Healthy hamsters are playful little creatures that love to be active and run around their cages. However, if your hamster is sick or too hot, it could become dehydrated and even more ill. Dehydration is a serious, life-threatening health problem, so you need to detect it quickly and treat it as soon as possible.
Part 1 of 3: Diagnosing Dehydration in a Hamster
Step 1. Pinch the hamster's fur
One of the easiest ways to tell if your hamster is dehydrated is to do the skin turgor test. Lightly pinch a portion of the skin at the base of the hamster's neck with your thumb and index finger, so that it pops up like a "tent." Then release the skin.
- If the skin remains raised, the hamster will be dehydrated.
- If the hamster is well hydrated, the skin will flatten again as soon as you stop holding it with your fingers.
Step 2. Look at the hamster's body
If you are dehydrated, you will not look good. For example, your eyes will look tired, sunken, and dry. His coat will also look disheveled and unkempt because he won't groom himself like he used to.
- In general, the hamster's body can appear thinner.
- If your hamster is too dehydrated, his tongue will swell.
Step 3. Observe the hamster's behavior
If your hamster is dehydrated, it will groom less, which will make its coat look disheveled. You will likely move slowly as well, as you won't feel good and just won't have the energy to run around like you did previously. He may even become irritable and look confused in his cage.
- If the hamster is dehydrated, it will also urinate less. The urine you produce will be very concentrated (dark in color) and will have a bad odor.
- These symptoms are not necessarily specific to dehydration, although they are clear signs that the hamster is sick and needs treatment.
Part 2 of 3: Treating Hamster Dehydration
Step 1. Rehydrate the hamster
Dehydration in hamsters is very serious, so do not delay in taking your pet to the vet. However, if you can't do it right away, start rehydrating it at home to help it recover. You should administer fluids by mouth with a syringe, which you can buy at your local pharmacy.
- If diarrhea was the cause of dehydration, it is recommended that you rehydrate by mouth.
- The best type of oral rehydration solution you can give your hamster will be one that contains salts and sugars, such as the Lectade and Pedialyte brands (unflavored). You can find rehydration products at local pharmacies and supermarkets.
- It is not recommended that you give him plain water because it could dilute the already reduced amount of minerals, salts and sugars in the hamster's body.
- If you can't go to the store, you can add a pinch of salt and sugar to the plain water and give it to the hamster. However, it is best to buy an oral rehydration solution that already contains the appropriate mix of salts and sugars.
- Draw up the fluid with a syringe (preferably 10 ml). Wrap the hamster comfortably in a towel using one hand. With the other hand, he places the syringe just inside his mouth on one side and empties its contents drop by drop. Make sure to give the hamster a chance to swallow the fluid each time you give him the drops. Never force the fluid into the hamster's mouth because there is a risk of the fluid entering its lungs, which could be fatal.
Step 2. Take the hamster to the vet
Your vet will be able to give your hamster a more advanced dehydration treatment. In addition to the commercially available products, the vet will also have other fluids (such as 0.9% saline or Ringer's lactic solution) to rehydrate the hamster.
- Your vet will assess the severity of the hamster's dehydration before administering fluids. This procedure will allow the professional to calculate the amount of fluid that should be administered to the hamster so that it rehydrates properly and not excessively.
- Your vet will probably give your hamster fluids by mouth first. If your pet is unable to drink on his own, the vet will inject the fluids under his skin (with a subcutaneous injection) using a sterile needle.
- If an underlying health problem (such as a "wet tail" or diabetes) caused the dehydration, the vet will treat that as well.
Step 3. Feed the hamster fresh produce
Fresh produce with a high water content can also help your hamster if the diarrhea was not "the cause" of the dehydration. You can give it a healthy vegetable like cucumber. Apples also contain a lot of water.
Check with your vet before giving your hamster fresh products to treat dehydration. Introducing fresh produce into your hamster's diet in an unexpected way can lead to diarrhea, which can make his dehydration worse
Part 3 of 3: Preventing Dehydration in a Hamster
Step 1. Keep the hamster's water bottle full
Hamsters often become dehydrated when their owners forget to fill their water bottles. Don't forget about your little hamster! Keep a close eye on your water bottle and refill it with fresh, clean water when needed.
- A constant supply of fresh, clean water is essential to keep you well hydrated.
- Check the ball in your hamster's water bottle to make sure it is working properly. If the ball gets stuck in any way, it could prevent your hamster from sucking the water out of the spout of the bottle.
Step 2. Feed the hamster a balanced diet
Keeping your hamster healthy with a well-balanced diet will go a long way toward preventing dehydration. Components of a healthy hamster diet include commercial hamster mixes, a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and a few sweet treats from time to time.
- Baked chicken and low-fat cottage cheese and plain yogurt are also good options for a hamster's diet. They are high in protein, which is an important nutrient for hamsters.
- The foods with which no You should feed your hamster include onions, tomato leaves and raw potatoes. Other foods to avoid feeding your pet include chocolate, junk food, and watermelon.
- Talk to your vet if you are unsure of the types of foods to feed your hamster.
Step 3. Don't let the hamster overheat
Heat stroke (mild or severe) is another common cause of dehydration in hamsters. Unfortunately, it can easily occur in these animals. Therefore, you must be diligent about keeping your hamster cool, especially in the summer months.
- Keep the cage out of direct sunlight.
- The room in which you keep the cage should be well ventilated.
- If you are traveling with your pet in the car, make sure his cage is not near a sunny window. Check it frequently.
- If he begins to suffer from heat stroke (with symptoms such as drooling, wheezing, or lying on his side), move his cage to a cool room. Then, take him out of his cage and drop cold water on him to cool him down. Pat him dry and let him calmly recover in his cage.
- Start rehydrating your hamster with an oral rehydration solution like Pedialyte (or water, if that's all you have). Take him to a vet as soon as you can for further treatment.
- An underlying disease, such as a "wet tail," can cause your hamster to feel so ill that it does not want to eat or drink water. It is important that the hamster receives treatment for its underlying diseases to treat its dehydration.
- Don't treat hamster dehydration on your own. You will need veterinary care.
- Dehydration can happen very quickly when it is due to diarrhea and other health problems. If you notice that the hamster is dehydrated, take him to the vet immediately.
- Foods that are high in water content, such as watermelon, can give your hamster diarrhea and lead to dehydration. Talk to your vet before giving your hamster any food that is high in water content.
- Heat stroke is a dangerous health problem in hamsters that can lead to severe dehydration. Seek veterinary help immediately if your hamster has heat stroke.