How do I know if my hamster is sick?

The best answer is that you do regular health checks and pay attention to any changes in the behavior of your hamster. So, how do you do that?

The first thing to do is simply observe. Make sure you are checking on your hamster at least once a day and pay attention to any changes from normal behavior. Most of these things you can observe without even picking up your hamster. Some of the things you’ll want to check include:

The second easy way to keep track of your hamster’s health is by doing regular weight checks. Monitoring a hamsters weight is the easiest and fastest way to know if your hamster is sick. A bit of regular fluctuation in weight is normal, but a continuous or sudden loss of weight usually isn’t normal. We usually start to worry if the gain or loss of weight is more than 10% of the hamster’s normal weight. We try to do weight checks once a month for every hamster (and record it in a spread sheet), but we will do them more often for hamsters with known issues. For example, A.J. (the diabetic hamster with no teeth) was weighed daily.

The third thing you will want to do is pick up your hamster and do a physical health check. The most common problems in our experience that will need vet care are diarrhea, teeth problems, eye infections, respiratory illnesses, and accidental injuries. To check for these things you will want to pick up your hamster and start examining it. As you are doing this pay attention to anything unusual you feel, see or smell.

You may want to have a small towel or small piece of fleece on hand to wrap your hamster in if it needs to be restrained for anything, and you will want to have a safe place you can put your hamster down if it gets upset by the check. It can also be helpful to have a second person and some yummy hamster treats on hand! You’ll want to check the hamster’s:

Once you get used to doing all of this you don’t have to go through the checklist every time. You start to notice these things simple by handling your hamster and spending time with it. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss something though. Hamsters are very good at hiding illness and unless you are very used to looking for problems it can be really hard to catch. If you do notice a problem please seek out professional help from your local veterinarian.

Thank you to The Pipsqueakery for sharing your well written article with the OHC.