When a hamster is sick it can be a worrying experience for any owner. Without the proper training of a veterinarian, it’s hard to know what to do and often times, what to feed your hamster without making their illness worse.
So that’s why we wrote this article, to cover the foods that are safe to feed a sick hamster.
We’re first going to provide a list of foods that are ideal for a sick hamster to consume and then cover some of the most worrying signs that can be indicative of a larger issue with your furry friend. And finally we’ll cover some of the most important ways that you can help your sick hamster.
Feel free to click any of the links below to be taken directly to that section of the article:
And without further ado, let’s go over the foods that are the safest for a sick hamster.
List of foods for a sick hamster
While hamsters should have a well-balanced diet of specially designed pellets and other occasional treats to add some variety, when they’re sick they should have a much stricter diet to help them get better and prevent any complications.
That generally includes a lot of foods that are easier on their stomach, less acidic, and not very exciting.
Ultimately, the goal is to give them foods that are easy to digest and can expedite the healing process. After all, when your hamster is sick, the top priority is just getting them better.
Here are the foods that are best served to a sick hamster:
|Foods for Sick Hamster|
|Baby food (carrot or potato flavors)|
|Porridge of their pellets mixed with water|
As you can tell, most of the foods above are plain without a ton of flavor. And that’s the point.
Blander and plain foods are generally easier on your hamster’s stomach and digestive system. And if your furry friend can dedicate fewer internal resources to digesting food, it can make the overall healing process go faster.
And while you may be surprised to see baby food on this list, it’s a great option if your hamster is sick. Baby food is a great option because it is easy to digest, fairly bland, and won’t cause any digestive issues. So go ahead and let your hamster eat baby food next time they’re feeling a little under the weather.
But something else that’s important to note is that you shouldn’t give your hamster all of these items because the wide variety can cause their own issues.
So pick no more than 2 or 3 items, give them to your hamster, and gauge their reaction. If they like the foods and have no adverse effects, continue giving them that food until they are better.
The goal here is to give your hamster foods that are easy on their system and allow them to dedicate more resources to getting better instead of digesting their food. That means sticking with healthy and fairly bland foods and avoiding anything the is seasoned, spicy, or junk food.
And if you found tiny bugs in your hamster’s food, we have an article on what to do then as well.
Now let’s jump into what you should watch out for when you have a sick hamster.
What to watch out for with a sick hamster
Providing a specific diet to a sick hamster is a good first step in their journey to making a full recovery. But there’s more to do to ensure they will make that recovery.
Weight loss, wet tail, and hair loss can be symptoms of a larger health issue that won’t be resolved by just changing their diet to more bland foods. Wet tail can actually be a fatal diagnosis if not addressed quickly and be a trained veterinarian.
As a result, if your hamster is sick, it’s important to update their diet to the foods listed above, but you should also watch out for more worrying signs.
Let’s talk about weight loss first.
Hamsters generally don’t weigh a lot to begin with, often being between 4 and 7 ounces. So maintaining a solid weight is very important for their health. That’s weigh watching for any signs of weight loss is very important when your hamster is sick.
Even losing 1 ounce during a bout of illness can be 25% of their body weight. Imagine if you weighed 150 pounds and lost 38 pounds in a period of a week. Puts it into perspective, right?
As a result, it’s important that when your hamster is sick you weigh them regularly to ensure they are not losing any significant amount of weight. Even an ounce or two can cause significant issues.
If you’re weighing them regularly and they are losing weight or not eating, you should take them to a veterinarian to get a full checkup and uncover any larger underlying illnesses.
Your vet will be able to diagnose any larger issues and provide direction and recommendations on how to get them back to a healthy weight and ultimately beat any illnesses they’re battling.
If you’re ever in doubt, going to a veterinarian should be your first course of action.
Next, we’re going to talk about wet tail, which is a serious illness that should be addressed immediately. Wet tail is essentially diarrhea in hamsters, but is a serious condition and often fatal in small animals.
Diarrhea can lead to severe dehydration if not addressed quickly and that dehydration can lead to a myriad of other health issues and eventually your hamster’s untimely demise.
Wet tail is often identified by finding a diarrhea in their cage or stuck to their tail or bottom. If you notice this happening, take them to the vet immediately to get a full diagnosis and recommended treatment plan.
If your hamster has wet tail, they are seriously sick and need to be treated immediately. The longer you go without treatment, the more likely it is that your hamster won’t fully recover.
Treatments can cost between $50 and $150, but if they aren’t treated it is very likely that your hamster won’t survive the ordeal. So while it can be costly, it’s vitally important to get them treated as soon as possible.
Hair loss in hamsters is another identifiable symptom of a larger, underlying health issue. If you notice your hamster losing hair, it can be a result of a physical illness or mental illness, such as stress or anxiety.
Both can be detrimental to your hamster’s overall well-being and it’s important they are addressed.
Physical reasons for hair loss can include an illness or feeling sick, a change in their diet, a physical injury such as falling or stabbing themselves on their cage, as well as something that is not safe in their cage.
Also, hair loss or bald spots can arise if your hamster isn’t getting enough food or water. That’s why it’s so important to ensure they have plenty of food and water to stay happy and healthy.
Mental reasons for hair loss often include stress, anxiety, prolonged feelings of scared, cleanliness, and more. A hamster’s environment is very important to making them feel happy and healthy and if their cage is dirty or they’re constantly being watched by a large predator, such as a cat, you’ll likely see signs of hair loss.
As a result, if you notice hair loss in your hamster it could be due to a physical illness or sickness that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. When hair loss occurs, it’s clear your hamster has already been going through something for a while so the sooner you can get them treated, the better.
How to help your sick hamster
By this point, you know what to feed your hamster while they’re sick and how to identify potentially dangerous behaviors. Now it’s time to learn how to help your sick hamster and ensure they will start feeling better as soon as possible.
Let’s talk about what to do now.
Take them to the vet
The first thing you should always do if you suspect your hamster is ill or behaving oddly is to take them to the veterinarian. Only a trained professional can properly diagnose and recommend a treatment plan for your furry friend.
What may seem like normal or just quirky behavior can actually be a sign of something far more serious and life threatening. Walking slowly, not exercising, rolling on their back, and an inability to maintain their balance are all signs of something more serious. And here’s a full list of hamsters behaviors with summaries of what each means.
While it may be cute to see your hamster lay around all day being lazy, that type of lethargy can actually be a symptom of a more serious, physical illness.
As a result, a trained veterinarian can review your hamster’s behavior and provide a physical checkup to diagnose and treat any health issues that may be plaguing your hamster.
But it’s always best to get any diagnosis as soon as possible. The longer a health issue goes without being treated, the less likely it is for your hamster to make a full recovery. So as soon as you suspect something is off, take your furry friend to the vet for a check up.
Ensure they have plenty of food and water
If you suspect your hamster is sick, you should always ensure that they have plenty of fresh food and a fresh supply of water. This also applies to times when your hamster isn’t sick, but it’s especially important when your hamster isn’t feeling great because not eating food or drinking water can make most health conditions worse.
And it’s important to make the food and water easily accessible. If you find your hamster is struggling with their water bottle, try to put a small bowl of fresh water in their cage, as a temporary solution until they get better.
Also, ensure that you are providing your furry friend with fresh food and water. That means changing it out daily to make the food and water more appealing. If you never see your hamster drink water, that’s a different story and should be addressed separately and after they recover.
What you’re really trying to do here is to encourage your hamster to drink enough water and eat enough fresh food to stay as healthy as they can. Not eating or drinking enough can make any health conditions worse, which is why it’s essential to give them enough of what they need to make a full recovery.
Clean their cage
Something else you should do regularly, but especially when your hamster is sick is to clean their cage. A dirty cage can often make sicknesses worse and prolong them indefinitely.
A clean cage and fresh bedding is important to helping you hamster make a full and speedy recovery. And it’s especially important that you clean their cage after they recover so any lingering bacteria doesn’t make them sick again.
When you clean their cage, it’s important to use soap and water to get rid of any leftover bacteria or germs. However, don’t use Clorox wipes because they contain chemicals that can be toxic to hamsters and other small animals.
Also, something that is often forgotten about is your hamster’s water bottle. Ensure that you are cleaning their water bottle thoroughly because your hamster’s mouth is full of germs and bacteria when they get sick and if they put their mouth back on the dirty water bottle, it’s likely that they’ll get sick again.
And there you have it! When you have a sick hamster, there’s a lot that you should know to help them make a full recovery. And since their diet is one of the most important aspects of their health, knowing what to feed a sick hamster goes a long way.
It’s important to feed your hamster bland and easily digestible foods when they’re sick, such as cooked chicken, peas, lettuce, cucumber, and even baby food.
Avoid anything spicy, seasoned, extra sugary like fruits, and stick to foods that will make it easier for your hamster to make a full recovery. And always look out for worrying symptoms, such as weight loss, hair loss, and wet tail.
Hopefully this article has been helpful and your hamster gets back to full health very soon!