Partial or complete hair loss can occur in hamsters for several reasons, and although hair loss can occur anywhere on their body, it's commonly noticed first on the hindquarters and face. Hair loss should never be ignored, as it can be a symptom of a serious underlying health condition. Here's an overview of the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for hamsters with hair loss:
Causes And Symptoms
Common causes of hair loss in hamsters include rubbing on cage feeders and hair chewing by other hamsters in the same cage, which can become a problem when the cage is overcrowded or when males are kept together. Ticks and mites can also cause hair loss, as the hamster will scratch themselves excessively or rub their body against the sides of the cage aggressively. Other causes include vitamin deficiencies, a thyroid imbalance and lymphoma.
Symptoms aside from hair loss tend to vary depending on the cause. Your hamster may also have red skin due to inflammation, a dull coat or trouble urinating. You may also notice your hamster withdraws from social contact and loses their appetite.
Diagnosis And Treatment
Diagnosis focuses on establishing the cause of the hair loss, so your vet will examine your hamster and ask about its living environment and health history. A skin scraping will be taken to check for the presence of mites or a bacterial infection, and a blood sample may be taken to check hormone levels, liver and kidney function, nutritional status and inflammatory markers.
Once the cause of the hair loss has been established, your vet will outline a treatment plan, which may include topical anti-parasitic shampoo, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories or hormone replacement therapy. You may be given dietary advice for your hamster or prescription vitamins to address deficiencies. Additionally, your vet may suggest that you make changes to your hamster's living environment to keep them safe and healthy. If ticks or mites were found on your hamster, you will need to disinfect their living environment, including their toys, and treat any other hamsters they share a cage with. Your vet will likely want to arrange a follow-up appointment to check that your hamster's coat is recovering and that the treatment has resolved the underlying issue, and this may involve repeating diagnostic tests that were done previously.
If your hamster is experiencing hair loss, don't assume you know what's causing it. Have them examined by your vet as soon as possible to prevent any unnecessary discomfort. Contact a vet that provides small animal services to learn more.