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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 21198
Experience:  I am a small animal veterinarian and am happy to discuss any concerns & questions you have on any species.
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I also have a female hamster that is bout 2 years old whos

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I also have a female hamster that is bout 2 years old who's body has blown up to almost tice its size. The only thing that remains the normal size is its head every thing behind that has blown up. it happened suddenly after I changed the shavings to a different kind. I checked it everyday or 2 weeks and it was fine but I checked it yesterday and it was blown up.
Hello & welcome to Just Answer/Pearl. I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

It is unlikely that the shavings are directly responsible (unless she has eaten them and obstructed). But can you tell me what kind of shavings these were?

Can she pass feces and urine as normal?
Is she passing either at all? Or increased amounts of either?

Has she been drinking more?
Eating more or less?

Any hair loss?

Does Samantha appear lethargic, restless, or collapsed?
OOh, it looks like two of my questions got cut off.

As well, has there been any change to her breathing?

Does this bloated belly feel hard or like a taut water balloon?

Hi again,

I didn't hear back from you and you do appear offline now. Therefore, I do want to leave my thoughts about your wee one since her situation is quite serious.

First, if you haven't noticed her passing any feces, then constipation must be on the top of our list for your wee one. And if that is the case, this would be something that you can address at home. The offering of foods with high water content is a good start. Further to that, you can also treat her with a bit of kitty hairball medication (ie. Catalax). This is available from the vet or the pet shop. It works to lubricate the gut and can facilitate the movement of feces out of the rectum. Alternatively, you can administer a small volume of Miralax, lactulose (LINK) or mineral oil orally (ideally offer in food or if given via oral syringe then take care to avoid aspiration, since that would cause problems we'd best avoid) as a GI lubricant. Furthermore, if she is eating you can mix in some canned pumpkin or a pinch of unflavored Metamucil. Just like people, these can restore fecal output regularity. For ease of administering and getting some more fluids/nutrition into her if she is not eating properly, you can give this in veggie baby food.

Now if she is passing feces, then we have other issues to consider for the bloating. Because to have a hamster that is unnaturally bloated but is passing a normal amount of food and feces through her guts, this means that gastrointestinal based disease is less likely for her. That means we need to consider conditions of other organs of the abdomen.

The reason I have asked about her urination is to determine if she is 1) able to urinate (and doesn't have a blocked bladder causing distension) or 2) if her urination had increased (therefore leading to larger bladders more often, which could be a hint of hormone disease like diabetes or cushings).

Otherwise, enlargement of any other organ in the abdomen would like be due to a cyst or tumor (benign or malignant). These can arise on any organ within the abdomen (ie kidney, liver, etc). It can also arise from fluid accumulation in the abdomen which can be seen with organ diseases (like those of the heart or liver).

And as she is a female, we can also see distending diseases centered around the reproductive tract. This can cysts/tumors of the ovaries or uterus. Or we can see uterine infections called pyometra manifest in this manner. In the case of pyometras, we may see pus like discharge at her vulva if it is an open infection but if it is a closed infection then the distension may be all we see.

In Samantha’s case, without knowing when you last saw any urination and how long she has been bloated for, we cannot rule out urinary blockages. If this is all recent in onset and you haven't seem her urinate (or wet bedding), then you want to have her seen as soon as possible since urinary blockages can be fatal.

Otherwise, even our other differentials would really value from her being examined by her vet.
This is because there is no benign reason for abdominal distension and all of these differentials are quite serious for your wee lass. The vet may be able to identify which of these is causing distension in the abdominal region or they may be able to pop the ultrasound probe on her belly and tell you if this is fluid (like a cyst or a bladder issue) or if she does have a mass growing in his abdomen. Furthermore, then can rule out uterine infection, which often needs at least antibiotics if not surgery to spay her and remove the infected uterus. Depending on the findings, they will be able to give you an idea if she can be treated and what her overall prognosis is for the long term. But as most of these are quite serious, it would be prudent to be proactive to give her the best chance here.

I hope this information is helpful.
Please do let me know if you have any further questions.
If you have no further questions, feedback is always appreciated.

All the best,

Dr. B.


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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I don't know if it changes anything but I have the answers to your las t 2 questions. Her breathing has not changed and her belly is like a taut water balloon though slightly hard as well.

Hi again,

Unfortunately, that wee bit more information alone does not allow us to rule out any of the concerns that I have listed above. That said, if she is breathing normally, this does tell us that the situation has not yet reached such a severe point where the distension is preventing her taking full breaths. Therefore, this is a wee positive that means that addressing the underlying cause now may allow us to get her through this sudden bloat inducing condition.

Dr. B.
Hi Amanda,

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