A swollen hamster paw usually doesn’t bode well – especially if the little rodent can’t walk properly and is obviously in pain.
Quick help is a blessing here.
In view of this, we will tell you in this article the 10 most common reasons for a swollen paw in your hamster including the appropriate treatment.
Why does my hamster have a swollen paw?
The reasons for swelling of the paws can be very different. From an injury to the claw to tumors, a broken bone or diseases of the heart, many things are possible. A visit to the vet is therefore often unavoidable.
10 causes for swollen paws in hamsters
If your hamster has a swollen paw, several causes can be responsible.
Besides injuries, infections and other diseases are also possible.
The claws serve your hamster as tools for eating and holding food, are used for grooming, climbing and fighting. Not to mention, they are heavily used when creating burrows, digging and digging.
Therefore, it is not uncommon for injuries to the claws to occur.
For the appropriate treatment, it is therefore necessary to first find out the reason. With the following information you can at least narrow down the possible triggers.
Cause 1: Claws
They can split, break off and also bleed because of the life that runs in them.
The so-called “life” is a blood vessel contained in each claw. If this is exposed, it means considerable pain for the hamster. In addition, the bleeding is often surprisingly severe.
However, the open wound that results is responsible for any swelling caused by the injury. This is a gateway for pathogens such as bacteria and fungi.
If these enter the wound, the entire paw can become infected, red and swollen.
The situation is similar with nail fungus or claw fungus.
This mainly occurs when the hamster’s immune system is weakened and the bedding of the cage is often damp.
The affected claw may turn yellowish or brownish and thicken. A distinct redness is usually visible at the junction with the toe.
Another risk for swollen paws originating from the claw is the aforementioned transition to the toe.
If the claws are too long, the toes and paws are forced into an unnatural position. This makes it more likely that your pet will bend over or step.
Swelling is not unlikely from such misalignment and strains.
Because of the many different claw problems that may be the cause of swollen paws in hamsters, a blanket treatment is not possible.
If you are unsure of the exact cause, you should always consult a veterinarian. This is also essential in case of existing infections or visible injuries.
Ideally, you can prevent the latter by taking care of the claws.
Offer your hamster different materials to wipe its claws, run, climb and dig. This will wear down the horn of the claws, exercise the muscles and reduce the risk of injury. If this is not enough, you have to cut the claws.
Cause 2: Injuries to the musculoskeletal system
Bones, joints, ligaments and tendons make up the musculoskeletal system.
If injuries occur to these, swelling, redness and bruising can occur.
Also a clearly noticeable heat development often goes along with it.
Typical for this cause is that your hamster is conspicuously sparing the paw, does not load it at all or limps. Climbing and running are avoided.
If it affects one of the front limbs, eating may also be restricted. The rodent can no longer hold the food properly or stuff it into the cheek pouches as usual. Even the spreading is no longer possible.
Injuries of this type can occur in various ways. Often these are:
Accidents while climbing
Especially bars and unsafe running wheels pose dangers.
Therefore, the best prevention is to choose a hamster home made of wood and plexiglass or glass instead of a hamster cage, and to check both furnishings and toys for safety and suitability.
If an injury has already occurred, a veterinarian must be consulted in any case. This can at least administer painkillers and if necessary carry out an alignment.
Cause 3: Infections
Bites, scratches, lacerations and cuts are possible entry points for inflammation and infection. Even microscopic injuries are sufficient for bacteria, fungi, or viruses to enter and spread throughout the wound and surrounding tissue.
Characteristic, in addition to swelling, are:
If the wound is on the underside of the paw, the entire limb is spared.
If there is significant swelling and even discoloration or discharge, a veterinarian must be consulted urgently. This is because this is an emergency.
The tissue dies and blood poisoning may occur. Even amputation may be necessary if life is in danger.
The risk of injury and inflammation is higher if
Cause 4: Foreign body
An entered thorn or splinter is not only unpleasant, but can also lead to inflammatory reactions and thus swelling.
Therefore, examine the paw as closely as possible.
At best, you can remove the foreign body yourself while a helper holds your hamster. At worst, this may not be possible due to the depth and a vet visit will be required.
Removal is necessary in any case, otherwise the foreign body may “migrate”. This means that it enters the bloodstream or stabs its way through the tissue. Even encapsulation is a possibility.
Surgical intervention is then inevitable but also only possible if the cause is known.
Cause 5: Allergies
Swelling is not uncommon with a contact allergy. If the paws are affected, the only possible triggers are materials that your hamster touches with its paws.
Cleaning products that are used in the cage.
In the case of an allergic reaction, you have no choice but to check all materials and replace them if necessary. This is because the condition can worsen from swelling of the paw to anaphylactic shock.
A visit to the vet is still advised for clarification, so that injuries or infections are not confused with an allergy.
Cause 6: Insect bites and parasites.
The hamster’s fur normally protects it from wasps, bees and mosquitoes.
However, the paws are much less hairy and therefore more susceptible to bites from insects. If you feed fruit frequently in the summer, bees and wasps can be attracted to it and the hamster is not safe even in the cage.
On the other hand, if you ventilate when it’s dark outside and light inside, mosquitoes become a potential problem.
Just like insect bites, parasites can cause swelling. Fleas, mites and hair lice, while rarely present in the hamster cage, can be introduced through bedding, food and exercise materials as well as other pets.
Typically, puncture marks are visible and swelling is accompanied by itching or pain.
Provided there is no longer a stinger in the wound, disinfection is sufficient for insect bites.
In the case of parasites, appropriate treatment must be given with spot-on preparations. Other medications may also be needed to eliminate the infestation.
The best prevention against insects are fly screens on the windows.
Parasites cannot be easily prevented. A visit to the veterinarian is necessary if an infestation occurs.
Cause 7: Heart disease
When the heart stops pumping properly, fluid from the blood can seep through the walls of the blood vessels into the surrounding tissues.
This water retention is also known as edema. Heart problems that are detected early can be treated well with medication.
They are manifested, among other things, by a decrease in activity, faster and more difficult breathing.
Cause 8: Kidneys
If your hamster receives too much protein, the kidneys will suffer.
One of the worst consequences is the so-called renal insufficiency: The kidneys can no longer fulfill their filtering function properly, whereupon fluid accumulates in the body. Here, too, edema forms.
In addition, the excretion of urine is significantly reduced.
If you notice these symptoms, an immediate visit to the vet is necessary. This is because the fluid can not only collect and accumulate in the limbs. It also puts pressure on the organs, causing pain and can limit their ability to function.
Cause 9: Tumor
Tumors can form anywhere in the body when cells degenerate and divide very quickly. The paws are no exception. So what you initially think is a swelling on the paw or a swollen paw may turn out to be a tumor.
Early removal by a veterinarian can prevent life-threatening conditions or the need to amputate a paw or leg.
Unfortunately, prevention or treatment by you is not possible in this case.
Cause 10: Restriction of blood supply
When the blood supply is cut off, swelling and discoloration are the consequences.
The tissue is no longer supplied with sufficient oxygen and nutrients and may die. This produces degradation substances that are dangerous for the entire organism.
Potential triggers for restricting blood supply are toys and other furnishings in the hamster home as well as bars and flaps.
Wherever your pet can get stuck, it can also get stuck and lose a paw or leg. In these cases, the trigger is very easy to identify.
On the other hand, if a string, piece of wire or cloth fiber has wrapped around the leg, it is not always immediately visible. This is because the object may be hidden by fur or by the sitting position.
If the paw is swollen but not discolored, the foreign object should be removed urgently.
In all other cases, a veterinarian or a veterinary clinic must be visited immediately. This is because there is a risk of toxins being flushed into the body when the constriction is opened, causing immediate death.
Amputation is therefore often unavoidable but the only option for salvation.
So prevention is again critical here. Avoid dangerous materials and utensils in the hamster home, refrain from placing cloth, wire or unsafe running wheels.
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