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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 17945
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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my hamster is 3 yrs old and twitching as he ding I think what

Customer Question

my hamster is 3 yrs old and twitching as he ding I think what should I do
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Shantal-Mod replied 4 years ago.

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Expert:  Shantal-Mod replied 4 years ago.

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Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 4 years ago.
Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help with your concerns about Megs. I am sorry to see that you have been waiting quite a while for a response.

Megs may have heart disease (which unfortunately we see in these little ones as they are very inbred). Unfortunately heart disease is not very treatable in these little ones. Cardiomyopathy is a known defect in hamsters. They often die at a very early age from this so you must have taken great care of her to get her this far. In this disease the heart muscle becomes very weak and doesn't circulate blood through the body and lungs properly. This leads to pulmonary edema, or fluid build up in the lungs, which makes oxygen exchange in the blood cells very difficult. This causes weakness, poor appetite and difficulty getting around due to low oxygen levels.

Other possibilities that can lead to the symptoms that you are seeing are low blood sugar, internal organ disease causing increased metabolic waste products in the blood, or changes in blood electrolyte or mineral balances, which can alter brain function and lead to small seizures or muscle twitches.

It would be better to keep her warm tonight by putting her in a small travel cage (or tupperware with holes punched in the top) and a heating pad set on low under half of the cage.
Give her karo or pancake syrup every half hour to hour until she is able to eat something on her own.
And she can eat whatever she likes. Try pieces of fruit, yogurt treats, whatever is a favorite. You can also try veggie baby food like green beans or carrots and use a medicine dropper to feed her a half teaspoon or so every hour or two.

I do recommend having her checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Make sure your veterinarian is comfortable treating these little ones as they do have specific needs and diseases.

As far as general care to keep your hamster as healthy as possible as long as possible here are some suggestions.
Please don't use wood chips of any type for bedding.
Wood chips of any kind can be a problem. They release aromatic oils and can carry bacterial and fungal spores. I recommend recycled paper pulp bedding as it is hypoallergenic, nontoxic and absorptive.

What should you use to clean the cage? I like very dilute antibacterial hand soap with very hot water, then rinse well in very hot water and dry well. You can also use a 5% bleach solution, but you must rinse very well to remove any odor. The cage should be cleaned completely weekly as hamster urine is very concentrated and can be very irritating to the nasal passages. If your little one uses one area of the cage to eliminate it may help to remove and replace that area of bedding even more frequently.

Ideally she should be eating rodent blocks. These are nutritionally complete whereas with seed mixes they eat what they like, not necessarily what is good for them, making for a weak immune system and poor bone structure (as seeds tend to be high in phosphorus and low in calcium).

Inside her cage give her things to chew on (untreated pine wood blocks and nonscented paper towel and toilet paper rolls are fine) as well as an exercise wheel. If it's squeaky use olive oil to grease the axle.
Small cardboard boxes to play in, chew on and hide in are great too.

Keep her away from drafts, including heating vents and windows/doors.

And make sure that she is in a quiet area so that she can get her rest in during the day.
None of us are very friendly when we are tired.

If she isn't eating normally, you notice changes in her coat or feces, lethargy, or sneezing then it's time to seek a veterinarian who is comfortable treating hamsters. These little ones are prey items so they hide their illnesses well, if she seems sick she is.

Let me know if you have further questions.