5 common causes of bad breath in hamsters & treatment tips
Have you ever noticed that your hamster stinks from the mouth?
Bad breath is not only unpleasant in humans and should definitely be remedied in your pet. Bad breath is not normal in a hamster. Rather, it is an alarming sign that should make you absolutely alert.
In this article we tell you what causes bad breath in hamsters and what you can do about it.
Attention warning signal: bad breath in hamster is not normal.
Bad breath in hamsters is not normal.
The causes for this are manifold (more about this in a moment) and are often due to diseases. Bad breath should always be an indication for you that a veterinarian should be consulted. The more details you can provide, the easier the diagnosis will be.
Important information is:
Which food is available for the hamster?
How long has the bad breath been present?
Does the odor increase in certain situations?
Have you noticed an increased salivation?
Does your pet eat and drink normally?
Do you check the teeth and mouth regularly?
Is the defecation normal?
From the answers to these questions, it is already possible to conclude which problem is most likely. Nevertheless, an appropriate examination is necessary to initiate the appropriate therapy.
If necessary, even a smear test must be performed to determine the cause.
5 common causes for hamster bad breath
In order to narrow down possible triggers or causes for you and to be able to initiate appropriate (preventive) measures, we show you potential causes for hamster bad breath here.
Cause 1: Stuck cheek pouches
Hamsters can store food in their cheek pouches for extended periods of time. These pockets are extremely flexible and extend to the shoulder blades. They are extremely convenient for searching and gathering food.
However, because of their large, stretchy surface covered with mucous membrane, they represent a vulnerable point of attack for various hazards. Among them is sticky food. If such food is kept in the cheek pouches for too long, it can stick.
Your hamster will then be unable to loosen the food and remove it from the pockets. As a result, it will ferment or decompose and can become a health hazard.
Possible consequences are:
Absorption of food and water is no longer possible
Formation of abscesses
The only remedy is to have the cheek pouches emptied under anesthesia. It is also possible to treat any wounds that may be present and to administer electrolytes and nutrients.
After the procedure, further care and antibiotics are often necessary until your hamster is fully recovered.
Cause 2: Inflammation and dental problems
Inflammation of the gums can occur when your hamster is fed the wrong food or has a weakened immune system.
Due to the pain associated with this, the animal avoids hard foods. This, in turn, can have a negative effect on digestion: Flatulence and diarrhea are possible consequences.
In addition, the continuously growing nail teeth are not ground down, which can lead to dental problems. If these remain unnoticed at first, the teeth become too long. Eating and drinking become difficult and the oral mucosa is pressed or even torn open by the teeth. If the mucous membrane becomes infected, an unpleasant odor may develop.
In addition, the teeth can bend and be pressed into a misalignment. This can cause food debris to accumulate between them, jamming and decaying.
Cause 3: Cheek pocket plugs
So-called cheek pouch plugs are punctiform accumulations of secretion in the corners of the mouth. They are small, raised and bright “lumps”. Due to their special anatomy, they only occur in dwarf hamsters and their hybrids.
They are based on glands that mark the hamstered food with a special secretion. However, if these glands become clogged, the secretion can no longer escape. The resulting pressure is very unpleasant to painful for your animal. In addition, the plugs can interfere with drinking when they reach a certain size and cause the hamster to stop eating.
If this occurs, the glands must be emptied by a veterinarian. If necessary, a short anesthesia is required for this. If inflammation has formed due to the stress on the tissue, treatment with antibiotics may be required afterwards.
Early detection is crucial to avoid complications. However, this is difficult because the cheek pouch plugs are only directly visible during an examination or when your pet hisses.
However, there are other signs associated with a blockage of the glands:
strong bad breath
soft food is preferred
strong salivation, therefore wet mouth and wet chest
the animal does not hamster anymore
If you observe these symptoms in your hamster, a visit to the vet is necessary in any case.
Cause 4: Injuries
Hamsters belong to the rodents and are known to make extensive use of their hamster cheeks. Not only food, but also padding material for the nest is stowed in them.
They also gnaw on everything within their reach.
This poses the risk of your pet ingesting dangerous objects. These include splinters, shards, very sharp hard pieces of twigs or thorns.
If these injure the oral mucosa or the cheek pouches, this does not heal without problems in every case. Pus, abscesses and infections are possible consequences that often cause bad breath.
Cause 5: Digestive disorders
In some cases, the cause of bad breath in hamsters is not in the mouth, cheek pouches or teeth. Instead, the trigger is found in digestion. If this is disturbed, the odor can spread out from the stomach.
Possible reasons for this are:
impaired intestinal flora
allergies or intolerances
Since the food is fermented in the digestive tract, the mouth odor may have a strange sweet note. However, depending on the particular problem, significant differences will show up here.
Therefore, you should watch out for other possible signs:
Loss of appetite
bloated, hard stomach
sticky anus area
problems with defecation
Both diarrhea and constipation are quickly dangerous to your hamster. With diarrhea, nutrients and larger amounts of fluid are lost. If constipation or intestinal blockage occurs, sections of the intestine may die, resulting in a painful and agonizing death if not treated.
Bad breath treatment tips and prevention
Preventing bad breath in hamsters is not always possible.
However, by keeping your hamster in a species-appropriate manner and avoiding potential hazards, you can significantly reduce the risk of bad breath. The following tips will help you.
Tip 1: Offer enough water
If your hamster is sufficiently supplied with liquid, many problems can not arise in the first place.
Secretion and saliva are thin, the mucous membranes are well supplied and even the digestion benefits from it. Fresh water and water-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and greens are ideal for this.
If the hamster does not drink or does not drink enough, you should investigate the cause and may need to consult a veterinarian.
Tip 2: Balanced diet
The normal course of bodily functions and thus overall health depend on the supply of nutrients.
Feed your hamster a balanced and varied diet!
Avoid potentially dangerous foods and anything that is very sticky. Also, remove fresh food if it is not eaten within a short time. Mold, fermentation, and decay on it can weaken the hamster’s immune system, cause digestive problems, and promote infections that cause bad breath.
Tip 3: Regular checks
This is the only way you’ll know if there’s a problem early on.
Keep a close eye on your hamster and, if possible, check the mouth area daily.
Swelling, redness and plaque may be noticed even before the bad breath.
Tip 4: Avoid plastic
With few exceptions, plastic sleeping houses, tubes and toys can splinter when gnawed by hamsters. This poses a significant risk of injury.
Therefore, prefer to use safe and natural materials, such as soft woods, bark, hay, straw and cork.
Tip 5: No fabric in the cage
Special sleeping houses, hammocks and other items made of fabric may be marketed for hamsters, but they are not safe for the animals.
This is because if they gnaw on them and fibers come loose, they can strangulate limbs and require amputation or even lead to death. If they are swallowed, there is a risk of intestinal obstruction.
A final appeal
If bad breath occurs in your hamster despite all precautions, only a visit to the veterinarian will help.
The main part of the treatment can only be done with the appropriate means and the necessary expertise.
You can support the therapy by entering the medication, adjusting the feeding and the attitude.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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