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if a hamster has loss of fur on his tummy is it sick

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if a hamster has loss of fur on his tummy is it sick
Submitted: 5 years ago.Category: Veterinary
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Answered in 2 minutes by:
8/3/2012
Veterinarian: Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian replied 5 years ago
Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 23,210
Experience: General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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Thank you for your question.

Are you seeing Astrid itching/scratching?

In the areas of hair loss, are you seeing any changes to the skin?
(ie ulcers, redness, sores, scab or pimples)

Does the belly look distended?

How is Astrid otherwise?
How is his eating/drinking and behavior?

What do you feed him?
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Veterinarian: Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian replied 5 years ago
Hi again,

It seems you are off line, so I will leave my thoughts on your wee one. If you can answer the questions above, this may help me narrow our concerns. I hope my thoughts are helpful in the meantime.

We can see hair loss in hamsters for a number of reasons. These can include bacterial infection, parasites, nutritional issues, and even metabolic disease and organ failure.

First, we can see hamsters have sensitivities to particular beddings, so you might want to try him on a different bedding (ie paper based) to rule out a topical allergy to the wood or chemicals used in this sawdust.

If we are seeing itchiness without hairloss then the first thing to rule out is mites. It is worth mentioning that some will appear as tiny specks on the hamsters, but often they are too small to appreciate and will be missed. If she is super itchy, then we can't rule out mange (which can be spread to people). Also, there mites called demodex that these animals are born with, and we can see flair ups of itching and hair loss when something else is lurking and weakening the immune system (and these take a microsope to catch in action).

If he has pimples/pustules, then that would tell us there is bacterial disease. Often this is a secondary issue and is caused by the microtrauma to the skin that scratching causes. If you do see pimples, then ideally he will need to be covered with antibiotics to get this under control.

As well, if your hamster been fed an imbalanced diet or is selective grazing (because of preference for the unhealthy bits or dental disease), then we can see itchy skin and hair loss in hamsters due to protein deficiency. Protein deficiency is also known to cause changes to the skin quality (drying/scaling which is the basis of the itch). As well, we can see diet causing skin issues if they are being overfed grains and cereals (ie corn). This is easily remedied by offering more fruits and vegetables in the diet or by feeding half the dry grain/seed mix with boiled rice or puffed rice cereal.

Once we rule out the above differentials, we do need to think about those hair loss associated illnesses that can be even more serious for hamsters. This includes kidney disease, cutaneous lymphoma (skin cancer), and a hormone disease called Cushings (an over production to the body's steroids)

Ideally, you want to cover him with an anti-parasitic spot on with ivermectin (ie Xeno) to help you treat and rule out mites/etc. As well, evaluate his protein intake and the grain content of his feed. Try to make sure he is getting >16% protein in the diet, and consider increasing her fruit/veggies. Together, these should help you address most of our differentials for the signs you are seeing. If you do rule these out and still have hair loss, then you should consider having her seen by his vet to determine if any of our more sinister diseases are the basis of his skin issues.


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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