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Dr. Jo
Dr. Jo, Veterinarian
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 2813
Experience:  DVM from Iowa State University in 1994; actively engaged in private regular and emergency practice since that time.
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My hamster is really skinny, all she seems to do is sleep and

Customer Question

My hamster is really skinny, all she seems to do is sleep and store her food, i never really see her eating it, i bought her this berry and nut food and also got some Baked Croissants but she just stores both and everything i give her is usually at the bottom of her cage when i clean it out. But she is drinking well the water in her bottle is usually gone in 2 to 3 days. I don't know what to do i don't want to loose her she's my best friend
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Dr. Jo replied 6 years ago.
My name isXXXXX and I would be happy to help you with your question about Sophie. As a 1-year-old, I would hope that this is a simple problem that can be solved. We generally hope for a hamster to live to be 2-3 years old.

Just to be certain, are you really, really sure she is not eating. After all, the quantity of food stored in the cage can be significant, even if she is eating just fine.

Of course, the key to evaluating this is being certain that she really is abnormally thin.

To help my understand better, I've got a few more questions for you:

1. Is she the only hamster in this cage?
2. Is she the only hamster you have?
3. How long have you had her?
4. How certain are you about her age?
5. Have you taken her to the vet for an evaluation, especially of her teeth and body weight?

I'll be online off and on throughout the day and checking for your replies. I'll get back to you as quickly as I can with answers once I have this information.

Thank you,
Dr. Jo
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
to answer your questions

1. yes she is the only hamster in the cage
2. yes she is the only hamster i have
3. i have had her for about a year and a half
4. i'm not exactly sure about how old she is but the pet store said she was almost a year
5. no i have not taken her to the vet her teeth have never been large and her body weight has always been fine she was the chubby one out of the bunch when i got her and just this past week i have noticed the weight change and i put food in her dish last night around 6:30pm and not one piece is missing, also she usually runs around in her ball for about an hour it's only been 15 minutes that she has been in there and she is sleeping...
Expert:  Dr. Jo replied 6 years ago.
Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. The information you have given me has shed some light on a few things:

1. Since you have had her for a year and a half, you most certainly would indeed know her very well and be keen to pick up on the weight loss. I learned long ago to really trust a pet owner's perception of this type of thing when they know what they're doing. Likewise, it doesn't sound like there's any chance that you're wrong about her not eating, unfortunately.

2. Since she has not had tooth issues before, it is less likely that this would be due to dental issues now. Most of the time we see the first onset of dental problems in a hamster during the first 6-12 months of life. It is still possible that something has changed that is now causing her teeth to overgrow. A simple hard bump to the face can damage the jaw enough to make a tooth grow crooked, and without proper alignment, the tooth will overgrow. This eventually makes it so the hamster is unable to eat. Try your best to have a look in her mouth. The four teeth in front will be yellow and long, but they should be reasonably straight and even. It is also possible for her to have problems with her molars, but they are so far back in her mouth that it is hard to see them. I use an otoscope to examine them myself.

3. This is the sad bit of news. Since the pet store said she was almost a year old when you got her and you have had her for about a year and a half, she is very old for a hamster. Most hamsters only live 2-3 years maximum. The sad conclusion that I am lead to from this fact is that if this is not a problem due to her teeth, the chances of it being something that can be fixed are really small. I'm worried that this could mean that the end is near for poor Sophie.

Because this is potentially so severe, I would strongly encourage you to take Sophie to a vet as soon as possible----today! Be sure to use a vet who understands and has experience with small creatures like hamsters. Even if the vet has bad news for you, it will help to know what to expect. At the very best, XXXXX XXXXX be able to prescribe some treatment. Perhaps some fluids and extra warmth will help Sophie rally for a bit. At the very worst, if there is no hope and Sophie is suffering, the vet will be able to offer humane euthanasia as opposed to making Sophie continue to feel worse until the very end. I know that's a heartbreaking decision to consider, but it's the right thing to do if it's best for Sophie.

I hope this helps----but I am very worried about both of you.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
My neighbor is a vet also and i called her and she told me to try honey and water in an eye dropper for a couple days to give her the strength to stay awake and she also told me not to wake her up if it's during the day because even though i may think she is sleeping all the time she could be up when i am at work or out, i looked at her teeth they're straight but not long, but i noticed when i put her back into her cage that she walks with a hunch-back she never used to before, i really hope this is not the end for sophie she makes my life so interesting, and even though she is my second hamster i'm pretty sure she was the best, XXXXX XXXXX her trained which i never thought was possible like i tap on the door and she climbs up and when i say kisses she puts her head down so i can kiss her. i would really hate to loose such a wonderful animal
Expert:  Dr. Jo replied 6 years ago.
I have seen a lot of people with hamsters, but never anyone who has successfully trained one so well. That's exceptional! I agree with the honey water. Tiny bits of yogurt are good, too, but not the sugar free ones sweetened with Splenda, etc. Keep her favorite foods available, and add a heat lamp to part of the cage. This way she won't have to burn up as much energy to stay warm, even when she is not eating much.

I wish I had better news for you. I'm so sorry that she isn't doing well. At least it sounds like you are doing everything for her at home that you possibly can.