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Ask Dr. B. Your Own Question
Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22616
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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I have just noticed that my daughters Syrian hamster has

Customer Question

hi I have just noticed that my daughters Syrian hamster has lost his hair around his face we have had him since he was 8 weeks old and he's now 26 months I have noticed over the pass couple of weeks he been burrowing a lot so I have cleaned and disinfected his cage and put sawdust small amount on the floor of his home and soft bedding for him to sleep I think its alopecia can this be treated and will he be ok
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you today. I do apologize that your question was not answered before. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online, read about your wee one’s situation, and wanted to help.Again I do apologize that my colleagues could not aid you sooner, but can you tell me: Are you seeing any skin changes on his face (ie peeling, crusts, sores, scabs, pimples or pustules)?Does he groom, rub, or itch his face more?Has there been any bedding changes or food changes recently?Any weight loss, breathing or drinking changes?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi his little face does look dry it's hard to say about grooming as he sleeps a lot in the day and naturally wide awake later he has always cleaned himself well n bedding is the same same as his food
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No drinking or eating changes he still having his treats and he drinks well I put daily bitimins in his water that he enjoys
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you,Now as I sure you can appreciate, we can see hair loss for a range of reasons in this species. These can be itchy reasons where they rub off the fur as they overgroom or we can see issues that cause the hair to fall out or fail to grow. Since we cannot be sure if this is irritating him, we’d be most concerned about bacterial infection, fungal infections, parasites, nutritional issues, allergies, and even hormonal disease and organ failure. Now with all that in mind, I am glad to see that you did clean the cage for him. Though I would suggest using a paper based litter to rule out allergies if you are not already. Next, you want to review your diet that you are feeding. The reason is because we can actually see hair/skin issues in hamsters who have a protein deficiency (<16% of the diet). As well, protein deficiency is also known to cause changes to the skin quality (drying/scaling as you are seeing). As well, we can see diet causing skin issues if they are being overfed grains and cereals (ie corn). This is easily remedied by offering more fruits and vegetables in the diet or by feeding half the dry grain/seed mix with boiled rice or puffed rice cereal. And even if you do check and confirm your diet is balanced, do try and monitor what he actually chooses to eat from it since we can see selective grazing (due to preference for the unhealthy bits or dental disease) thwart even the best quality diets.If his diet and what he chooses to eat is fine, then we can put that lower on our list of concerns and turn to the very common infectious agents. Now in this category there are a range to consider. We have super pruritic mange inducing mites that can make hamsters rip themselves raw. We see Cheyletiella. (aka &lsquo;walking dandruff'’) cause itching and dander. Furthermore, we can also see mites called demodex that these animals are born with but then cause disease when the hamster is suffering from an underlying issue that are weakening the immune system. In all cases, to diagnose each mite’s presence, a vet can check a sample of scale/crust/scraping under the microscope. If present or suspected, these mites tend to respond to treatment with injectable or topical mite medication (ie ivermectin based, Xeno, etc). And if there i any doubt with this, you can consider treating with an OTC ivermectin based spot on to ensure this isn't parasite related.Finally, systemic disease (metabolic, cancerous, organ based) can also cause manifestations of skin disease. In these cases, we often will have other hints (ie appetite decline, weight loss, etc) but not always. And typically if we cannot rule out the above, then we have to consider these agents. Often a good physical exam by a hamster savvy vet +/- a check of bloods or urine can tell us if any of these are an issue and the underlying cause for his skin disease.Overall, when we see signs of this nature in a hamster, we do have a few concerns. Therefore, we’d want to take this situation in a step-by-step fashion. First, try a paper bedding, review the diet you are feeding and what he is actually eating (Try to make sure he is getting >16% protein ad possibly up his fruit/veggies). Then you want to cover him with an anti-parasitic spot on (with ivermectin like Xeno) or a Pyrethrin based powder to help you treat and rule out mites/etc. If he isn't settling from there, then we need to consider those other concerns and may need his local vet involved to uncover the definitive cause for his skin issues and address this for him. If you don’t already have an vet and wish to find one near you, by checking here the RCVS Register (,, or Alternatively, a lot of the vet schools will either have a specialist exotics vet on site or will have ties to one that they can refer you to. Please take care,Dr. B. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------If you have any other questions, please ask me &ndash; I’ll be happy to respond. **Afterwards, I would be grateful if you would rate my service by clicking on the "Rate my Expert' button at the top of the page as this is the only way I am credited for helping you. Thank you for your feedback!:
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
How is everything going for your wee one?Dr. B.