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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 16286
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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Our hamster was fit and active yesterday but now is not moving,

Customer Question

our hamster was fit and active yesterday but now is not moving, was wet around the tail and is struggling to move - what can we do
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.


Does this wetness look like mucus or urine?
Have her stools appeared normal?

When you say she is struggling to move, do you mean she is very weak or is she dragging her legs or lame?

Was she eating and drinking last night?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

wetness looks like urine, she isn't moving - just lying on her side - she was eating, drinking and normally active last night - she was out of her cage for half an hour

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you,

If she was out of her cage, can you tell me if she could have had any falls or trauma?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

no trauma - she was fine when put back in her cage

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you again Andy.

Now I have to say that I am quite concerned about your lass.
As I am sure you can appreciate, hamsters are a prey species. And as prey species do, they often go to great lengths to pretend all is well until they are too poorly to do so. This puts owners at a major disadvantage and means when they do make it clear they are unwell, the situation is already quite advanced.

Now she isn't giving you a lot of clues to what is amiss here. It is quite possible (with her urine signs) that she has had a bladder infection that could have spread to the kidneys or into the bloodstream. As well, we can see wet tail (a bacterial GI disease) often arise quickly and leave them collapsed and with a wet backside.

Now in this situation, supportive care is paramount just now. If she isn't eating (which will lead to her blood sugar dropping and her becoming even more weak), we need to try to get her to do so. If she is very collapsed, you can carefully put a bit of glucose syrup or honey on her gums to give her a sugar boost. Otherwise, you will want to keep hand feeding her her favourite foods at this point. If she isn’t willing to eat, you may have to start syringe feeding this wee one. It is worth speaking to the vet about diets to syringe feed to your hamster. I tend to use Oxbow’s Critical Care feed for anorexic pocket pets. (HERE) or Supreme Recovery diet (HEREl) . These are highly nutritious herbivore feeds that can be easily made into a slurry for syringe feeding. And it is much easier to use then trying to create a balanced critical care diet at home. Though in a pinch, we can use veggie baby food with her pellets crushed into it.

As well, If she isn’t drinking and you are concerned that she might be becoming dehydrated (a real concern for either of our differentials), you can try and encourage her to drink by offering fresh water, as you have. Though a good alternative here would be to use pedialyte or diluted Gatorade (50% diluted with water). These will help replenish electrolytes and get some glucose into her system if she hasn’t been eating. You can also give pedialyte via dropper of syringe. A typical dose for animals is 4.8mls per 100 grams of body weight per day (obviously divided over all day drinking). This is just an average but will give you an idea of how much fluid she should be taking in over the course of a 24 hour period (this will also include the amount of water in the food you are feeding).

Furthermore, hypothermia or low body temperature is a real risk here, therefore we do want to make sure she isn’t getting chilly. To keep her warm, you can cover 3 sides of her cage to remove drafts. As well, you can make a safe warmer for your little one from a clean sock filled 2/3rd full with uncooked white rice. Tie it closed and microwave (approx 1-1.5 min). Make sure to shake it before adding it to the cage, to allow the heat to distribute. Make sure its not too hot (as we don’t want to burn her If it cools, you can re-warm as required). Alternatively, a heating pad under half the cage (so she can move away if she gets too warm) or a heat lamp can be used. Whichever you technique, you use monitor the temperature closely, since we don’t want to overheat her (and we cannot be confident she would move himself if she grew too warm).

Overall, this wee lass is in quite an advanced state and we do need to act quickly. Therefore, we'd want to start the above supportive care now to help get her warm, hydrated, and some glucose/energy into her. If we can do that, we can buy some time to pinpoint the trigger for her signs and address them for her. That said, if we continue to see those wet tail signs, then we will likely need to get her vet to examine her, start her on treatment to address this, +/- administer fluids to help her overcome this and recover.

Finally, just to note since she is so collapsed and in dire straights, if you were keen to have her seen today some veterinary practices in our country have office hours today. As well, I wanted to mention that most veterinary practices here do have contingency plans for emergency care for their patients even when they are not open. Therefore, it is worth ringing the practice. If they are open, you can get her seen today. If they aren't, then they will likely have a message to direct you on how to contact their out of hours service. And if you don't have a vet you can find one local to you, you can check the RCVS Register (HERE) to find your local vets or Vets Now (LINK) who are open all nights/weekends. In any case, if you wanted to get her checked out sooner then there are options to have her seen today too.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.

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