Diabetes can be fatal for hamsters if the disease is not detected in time and the appropriate treatment is lacking.
As one of the most widespread diseases of civilization, the metabolic disorder also occurs frequently in small pets and must be treated immediately and for life to prevent organ damage.
Here we show you what is important in the diagnosis and how you can best prevent diabetes.
In this article you will learn how you can recognize diabetes in your hamster and how you should react to it. You will also find tips on prevention to protect your pet.
Recognizing and treating diabetes in hamsters
In order to be able to recognize diabetes in hamsters at an early stage and treat it accordingly, you must first be able to interpret the symptoms correctly.
Our guide therefore begins with the signs and ends with the preventive measures. Between this important information we offer you further tips about diabetes in hamsters.
Diabetes in hamsters: symptoms
The most important step in treatment is to recognize the disease early and to be able to take appropriate steps.
But how can you, as a layman, tell that it could be diabetes?
The following signs are a good guide:
Drinking quantity and urge to urinate
Eating inedible things
disturbances of movement and digestion
Changes in the eyes
changes in the coat up to hair loss
Note: Please note that any of these symptoms may also be due to another disease or health problem caused by parasites or a poor diet, as well as stress.
However, in any case, they require immediate examination and treatment by a knowledgeable veterinarian.
Drinking and urination
Does your hamster seem to be thirsty all the time, drinking more and more and passing large amounts of urine?
You find urine traces everywhere in the bedding and in the free run?
If it is a one-time occurrence on one or two days and there is a reason for it, it is harmless.
Very hot weather in summer, high physical activity but also stress can cause your hamster to drink more for a short time.
If this behavior continues for more than two days, you should consult a veterinarian. This is often one of the first symptoms of diabetes.
Eating and weight loss
Hamsters with diabetes may lose their appetite or suddenly eat excessive amounts of food.
In animals with increased energy needs, eating may not only refer to food. Occasionally, they will eat inedibles.
This may include bedding or components of toys.
Even if your hamster eats a lot, it will not gain weight if diabetes is present. On the contrary, weight loss is typical for the disease.
In any case, if your hamster eats poorly or extra, loses weight despite eating the same amount of food, or ingests indigestibles, investigation and treatment are needed.
Weakness and fatigue
Diabetes causes weakness, fatigue and listlessness in humans and hamsters. So your hamster may suddenly stop playing, even though he was previously very active and agile, or be almost apathetic.
If you notice such a change in behavior, it is always a cause for concern and should lead you to the veterinarian.
Disturbance of movement and digestion
As the disease progresses, the signs become more widespread. This includes muscles, nerves and the musculoskeletal system, as well as digestion.
Your hamster may seem uncoordinated in movements or sway when walking.
Bloating, diarrhea or constipation are possible in the digestive area.
This can further contribute to weight loss.
Changes in the eyes
As diabetes progresses, the eyes often become cloudy, giving a milky appearance. Vision becomes impaired.
This does not usually bother hamsters, as they rely more on their sense of smell, touch and hearing anyway.
However, as a sign of diabetes, it is a highly visible symptom.
However, there is a possibility that it is an eye condition or injury. Clarification is necessary in any case.
Change of coat and hair loss
The decreasing supply, the changed metabolism and the limited mobility as well as strength can lead to the fact that the coat changes tangibly and visibly.
It loses luster, appears dull and shaggy. The lack of or reduced grooming can be just as responsible for this as a lack of nutrients and reduced circulation.
The longer the proper treatment is lacking, the more pronounced this sign becomes. Hair loss and the development of bald patches are therefore unfortunately not uncommon.
Dangers of diabetes
If left untreated, diabetes can cause organ damage and lead to death.
Before that, affected animals often go into a coma. This can also happen if your hamster ingests too much sugar.
Diet plays a crucial role for this reason, among others. Before we go into that, let’s first deal with the diagnosis and the next steps.
Diagnosis of diabetes in hamsters
In principle, diabetes can be diagnosed by blood and urine. In hamsters, however, the procedure is more difficult and limited due to their size and low blood volume.
It is possible to detect sugar in the urine. However, the values may be distorted by stress.
Nevertheless, elevated sugar levels in conjunction with the symptoms mentioned above indicate that a hamster is suffering from diabetes.
Treatment of diabetes in hamsters
Unfortunately, treatment options are limited. Larger animals can be treated with insulin, which balances the blood sugar level.
In hamsters and especially dwarf hamsters this is usually not possible. The body weight is too low for the adjustment of the insulin.
In addition, the blood would have to be tested for the exact value before each administration, which is a considerable weakening and hardly feasible in practice.
Hamsters with diabetes are therefore often euthanized. But is this really necessary?
Nutrition with diabetes
A diagnosis of diabetes is often accompanied by a change in diet.
You should avoid sugar and simple starches completely, or at least as much as possible.
no fruit, fresh or dried
no sweetened curd cheese or yogurt
no dried vegetables
no “sweet” vegetables
no ready-made treats with sugar or starch
Refrain from feeds that contain the following ingredients:
Fruit or vegetable chips
Because all of these have a negative effect on blood sugar in the case of diabetes. This must be kept as constant as possible to avoid aggravation.
For this reason, it is also important that your hamster has access to food at all times.
When does a hamster need to be euthanized for diabetes?
Sadly, but true, many veterinarians are quick to recommend euthanization because there is no option for insulin therapy in hamsters.
However, with early detection and both proper nutrition and increased exercise, you can keep your pet’s life as high quality as possible.
Euthanasia may still be necessary if your hamster is struggling, in pain, or declining severely despite all attempts.
If an acute condition has not yet been reached, you can weigh the hamster daily, adjust the type and amount of food, and motivate him to exercise.
If, on the other hand, he is only sleeping, no longer eating food and moving in an uncoordinated manner, putting him to sleep may be a relief.
Causes of diabetes in hamsters
Just as in humans, hamsters can develop diabetes due to a variety of causes.
lack of exercise
other diseases, such as inflammation of the pancreas
side effects of medication
If you know the possible causes, you can better prevent diabetes in your hamster.
However, this is not true in every case. In case of a genetic predisposition, only the risk can be reduced by good husbandry conditions.
There is no guarantee against the disease. However, you can help to prevent diabetes and keep the risk of the disease low.
Preventing diabetes in hamsters
A hamster from a reputable breeder has a lower risk of developing diabetes. This is because the parent animals are specifically selected here and excluded from breeding in the event of diseases.
An animal from a pet shop has a higher risk for hereditary diseases.
In addition, you should offer your hamster a species-appropriate, quiet life. Plenty of exercise, healthy food and little stress will help to maintain good health for a long time.
When feeding, avoid high-sugar foods and treats.
Ready-made rewards and feeds often contain molasses or other additives that can stress the pancreas, causing diabetes.
Therefore, it is better to rely on natural foods and enrich your hamster’s diet with fresh herbs, grasses, water-rich vegetables and dried mealworms.
Fruit should only be offered in very small quantities and as a special treat or variety, even to healthy hamsters that do not have a hereditary predisposition.
If you follow these rules, provide a calm environment, and recognize the warning signs early, you can prevent diabetes in your hamster in many cases.
Diabetes in hamsters
Unfortunately, diabetes is a common disease in hamsters, just as it is in humans and other mammals.
The sooner you can recognize the first signs of it, the better the chances for a largely healthy life despite the disease.
However, there is no guarantee even if you take all precautions. Therefore, sometimes it may be necessary to perform euthanasia as a salvation.
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