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Old 04-02-2015, 03:13 AM   #1
static
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Default Dwarf hamster fur loss and lethargy

I have a few questions about my Campbell's dwarf hamster. As a bit of a back story, I took him home from the pet store I work at 6 months ago (he was pretty mean and feisty, so no one wanted him). He became much nicer when he was brought home, although he has always been a biter no matter what I try. He was diagnosed with diabetes (surprising, considering we don't feed the hamsters fruit or sugary pellets at work, although I shudder to think about how well they are bred). After changing his diet and experimenting with fenugreek seeds, his glucose and ketones have stayed normal aside from some hiccups along the way. About a week and a half ago I noticed he was not running on his wheel, so I tested his pee and he had trace amounts of ketones (less than 0.5 mmol/L). He had also lost about 3-4 grams. After treating with 50/50 water and plain pedialyte, turkey vegetable baby food mixed with ground up pellets and seeds/grains, his readings have remained normal and his weight is back up for the last 3-4 days at 49g. Despite this he spends most of his time sleeping, mainly coming out to eat and drink. Today I noticed around his rear (about a centimeter above his tail) a decent sized patch of thinned fur. It's not bald, but the fur is noticeably shorter and thinner. I have not noticed excessive scratching, and he is on kaytee paper bedding. He always has a chinchilla volcanic sand bath dish in his cage which he has always used regularly. I'm wondering what can cause these symptoms? He gets a pretty varied, protein supplemented diet, so I would assume it wouldn't be vitamin related. I'm not sure of his exact age, as we don't get birth dates for any animals except the large bird species, but he was a full grown 50 grams when I got him and he had only been at the store for a couple weeks before I took him home. I have been told dwarfs are considered sexually mature around 4 months, does that imply that dwarfs are fully grown at that age? Or can they be fully grown earlier than that? If he could have been as old as 4-6 months already when I bought him, does that mean he could already be experiencing age related baldness?
I'm really at a loss for what to do, I'm booking a vet trip in the morning, but as great as my vet is I don't know how often he experiences hamster baldness in his practice and hope that maybe some of you might have ideas as to what might be happening.
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Old 04-02-2015, 05:45 PM   #2
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Default Re: Dwarf hamster fur loss and lethargy

Any ideas? He really isn't moving around being active the way he was just a couple weeks ago
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Old 04-03-2015, 01:21 AM   #3
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Default Re: Dwarf hamster fur loss and lethargy

Hi static. If you are getting readings for ketones/glucose not being good, then I would suspect diabetes, but a vet could check this for you too just to confirm. I`ve never (knowingly) had a hamster develop diabetes, just old age issues. So I`m not the best person to give advice on the condition. There are better placed members on here who have and are dealing with it so hopefully they will see your post and give some information for you to act on.

Diet can play a role yes, but sometimes the condition can require daily injections and I`m not sure I would want to put a small hamsters through that. daily trips to a vet and never really having stability.

Feed more millet type seeds like Canary seed, fenugreek and find a mix that has no sugars in it. We have a food in the UK called Science Selective heart shaped biscuits, which can be a great help as they are a complete food and can also be softened with water.

Sorry I can`t be more help. Make sure he has plenty of water. How is his drinking? Is he emptying his water bottle very quickly?
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Old 04-03-2015, 01:31 AM   #4
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Default Re: Dwarf hamster fur loss and lethargy

The diabetes has been under control for the most part since its diagnosis. His readings and water consumption are both back to normal. My main concern is that he has some thinning fur on his rump (not bald or irritated looking) and he is not as active, rarely coming out aside from eating and drinking. He still eats plenty and his weight is normal, but his sudden downturn in activity and the hair thinning is very abnormal. I was wondering what this could be cause by potentially. I was also wondering what age dwarf hamsters are considered adult sized, as he was fully grown when I got him, and I've had him for 6 months, which could mean he's already potentially a year old, which maybe would make it age related? Or perhaps its seasonal?
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Old 04-03-2015, 01:57 AM   #5
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Default Re: Dwarf hamster fur loss and lethargy

A hamster is usually fully grown by about 6 months as far as I know so yours could be a year old but I wouldn't expect to see age related problems at a year.
I'm sure there could be various causes for the hair loss & already having diabetes complicates things, I'm really no expert but the first thing that comes to mind with hair loss & lethargy is the possibility of Cushings disease, I really hope that's not the case but only a vet can really tell you.
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Old 04-04-2015, 01:16 AM   #6
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Default Re: Dwarf hamster fur loss and lethargy

I was thinking Cushing's disease to. Only a vet can verify it.
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Old 04-04-2015, 01:21 AM   #7
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Default Re: Dwarf hamster fur loss and lethargy

So many internal things in hamsters can cause hair loss and I would say this is a lesser worry. It`s usually cosmetic to the hamster unless the skin is very dry or flaky. Hormones can also be a factor and other conditions. Old age too can cause the hair to thin. x
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Old 04-04-2015, 01:46 PM   #8
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Default Re: Dwarf hamster fur loss and lethargy

Thank you for your input, I just got him back from the vet today. The vet did a skin scraping and no mites or demodex was found. I have been given directions to collect as much urine as possible Monday morning and drive the sample out to the vet. He will test for cortisol levels, glucose, ketones, and a few other possibilities. If abnormal cortisol levels show up, we'll do blood work to confirm cushings. If not and things keep progressing we'll probably try blood work and an xray to test for lymphoma or other such conditions. The urine test is mainly just to eliminate the need for an extra blood test just for cortisol levels if its not cushings (since he's so tiny the vet said they might need to take multiple samples over several weeks if they don't find anything in the first test or two ).

Have any of you guys ever heard of diabetes resulting in skin irritation or hair loss? His levels are all normal, as well as water consumption, so I'm not too sure if this is diabetes related (aside from a compromised immune system), but I figure it's worth asking as well. Also, is it possible this is all just moulting even? The main concern I have is that he sleeps more, but whenever I take him out or see him go out to get food he seems very alert and just as active as always. Is it normal for them to be cranky or itchy if they are moulting, resulting in sleeping more?
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Old 04-04-2015, 11:40 PM   #9
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Default Re: Dwarf hamster fur loss and lethargy

As far as I know hamsters don't moult, I've never heard of it anyway.
Sorry I don't have any experience of a ham with diabetes so you probably know more than I do about the other related symptoms it might cause. It can cause skin problems in humans so it may be the same with hams but I really don't know.
It sounds as though it's going to be a bit of a long haul getting the tests done but I really hope the vet can come up with a diagnosis & some treatment if necessary.
Keep us posted.
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Old 04-05-2015, 12:48 AM   #10
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Default Re: Dwarf hamster fur loss and lethargy

Seems a lot to be putting him though but looking for a cause it`s the only way. I`m not sure though I would want to be doing bloods and x-rays for diagnostics if the hamster seemed otherwise okay? Hair loss doesn`t make them ill, it`s a symptom of age or could be related to something minor. It`s good that no mites or skin issues showed up. Skin scrapings can make the skin bleed sometimes so I hope he was okay during this.

I would be concerned if my hamster was drinking more and seemed attached to the water bottle, but if drinking, eating, activity were much the same, even if they sleep more, this in itself isn`t necessarily cause for concern. x
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