Your hamster has a bloated belly?
Then you should lose no time and immediately go in search of the causes, because some reasons can seriously endanger the health of your small rodent.
In this post, we’ll show you 8 common triggers and proven countermeasures.
What are the causes of a bloated belly in a hamster?
There are many reasons for a bloated belly in your hamster. Among them are feeding errors, pregnancy or heart disease.
Without a veterinary examination, it is often impossible to determine the exact trigger.
8 causes for a bloated hamster belly
With a distended abdomen, it is impossible to tell if it is congested gas, accumulated fluid or a tumor without a veterinary exam.
If you are unsure of the cause, see a veterinarian immediately.
This is generally advised, as a hard abdomen and a back that is noticeably arched in pain are especially indicative of serious and urgent illnesses or problems.
In general, early diagnosis and treatment can greatly increase your hamster’s chances of recovery.
Cause 1: Flatulence
When a hamster digests food, gases are produced in the process.
This is quite normal and no reason for concern. While the animal may not burp, the gases can pass into the bloodstream and be excreted through the air it breathes.
In addition, hamsters may fart to get rid of excess air in their stomachs.
The situation is different if there is a problem in the digestive tract or the feeding is unsuitable. Highly flatulent feeds, for example, can temporarily cause an increased abdominal girth.
Other possible causes include an overgrowth of bacteria in the intestines, constipation or intestinal obstruction.
Since hamsters often fart when defecating, the gases can no longer be excreted or can only be excreted to a very small extent due to the blockage. The results are pain and a hard abdomen.
Your pet may stop eating and drinking as a result, which can make the condition worse. Therefore, consult a veterinarian immediately. This is because the combination of a fat belly and lack of defecation always indicates a potentially life-threatening condition.
Cause 2: Internal bleeding
After a fall or similar injury, your hamster may suffer from internal bleeding without realizing it. The blood accumulates in the abdominal cavity and causes the abdominal wall to harden.
A definite diagnosis can only be made by puncturing the abdomen.
Even then, however, it is unfortunately not certain exactly where the injury is located. In addition, only surgical intervention can help if the bleeding does not stop on its own. This is extremely difficult in small and light animals.
Cause 3: Heart failure
What is thought to be a distended abdomen may also be an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen. A preceding hemorrhage is not necessary for this.
When the heart’s output is insufficient to pump blood around the body, fluid from the blood can leak through the walls of the blood vessels and build up in the tissues. This is therefore a water belly.
In advanced cases, the built-up pressure in the abdomen causes restriction of other organs. This includes the lungs. The hamster becomes short of breath, breathing is accelerated and labored. This can also be due to the fact that there is water in the lungs.
The consequences of heart failure can be treated with appropriate medication: Diuretics help to eliminate water retention in the body.
In acute cases, a puncture of the abdomen can also provide relief, as the amount of fluid is reduced in a short time. Here, a thin needle is inserted into the abdomen and the fluid is aspirated.
In addition, the veterinarian can give cardiac medication to improve function.
You can also contribute to the therapy by avoiding stress for your hamster, giving him opportunities to build up stamina and adjusting the feeding accordingly.
Cause 4: Kidney failure
Just as with weakness of the heart, declining kidney function can lead to accumulations of fluid in the body.
The excretory organs no longer manage to remove water at a sufficient rate. In addition to the formation of a water belly, swelling of the paws is also possible.
Loss of appetite and significant weight loss may occur, as well as dull coat and apathy.
Unfortunately, many diseases and dysfunctions of the kidneys are not curable. However, they can be treated with medication to improve well-being and prolong life.
In addition, feeding can be adjusted so that it puts less stress on the kidneys.
Cause 5: Tumors
Tumors can create a fat belly in two ways. First, the mass itself can become so large that the abdomen bulges outward. Secondly, the tumor can form fluid or release it into the abdominal cavity.
Again, only a diagnosis by the veterinarian will help to get to the bottom of the cause.
The suspicion can be confirmed by palpation and, if necessary, the removal of fluid.
Therapy is often only possible by surgically removing the tumor.
However, due to the anesthesia and the size of the surgery, such procedures are not usually performed on hamsters. Therefore, the only thing left to do is to make sure that the animal is free of pain and that the quality of life is not reduced.
Unfortunately, in advanced stages this is often no longer feasible.
Cause 6: Cysts
Cysts in the liver or gallbladder can affect digestion and cause obstruction of the ducts.
This can cause fluid to accumulate.
The fluid-filled cyst also puts pressure on the organ in question. This causes pain and functional restrictions. Inflammation can also occur and further impair health.
In females, ovarian cysts also occur, altering hormone balance and producing symptoms similar to those of Cushing’s syndrome.
Unfortunately, if cysts are suspected, there is not much that can be done by you or the veterinarian.
Surgical removal or placement of a stent as in humans and other large mammals is out of the question.
If pain is present, it can be relieved, at least initially. If fluid keeps accumulating in the abdomen, if the abdomen appears bloated and if both activity and appetite are reduced, however, the quality of life suffers considerably.
Cause 7: Cushing’s syndrome
Cushing’s syndrome is rare, but can also occur in hamsters.
It is caused by internal or external factors and manifests itself in various symptoms. Since the cortisol levels in the blood are significantly elevated, an effect on several areas of the body takes place. The abdominal girth increases significantly. The abdomen may appear bulging and the skin is taut.
Likewise, the abdomen may be flabby and soft.
The limbs, on the other hand, lose mass and become very thin.
We are talking here about the so-called “truncal obesity”.
It is also noticeable that the blood circulation to the extremities deteriorates. Paws, tail and ears feel therefore clearly colder and can appear darker, since they are supplied worse with oxygen and nutrients.
In addition, the coat and skin may change. The coat and skin become thinner, and the skin may darken and shed.
It is also noticeable that both thirst and appetite are increased. Your hamster never seems to be full and drinks significantly more. As a result, he may also appear bloated.
Medications for Cushing’s Syndrome in hamsters are unfortunately not yet found. Even the exact diagnosis is hardly possible, because this requires several blood tests and the small rodents do not have enough blood.
Cause 8: Pregnancy
If it is a sexually mature female, another cause comes into question: pregnancy.
Hamsters are often pregnant unnoticed, so that owners can experience a real child surprise. This is primarily the case if the animal has just been purchased and may have been separated from male siblings too late or if a mistake has been made in separating the sexes.
A significant increase in abdominal girth is usually noticed only a few days before birth.
It is noticeable that the animal becomes calmer, but also shows a larger appetite.
In addition, soft nesting material is readily accepted in large quantities in preparation for the birth. With a little patience and luck you can see or feel movements in the belly of the mother animal shortly before birth. This is because unborn hamster babies not only move their legs, but may also hiccup, for example.
Of course, there is no treatment for advanced pregnancy. But you can help the expectant hamster mother to get through this strenuous phase well.
To do this, slightly increase the protein content of the food. This macronutrient is needed during pregnancy for the development of the young and during suckling for milk production.
Also provide sufficient padding material for the nest and clean the cage again before the birth – but leave out the nest.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
I take great pride in being the best possible author and giving you the knowledge that i have on all different types of animals!
I have spent a lifetime learning about pets and animals, and have worked in the pet and vet industry for over 20 years now!
The website will draw have authors who are vets, pet owners, and local pet breeders. All who will contribute their fantastic knowledge which in turn will be able to help you i hope.
There is a lot of information on the internet so it may be hard to know where exactly is the best place to start learning. But we will write articles that get straight to the point, and give you all the information that you need with no fluff!
If you have any questions please leave a comment on the article, and i will reply to you!