When it comes to health issues, hamsters are relatively low-maintenance pets, but that doesn't mean they aren't susceptible to certain issues. Abscesses are one issue that hamster owners may have to deal with. These infections develop in wounds from small accidents or fights with other hamsters, and if left untreated, they can be fatal. Knowing how to identify abscesses and offer first aid to your hamster will help you keep him healthy.
What Are Abscesses?
Abscesses are infected pockets that develop at the site of an injury. They're usually packed with pus, a fluid made up of white blood cells, blood, and germs. These pockets enlarge and harden into lumps that are soft to the touch. Abscesses are most commonly found beneath the skin of hamsters, although they can also develop inside, on organs, in a cheek pouch, or in the mouth.
Symptoms of Abscesses in Hamsters
A lump or swelling is usually the most obvious indication of an abscess, but other signs of infection may accompany the swelling, such as:
Food in the cheek pouches can resemble an abscess, however an abscess does not shrink in size when the food inside it is removed or digested, but a cheek pouch does.
Pus and blood may be noticed on the fur in the surrounding region if an abscess ruptures. Due to the germs present, it may also have an extremely terrible odor. Although hamsters are normally meticulous cleaners, the amount of infected fluid produced by an abscess may be difficult to clean up or impossible to reach if it is on the hamster's neck or head.
Finally, if an abscess causes systemic infection in a hamster, lethargy and a decrease in appetite are likely to occur.
Causes of Abscesses
When germs induce infection at the site of an injury, pet hamsters develop abscesses. The following are common hamster injuries:
- Bite wounds from other hamsters
- Bite wounds from a cat
- Scrapes or punctures from sharp objects in a hamster's cage
Diagnosing Abscesses in Hamsters
To tell the difference between an abscess and a tumor, find out what's within the lump. If your veterinarian feels a bump, he or she may suspect an abscess. The initial approach could be to use a scalpel blade to delicately lance the lump. If pus oozes from the wound, it is clear that it is not a tumor. However, the contents must be examined in order to provide a clear diagnosis.
A sample of the abscess may be withdrawn with a syringe and observed under a microscope for bacteria so that a targeted antibiotic treatment plan can be established.
The abscess of a hamster must first be drained. This may have previously been done as part of the diagnosis process by your veterinarian. A saline solution or other antibacterial agents will be used to flush the abscess. You will be given antibiotics to administer at home.
Prognosis for Hamsters with Abscesses
Abscesses heal swiftly when found and treated quickly, and hamsters regain their health. The prognosis is dismal if the infection has spread or entered the hamster's circulation. Antibiotics may be ineffective, and the hamster may die.
How to Prevent Abscesses in Hamsters
A bite wound is one of the most common causes of a hamster abscess. To prevent fighting, house your hamster alone. Most hamster species are best kept as single rather than multiple pets anyway.
Another thing you can do to assist avoid abscesses is make sure its cage doesn't have any rough edges. Sharp points on the corners and entrances of wire cages are possible. Ladders, wheels, and other cage toys can potentially cause problems. To keep your hamster safe, check these items on a regular basis.