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Old 03-04-2019, 03:23 PM   #1
WillowHamHam
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Exclamation Female Syrian is losing her fur !

About a week and a half ago, I noticed that my 1 1/2 year old Syrian Willowís fur on her face had begun to thin out a bit as the skin underneath was quite a bit more visible. As she is getting on a bit I put it down to old age so I wasnít too concerned and decided just to keep an eye on it. Yesterday evening I noticed that the fur loss has begun on her stomach, neck, and behind her ears. The skin look similar to a sphinx cat and it was also a little bit more pink than usual. I booked her into the vets this afternoon and they gave her a good look over.

The vet decided that it was probably not entirely age related, and instead thought it may be one of a few things:

-She suggested that she may have caught ringworm from my guinea pigs, but soon decided that probably wasnít the case as neither of my piggies have ringworm

-Then she suggested that it could be caused by her bedding. Willow has always been on Carefresh natural, ever since I got her so initially I didnít think this would be the issue. However, she thinks that it is potentially a bad batch and that she has caught some sort of parasite from it, as I cleaned her cage out and used some of a new bag a couple of days ago. She got a second opinion from the senior vet and he agreed with her so she treated Willow with one pipette of Xeno. We are hoping this should clear it up, maybe with a couple more applications of Xeno.

If anyone else has any idea what this may have been caused by, that would be greatly appreciated. The only change I have made to the materials in her cage is her sand, which I Iíve changed from Tiny Friends Farm to washed childrenís play sand, as I heard that the other one has been causing issues recently for other peopleís hamsters. Her main bedding is exactly the same, with just a bit more of the new bag of bedding. The only behavioural difference that Iíve noticed is she seems to be drinking quite a lot more, but this has been going on for a couple of weeks so Iím not sure if itís connected or if it even matters at all.

I will try and get some good pictures of her later on, but I donít have any at the moment as she is still quite fast!

Sorry for the super long post! I just wanted to warn other people who use Carefresh and see if anyone had any other ideas of what might have caused this. Thank you in advance, Willow and Poppy

Last edited by souffle; 03-05-2019 at 12:26 AM.
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Old 03-05-2019, 05:22 AM   #2
cypher
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Default Re: Female Syrian is losing her fur !

Very sorry to hear Willow is unwell.
Did you vet consider Cushing's disease? The hair loss doesn't normally begin around the face with Cushing's but with a combination of hair loss & increased thirst it may still be something to consider.
It doesn't sound as though anything in the cage is likely to be causing a problem, Carefresh can be dusty & some hams don't do well on it but if she's always been on it I wouldn't expect it to be that.
They can develop a problem with mites for various reasons but your vet would need to do a skin scrape to be sure about that.
Do you have any photos? That might give a clearer idea of what's going on.
There's some information on Cushing's here.
Cushings and Treatment
Cushings Disease in Syrian Hamsters - Hamster Central WIKI
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Old 03-05-2019, 05:59 AM   #3
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Default

I think the Vet would have mentioned Cushings if it had been likely. And it does tend to be large patches on the flanks. Also accompanied by skin issues and swollen belly sometimes - plus back leg weakness. So if it is just fur round the face I wouldn't worry about Cushings.

Is your vet an exotic vet? So the only real changes have been new substrate after a cage clean, and different sand. It could well be the change in sand as it is all her head area, and they tend to wash their faces and behind their ears with their paws quite a bit. How are her paws?

I think you'll need to go with process of elimination. If you've been using the Tiny Friends sand without issue then switch back to it. There is nothing wrong with it. It does look different/changed, but our robo was fine with it - our Syrian was slightly disgusted with it but it hasn't caused any harm.

Maybe try that first - it would be a bit stressful to change all the substrate again so soon. So maybe go back to the previous sand, and then if it hasn't improved in a week's time, change the substrate. Have you tried Fitch? It works out cheaper than Carefresh and is hypoallergenic - it's just recycled food grade paper. I get the 10kg bale which costs £22 (just gone up in price). It's not that massive to store and lasts for ages.

It is possible she could have developed an allergy to Carefresh even if she's used it for some time.

The increased drinking is something that happens with older age generally as their kidneys stop working as well. It is also a symptom of Cushings - but without the other symptoms I would think this is just normal ageing.

Our Syrian went like this around the face last summer - and it was just a moult in the hot weather so it could be all kinds of things.

This is the Fitch - if you're going to change all the substrate again in about a week it might be worth switching to this. It is sold in smaller bags but they're not big enough and it works out quite a bit more expensive that way as you'd need 3 or 4 bags!

https://www.fitchfirst.co.uk/fitch-p...-delivery.html

So process of elimination. Go back to the old sand, then change the substrate, then see how she is. If no improvement then back to the vet - and if your current vet isn't an exotic vet, maybe see if you can find one in your area for a more specialised opinion.

Did the vet do a skin scraping for mites? Because that is also a possibility. Mites naturally live on them as normal, and if their immune system becomes lowered, they can then have an outbreak of mites. They shouldn't really treat for mites without doing a skin scraping and looking under a microscope to check and give a clear diagnosis. If it was mites though it's likely she would be scratching a lot and making her skin sore with the scratching.
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Last edited by souffle; 03-05-2019 at 07:30 AM.
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Old 03-05-2019, 11:05 AM   #4
WillowHamHam
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Default Re: Female Syrian is losing her fur !

Quote:
Originally Posted by cypher View Post
Very sorry to hear Willow is unwell.
Did you vet consider Cushing's disease? The hair loss doesn't normally begin around the face with Cushing's but with a combination of hair loss & increased thirst it may still be something to consider.
It doesn't sound as though anything in the cage is likely to be causing a problem, Carefresh can be dusty & some hams don't do well on it but if she's always been on it I wouldn't expect it to be that.
They can develop a problem with mites for various reasons but your vet would need to do a skin scrape to be sure about that.
Do you have any photos? That might give a clearer idea of what's going on.
There's some information on Cushing's here.
Cushings and Treatment
Cushings Disease in Syrian Hamsters - Hamster Central WIKI
I can only get clear pictures of her neck, she moves too fast for me to get any good pictures of her tummy! I am hoping that it isn'y Cushings, although I know it may be a possibility, as I saw her scratching quite a lot at her right ear earlier which isn't supposed to coincide with symptoms of Cushings. If you have any other ideas please let me know

Also, quick question! Do you have any idea how long the Xeno should take to show any improvement? The vet didn't mention and I completely forgot to ask. Its not a problem if you don't, I am back in for work experience tomorrow so I should be able to ask then . Thank you
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Old 03-05-2019, 11:13 AM   #5
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Female Syrian is losing her fur !

Yes I can see fur loss and wrinkly skin Charlie looked a bit like that when he was very old. But she is only 1 1/2. Do you know that is correct - her age?
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Old 03-05-2019, 11:16 AM   #6
WillowHamHam
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Default Re: Female Syrian is losing her fur !

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipity7000 View Post
I think the Vet would have mentioned Cushings if it had been likely. And it does tend to be large patches on the flanks. Also accompanied by skin issues and swollen belly sometimes - plus back leg weakness. So if it is just fur round the face I wouldn't worry about Cushings.

Is your vet an exotic vet? So the only real changes have been new substrate after a cage clean, and different sand. It could well be the change in sand as it is all her head area, and they tend to wash their faces and behind their ears with their paws quite a bit. How are her paws?

I think you'll need to go with process of elimination. If you've been using the Tiny Friends sand without issue then switch back to it. There is nothing wrong with it. It does look different/changed, but our robo was fine with it - our Syrian was slightly disgusted with it but it hasn't caused any harm.

Maybe try that first - it would be a bit stressful to change all the substrate again so soon. So maybe go back to the previous sand, and then if it hasn't improved in a week's time, change the substrate. Have you tried Fitch? It works out cheaper than Carefresh and is hypoallergenic - it's just recycled food grade paper. I get the 10kg bale which costs £22 (just gone up in price). It's not that massive to store and lasts for ages.

It is possible she could have developed an allergy to Carefresh even if she's used it for some time.

The increased drinking is something that happens with older age generally as their kidneys stop working as well. It is also a symptom of Cushings - but without the other symptoms I would think this is just normal ageing.

Our Syrian went like this around the face last summer - and it was just a moult in the hot weather so it could be all kinds of things.

This is the Fitch - if you're going to change all the substrate again in about a week it might be worth switching to this. It is sold in smaller bags but they're not big enough and it works out quite a bit more expensive that way as you'd need 3 or 4 bags!

https://www.fitchfirst.co.uk/fitch-p...-delivery.html

So process of elimination. Go back to the old sand, then change the substrate, then see how she is. If no improvement then back to the vet - and if your current vet isn't an exotic vet, maybe see if you can find one in your area for a more specialised opinion.

Did the vet do a skin scraping for mites? Because that is also a possibility. Mites naturally live on them as normal, and if their immune system becomes lowered, they can then have an outbreak of mites. They shouldn't really treat for mites without doing a skin scraping and looking under a microscope to check and give a clear diagnosis. If it was mites though it's likely she would be scratching a lot and making her skin sore with the scratching.

Thank you for responding. I have already cleaned her out and disinfected everything that I could as the vet said that is the first thing I should try. I have also not put any sand in as I wasn't sure if the vet said to or not. Her paws seem ok, nothing out of the ordinary that I could notice. However, I did see her scratching at her right ear for a couple of minutes earlier, which I hadn't seen her do before, but the skin doesn't look particularly sore. The vet didn't do any sort of skin scrape or test, just gave her a look over and decided to go with the Xeno. MY current vets practice are not exotic vets, however I trust their opinions entirely and do not currently feel the need to take her to an exotic vets (I'm not even sure if there are any nearby that would have a good knowledge of hamsters). Of course I will look into taking her to an exotic vet if the problem persists but at the moment I think that I would prefer to stick with what I know

I have used Fitch before, when you could buy it in big 20kg bags as it worked out significantly cheaper than carefresh, but I haven't bothered since then as I was finding it difficult to source (although I have noticed recently that it has appeared on Amazon).
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Old 03-05-2019, 11:19 AM   #7
WillowHamHam
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Default Re: Female Syrian is losing her fur !

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipity7000 View Post
Yes I can see fur loss and wrinkly skin Charlie looked a bit like that when he was very old. But she is only 1 1/2. Do you know that is correct - her age?
No, it's only an estimate ufortunately! I got her from Pets at Home on September 17th 2017 and they weren't able to give me her exact birthday, so I am assuming that she is around that age, give or take a couple of months.
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Old 03-05-2019, 12:13 PM   #8
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Default Re: Female Syrian is losing her fur !

Yes I wonder if she is older than a year and a half. Leaving the sand out sounds like a good idea for now - Syrians often aren't that interested in sand baths - ours just has it in his toilet/litter tray. Have you put a new batch of Carefresh in then? I am not familiar with Xeno - assume it's for mites. If it is that then the cage clean and Xeno might do the trick.
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Old 03-05-2019, 12:22 PM   #9
WillowHamHam
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Default Re: Female Syrian is losing her fur !

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipity7000 View Post
Yes I wonder if she is older than a year and a half. Leaving the sand out sounds like a good idea for now - Syrians often aren't that interested in sand baths - ours just has it in his toilet/litter tray. Have you put a new batch of Carefresh in then? I am not familiar with Xeno - assume it's for mites. If it is that then the cage clean and Xeno might do the trick.
Thatís exactly what she does with hers, just uses it as a litter tray so I have filled up her sand tray with Carefresh as well so that she can still use it as normal. I put the new bag in last night after I disinfected everything, but I wasnít able to find the batch number. It is darker than the new bag so I am hoping that it is from a different batch. The Xeno is for mites I think, the active ingredient is Ivermectin. Iím hoping that the new bedding and Xeno should do the job but I think I will take her back again in a couple of days to make sure she is improving
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Old 03-05-2019, 12:30 PM   #10
souffle
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Default Re: Female Syrian is losing her fur !

I've seen this before in females and it seems to be a female hormone related fur loss as they age. The next baldness is quite severe and could be due to her drooling if there is a tooth problem or if she chews the water bottle spout and the neck is constantly damp. Can you take a look at her teeth. What has helped I found was feeding a porridge with wheatgerm daily and upping the green veg and particularly beansprouts and soya based foods like tofu. You can also try a multivitamin for small animals in the water but also give a plain water bottle as well. The vitamin one needs changed daily. Some extra oil in the diet like linseeds can boost the coat as well.
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