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Old 08-12-2017, 11:04 PM   #1
Newborn Pup
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Unhappy New hairless hamster with URI

Hi folks!

A relative of mine was visited by animal control and told that her menagerie of small animals was illegal. She had to quickly find homes for several hamsters, and I've taken on three. One of these little beauties is a Syrian hairless female. I'm absolutely in love with her but she arrived with some problems.

She makes little wheezing sounds all the time and I think she has a URI. She was previously kept in aspen bedding but I've housed her with kaytee natural paper bedding, paper towels, and some soft little blankets & mats. She's a very sweet little lady, active with her ears up all the time, but I can tell she's got something wrong. Taking her to the vet will happen but it's not an option for several days due to money. In the meantime I want to try to alleviate her symptoms. I've put a heating pad on low under the cage where she sleeps. What can I do to relieve what sounds like sniffling and a bit of coughing?

I'm also worried about her eyes, which seem to be stuck closed. I don't see any discharge but her eyes aren't round and wide open like most hamsters. Can I do something without injuring her to help her to be able to open her eyes?

Yes, everyone, she will go to the vet. But they won't see her without money, which I won't have for a week. I'm asking how to help her feel better in the meantime. She's climbing the cage bars and sitting in her hammock asking for help and it's breaking my heart. I have a little money on hand but not enough for the vet visit.

I do have some baytril 20mg capsules but I have no idea how to mix them to give her a safe dose. But if anyone can help me there, maybe I can get some remedy going before the vet?

I'm an experienced hamster keeper but have never had a hairless one. I know how to administer meds and give basic first aid but for the most part my little ones have always been healthy. That doesn't diminish my desire to help my sick new baby.

Thanks in advance everyone. My little warrior's name is Nymeria and I want to help her get better. Please help if you can!
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Old 08-13-2017, 01:40 AM   #2
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Default Re: New hairless hamster with URI

As an addition to the above post, I haven't seen little Nym drink from her water bottle today, but I offered her some applesauce on a spoon and she gobbled it up. (About a scant teaspoon) I offered her a favorite crunchy treat and she came out again. She did not eat it but put it in her "big crunchy things" stash pile. I read that yogurt might help a sick hamster but I don't have any in the house. Before I gave her extra paper towels for bedding and put the heating pad under the sleeping area, she was constantly ripping the insides out of her cardboard house (which she doesn't sleep in). Now she seems more settled and I hope I can keep her warm enough. I felt like she might be ripping the box looking for more bedding different (softer?) from the kaytee paper. I'm looking online for a plush hamster hut to give her to sleep in. I have a cute one that looks like a teddy bear for another hamster, but it's too small for a Syrian. I know how rare and special a hairless Syrian is and I want to make her happy and healthy. It is obvious that she was not ok where she was before - with an owner who cared but could not give her special, individual attention because she had too many others to care for. So if anyone wants to offer me some advice beyond the health issues, I welcome it. Thanks again.
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Old 08-13-2017, 05:41 AM   #3
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Default Re: New hairless hamster with URI

Hello and well done for offering homes to those three hamsters. That's a very kind hearted thing to do

I don't know much about hairless hamsters, but I believe I remember reading that they are particularly prone to health problems and usually die younger than their furry counterparts. I don't know if this is true, but it's sonething to bear in mind.

If she is wheezing it is likely that she has some sort of respiratory infection. If you can see discharge from her nose and eyes, then she may even have pneumonia. Ideally, you want to get her to a vet ASAP. Is there any way you could borrow money from friends or family? Please understand that I am not trying to pressurise you. What you are doing is highly commendable, and if you have to wait then you have to wait .

You are correct that for a respiratory infection is usually a course of Baytril. However, I really would not recommend giving any Baytril until she has been seen by a vet. It could be that she needs a completely different medication, or none at all, and you do not want to be medicating unnecessarily. It could do more harm than good. A vet will also be able to prescribe the correct dose.

As for the eyes, if there is no discharge then I can't think of how to open them. Perhaps there is some discharge which us not visible slightly dpsticking them together? You could try using a damp cotton bud.

She could be drinking at night when you aren't around, but if you are concerned that she is not, then one option would be to offer a water bowl.

It's great that she ate the apple sauce. The fact she is eating is a positive sign. Other good foods for sick hamsters include baby foods (I believe there is a list of safe ones on here somewhere), wet cat food (I use applaws) and porridge. I have never heard about yoghurt being good, but if you do offer it make sure it's not a sugary one.

Keeping her warm and comfortable is the main thing that you can do for now and it sounds as though you are doing very well at that.

One thing you might want to consider is weighing her daily on a pair of kitchen scales. A sign that they are very sick is rapid weight loss and so weighing every day when they are ill can pick up on this quickly before it is too late as hamsters go downhill fast.

I really hope your little girl gets well soon. Let us know how she does. When she us feeling better, I'd love to see some photos of her as I have never "met" a hairless hamster before. I'd also like to hear more about your other little guys

EDIT: Have you thought about switching her from Kaytee natural onto fitch? Fitch is the softest substrate that I know of, which she will need Bering hairless, and also non dusty which is good if she has a respiratory infection. I am sure Kaytee natural is fine too but I thought I would mention it.

Also, I found this page on hairless hamsters which you might find useful as it describes their care needs:

The Hairless Hamster - Hamster Central WIKI
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Last edited by AprilPearl; 08-13-2017 at 05:48 AM.
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Old 08-13-2017, 05:58 AM   #4
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Default Re: New hairless hamster with URI

Hi, sorry to hear that Nym is unwell.
For her chest it sounds like she has a chest infection which will need an antibiotic treatment and probably an anti-inflammatory medication as well. I think Baytril is normally a 2.5% oral solution for Hamsters and that Tablets/capsules are for dogs and cats.
(If things became ultra desperate you could dissolve the contents of one capsule in 125ml of water and then give 0.4ml orally via syringe twice a day but that is by a rough calculation)
As for Nym's eyes have you tried a little saline solution (dissolve table salt in warm water let it cool to use) and use a cotton bud/Qtip to gently clean her stuck shut eyes and hopefully get them opened again.
For hydration if not drinking again Qtip/cotton bud dipped in water and dripped on her mouth or give her cucumber which has a high fluid content if she eats cucumber she will stay well hydrated.
Hope this helps, can't think of much else.
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Old 08-13-2017, 06:04 AM   #5
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Default Re: New hairless hamster with URI

Don't make a saline solution for the eyes - it will dry them out.
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Old 08-13-2017, 03:16 PM   #6
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Default Re: New hairless hamster with URI

To everyone who has replied so far, thanks!

I read about thyme tea so I'm looking for fresh thyme in stores. I am considering this only for symptom relief, not a permanent solution. I also read in another thread that I could put a dab of Vicks vapo-rub on something near the cage to help her breathe easier. I know not to use too much to overwhelm her senses, and not to let her touch it. She seems to have found the warmest heated spot and has moved her nest to the front of the cage, where she looks very relaxed and comfortable. Even with the very small things I've done, her breathing isn't as noisy and she seems to feel better. She's less active than a well hamster but definitely not lethargic. When she's asleep, I can't hear her breathing. It's only when she's up moving around that she gets sniffly. She was just now rummaging through her food bowl but didn't eat anything. I offered her more applesauce and she ate a little. It's the second time today that I've given it to her and she seems to enjoy it. She's also had some small pieces of banana and last night I gave her a tiny piece of my buttered toast. She likes that and I'm willing to spoil her a bit to get her to eat. I scruffed her neck a bit and the skin fell back into place so I don't think she's dehydrated. The bottom line - she's holding her own and I'm confident that she'll be fine once I can get her to the vet. I'll look for that list of safe baby food and get some for her. I believe she is hungry but not for crunchy things. I'm not going to let her starve. We're moving forward. Thanks again for the advice... I'll take as much as I can get. And I'll keep you posted.
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Old 08-14-2017, 05:03 AM   #7
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Default Re: New hairless hamster with URI

The sooner you can have a vet check her the better. Respiratory problems worsen the longer you leave it.
What's apple sauce?
Maybe give her a piece of sliced apple or cucumber instead of sauce.
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Old 08-14-2017, 09:07 PM   #8
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Default Re: New hairless hamster with URI

Apple sauce is basically pureed apples. Don't they have that in the UK?

She's getting moisture and nutrition from it, and it's what I have in the house. Money won't come for a vet visit for several days to a week, so I have no choice. I stated that multiple times in my first post. It's not a matter of thinking I can do better myself.
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Old 08-14-2017, 11:37 PM   #9
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Default Re: New hairless hamster with URI

Originally Posted by Shadokat View Post
Apple sauce is basically pureed apples. Don't they have that in the UK?
We do but we just call it apple puree!
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Old 08-15-2017, 08:14 AM   #10
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Default Re: New hairless hamster with URI

I would take her right to the vet. You could use something like Blink - lubricating eye drops - for her eyes.

For the possible URI, thyme will do *nothing*. The concentration of thymol is so weak in thyme tea, it's basically like using water. Home remedies have a time and place, but this is one that you don't want to leave.

Can you record the sound of her sneezing?

She may need warmer bedding - fleece scraps may work if she doesn't chew and pouch them.

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