Sick Hamsters: Signs and Treatment of Abscesses in Hamsters
Diagnosing Lumps on Hamsters
If your hamster has an abnormal lump anywhere on the body, you should definitely find a veterinarian that is familiar with small animals so that you can have the lump diagnosed. It may be a simple abscess caused by an infection, but it could also be a tumor. Without veterinary assistance, that's something that you won't be able to have diagnosed over the internet.
For the most part, if your hamster has a lump, a veterinarian is your only solution. Even an abscess caused by an infection is pretty important to have treated. If you don't get your hamster treated, the prognosis isn't going to be on the positive side, but with treatment, your hamster should heal within a few weeks.
What Causes an Abscess on a Hamster?
Abscesses can be caused by many different things and most often occur when hamsters are housed in groups. The most common cause is a bite, wound, or scratch that has become infected; this is typically caused by another hamster. Remember that teddy bear hamsters (Syrian hamsters) are best when housed by themselves, whereas most dwarf species can be housed in groups.
Another common cause of an abscess is when sharp objects get stuck or scratch the pouches in your hamster's cheeks. Basically, when the immune system tries to heal the infection, pus will start to develop underneath the skin, which results in a bump surrounded by swelling. So, whether the hamster received a scratch from another hamster, pet, or sharp object, an abscess can develop while the body is trying to heal the wound.
Signs of an Abscess
An abscess is generally pretty easy to spot. It's a bulge or bump on the hamster's body that is not normally there. It may be hard or soft, depending on what type of abscess it is—cancerous or just irritated.
If it looks like your hamster has his cheeks full all the time, it may actually be an abscess which should be looked at, as a cheek abscess can potentially cause stomach issues later on if left untreated. Plus, it's probably a little painful, which can lead to lack of appetite.
You may notice that your hamster isn't eating as much—he may look ill in appearance. He may be more lethargic, and he may not exercise as much. Depending on where the abscess is, the effects may vary. Hamsters with lumps around their legs may have trouble moving, whereas lumps in and around the mouth may cause trouble eating and drinking.
How Are Abscess Treated?
A vet will need to diagnose the abscess to determine if it is cancerous or not. Your vet will more than likely drain the abscess and flush it with a saline solution to clean it out and ensure that all of the infection was removed. Then your hamster will probably be prescribed an antibiotic to prevent further infection.
Get the abscess treated as soon as possible because if it continues to grow it can rupture and can cause an infection.
If your vet determines the lump to be a tumor, they may be able to remove it if it's an external tumor. If it's an internal tumor, it may be too late, as internal tumors are usually diagnosed very late in the game. Removal will depend on whether the vet feels like your hamster will be able to survive the surgery and make a good recovery. In some cases, the lump may be a fatty tumor, which is benign. Your hamster will likely be fine without having surgery unless the tumor starts to hinder eating, drinking, urinating, and defecating, or if the tumor starts to drag, which can potentially become infected.
More About Basic Hamster Care
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.