work and hopefully she will continue to improve and her signs will settle.

All the best,
Dr. B.

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Dr. B.
Dr. B.
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General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.