Constipation in hamsters: reasons and countermeasures (4 tips for prophylaxis)
Gastrointestinal problems know all of us, without exception – a very unpleasant thing, right?
Unfortunately, even our furry friends are not safe from this kind of problems.
However, there are some factors that can extremely increase the likelihood of your hamster getting constipated.
Since you obviously care a lot about your pet’s health, in this article we will fully inform you about the reasons and countermeasures regarding constipation in hamsters. This way you can minimize the risk of constipation for your pet!
In addition, at the end you will receive four proven tips on how to effectively prevent constipation.
What is constipation in a hamster?
Constipation is the opposite of diarrhea.
Whereas in diarrhea food moves too quickly through the body, in constipation food remains in the intestine too long. As a result, your hamster defecates much less often than usual – if the constipation is severe, so that the hamster cannot defecate at all, it is called an intestinal obstruction.
Intestinal obstruction is life-threatening and should be treated as soon as possible!
But also a constipation is not completely harmless for your hamster. In many cases, constipation leads to abdominal pain, which can be quite a nuisance for your pet.
Furthermore, your furry friend’s intestinal tract is very sensitive and relies on constant food intake. Depending on how severe the constipation is, your hamster will stop eating – which, of course, creates new problems again.
Mild constipation is nothing to worry about and can happen.
If you notice that your hamster is showing symptoms of constipation, but seems fit and energetic and otherwise behaves normally, you can observe it for a while. In many cases, mild constipation will go away on its own.
However, if you notice that your hamster’s condition is getting worse, you should take countermeasures to prevent it from getting worse.
By the way, it’s not just your hamster’s intestines that can become constipated; the cheek pouches can be affected by constipation, too! The cause of cheek pouch blockage is usually due to ingesting food that is too sticky. If the hamster does not eat properly and the cheek pouches swell, you should immediately consult a veterinarian.
In order to be able to act adequately in case of constipation, you must of course know how constipation occurs and how it manifests itself in the hamster. Both points will now be discussed in detail in the following sections.
Causes: How does constipation occur?
In constipation, the stool is too hard and therefore cannot travel through your pet’s intestinal tract at the usual speed. Instead, it remains in the intestines for several hours or even several days and, in extreme cases, gets stuck there – resulting in intestinal obstruction.
The main cause of constipation is due to insufficient fluid intake. The less water your pet has in its body, the harder the stool will be.
Pellets as a cause of constipation
If you feed your hamster pellets or other dry food, the risk of constipation or even intestinal blockage increases dramatically. The big disadvantage of dry food is that it removes so much water from the body that your hamster can hardly or not at all compensate for this water loss on his own.
If you feed your hamster pellets only occasionally, your animal may still be able to compensate for the water loss, but if the pellets are the main food, the whole story becomes more complicated.
In addition, the pellets have another serious disadvantage: Through the contact with water and stomach acid, the pellets swell up in the stomach of your hamster and increase their volume by three to five times. This not only often leads to constipation, but also to stomach overload, where in the worst case the stomach wall can even tear.
So you see that pellets are not a suitable staple food in the long run and can cause constipation as well as other diseases.
Cabbage as a cause
Another cause of constipation may be due to feeding cabbage.
Cabbage has a strong flatulent effect, which can cause your hamster to have abdominal pain and as a result, refuse to eat and show other colic symptoms.
Therefore, feed cabbage leaves very infrequently and only in minimal amounts, or it is best to eliminate cabbage from your hamster’s diet altogether.
Cold and spoiled green food
Constipation can also be caused by too cold or even spoiled green food.
Make sure that the vegetables and fruits you feed are really fresh. It’s best to check the food by smell test and look at each piece individually before feeding it to your hamster – of course you can also do a taste test and snack a little yourself 😉 .
Sometimes, despite taking the utmost care, your hamster still ends up struggling with constipation. In order to end this agony for your hamster as quickly as possible, we will now briefly show you how you can recognize constipation in a hamster and what you can do to help your hamster relieve the constipation.
Symptoms: How does constipation manifest itself in a hamster?
You can recognize a hamster constipation primarily by the fact that he defecates less or not at all.
If your hamster still defecates, it will be noticeably hard during constipation, in this case it is called ‘bone feces’.
Therefore, it is best to check the consistency of the hamster’s feces daily so that you can recognize constipation early and take countermeasures. A hard stool is usually the first symptom of constipation, so the constipation is still in its early stages.
As it progresses, you will notice that not only are the droppings very hard, but they become less and less so.
In addition, your hamster often shows a conspicuous posture, which indicates pain. Typical here is a real ‘pain hump’ as well as squinted eyes and strong pumping breathing.
Your hamster will reduce its activities to a minimum, hardly eats or drinks at all and sits most of the time in one place in the enclosure.
Some animals sleep extra much at this stage, while others can’t close an eye in pain. The chances of intestinal obstruction are now excellent here, so hurry now!
Here’s how best to react when your hamster shows constipation symptoms!
Depending on how severe the constipation is, you can either try to help your hamster yourself or take the animal directly to the vet.
A veterinarian should always be seen if the symptoms have been present for some time and are not getting better or are even getting worse. As soon as your hamster shows symptoms of pain or changes in behavior, a trip to the vet is essential.
In case of mild constipation, it may be sufficient to feed fresh food with a high water content and minimize the amount of ‘dry’ food for a while.
Feeding pear in particular has an excellent effect on your hamster’s digestive tract and can relieve constipation quickly and easily.
Also helpful can be gentle belly massages for mild constipation!
Gently massage your hamster’s belly in a circular motion. If your hamster shows sensitivity to pressure here, you should stop the massage and go to the vet!
4 tips how you can prevent constipation!
- fresh food
Eliminate pellets and other dry foods from your hamster’s diet and go for natural foods like fruits and vegetables. This natural feeding is much healthier for your pet anyway and will have a positive impact on their health and even their overall lifespan.
- belly massages
Abdominal massages can also be done prophylactically if you feel that your hamster’s digestion is not really running smoothly right now.
Exercise is the absolute secret recipe for a healthy gastrointestinal tract.
Exercise boosts digestion, effectively reducing the risk of constipation. In addition, exercise brings many other physical and psychological benefits. Therefore, make sure your hamster can move as much as he wants.
- soak food
If you don’t want to stop feeding pellets altogether, at least make sure you only buy dry food that doesn’t swell up a lot.
It can also be helpful to let the food soak a little before feeding it to your hamster.
Caution; wet food should not be left in the cage for too long, otherwise it can quickly become moldy!
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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