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Old 01-20-2021, 06:09 PM   #1
Potato
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Exclamation Diagnosed with Cushing's

Hi! I have a long-haired female sable Syrian hamster going to be 2 in about a month and we brought her to the vet because of some concerning issues and she has been diagnosed with Cushing's disease. The vet is the most reliable/trustable vet I can go to currently, but I feel that they don't have as much experience with hamsters compared to cats and dogs (and unfortunately, there are only so many people who take their hamsters to the vet so it's not everyday they have a hamster as a patient). I gave them a list of anything I have noticed about my hamster and I feel only some of the symptoms match with Cushing's disease, with only 1 symptom that is convincing me. I am also left with a few questions and unfortunately, I was unable to be there in person and had to have someone else bring my hamster to the vet. I am not a vet though so I may just be paranoid ^_^; but any opinions would be appreciated!

Symptoms:
Sleep: -[Jan 16] She was sleeping all day and night. Sometimes, she wouldn't be sleeping but would just be sitting in the corner
-From then on, she has spent almost all her time in the corner except to go urinate, drink, or eat (sometimes I have to carry her to the water bottle in front of her so that she could stay hydrated)
-I stayed up till 2am once and the only activity she did was to eat
-I wouldn't say she is lethargic as if you pick her up, she will move her head around and walk around, but shortly after, she may sit still and look like she's spacing out
-Now that I think about it, one time while she was free roaming, I put her on my chair and she spaced out for around 20 mins (This was on Jan 12) and when I put her back down, she spent a good portion of her time where she built a second nest
===============================================
Food/Water Habits: -She is still eating food but I think she might've been eating a bit more starting from Jan 19 (or just eating for longer)
-[Jan 17] She has been drinking water more frequently

Urine/Stool: -Her stool is still solid and she has never had diarrhea
-[Jan 18] Her urine was a reddish-copper colour
-I haven't noticed that she was going to urinate way more often, but I cannot for sure say there hasn't been a minor change that was consistent (on Jan 18 she may have been going to urinate a bit more frequently, but on Jan 19 she was urinating a little less frequently than on Jan 1
-Sometimes there is a cloudy white substance on her bum when I pick her up

Weight/Shape: -[July 21 2020 to Aug 9 2020] She weighed around 118g-134g (there was one time when she ate a little too much) and her average weight within that time period was around 124g
-[Jan 18] This night, she weighed 167g which was really concerning
-[Jan 19] This afternoon she weighed 164g and this night, she weighed 166g
-[Jan 18] Her abdomen was looking more bloated The vet did an x-ray and has said that the bloating was more on her left side where her stomach is and commented on how it was probably due to eating more, though they have said that they haven't seen her eat while she was with them which was about 3 hours

Fur: -Her fur looks kind of disheveled but if you brush her gently, it will usually look almost smooth again
-The fur on her bum and bottom of her tail is a little yellow and sticking together
The vet has said that her fur looks a little less vibrant and more dull

Odor: -The urine odor is stronger

Anything that hasn't happened: -No discharge from nose or eyes
-No major fur loss (her back and sides look fine, if you flip her over, her belly is not very exposed but maybe there was a slight change and I have gotten used to it so I cannot tell the difference)

Extra: -Her left leg is crooked slightly because of a past injury
-She has gotten weaker (she stopped climbing to where her water bottle was previously, stopped running on her wheel <-- May be because of her leg) so I moved her bottle way closer to where she stays and have gotten rid of most of her toys and wheel
-[Jan 19, 9pm] She ran out of food so I had to switch
-Her nails look a little dull (?)
===============================================
I was told that her urine was copper-ish possibly because I changed her diet but her urine was that colour before the switch of food. I know that urine can be that colour because of kidney issues or UTI (if she did have an infection, it may be because she free roamed every night but I don't think she could've lived this long with the infection). Also, I read somewhere that if a hamster did have Cushing's, when they were awake, they would still act not that differently but my hamster hasn't been very active at all. Again, I'm not a vet and I have never had any experience with Cushing's, kidney issues, or UTI in hamsters before.

I'm not really sure what to do. She's already pretty old and maybe it would be best to let her live out her last days? I want to do what's best for her.. Any advice would be appreciated! (:

BTW, does anyone know if there's a healthier diet for her or anyway to make her be more comfortable, etc.. I was told I should just be careful of her weight and feed her less if her weight increases. Still, i'm a bit confused. Do I keep her at 160g then since a dramatic weight change may impact her negatively?
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Old 01-21-2021, 10:53 AM   #2
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Diagnosed with Cushing's

Hello. I think you are doing right to question the diagnosis to me. What you describe sounds to me like a very old hamster in her twilight time and possibly nearing the end of her life. Quite a lot of vets, who are not expert in hamsters, diagnose Cushings when a lot of the symptoms are the same as just old age symptoms. Specific Cushings syndromes are usually large patches of hair loss and a swollen pot belly - sometimes dark skin pigmentation as well and a lot of sores on the skin.

I found it very upsetting when a vet diagnosed Cushings because they wouldn’t prescribe Metacam for pain relief, saying it is contra indicated in Cushings. Without even a definite diagnosis. Needless to say I changed vets.

Very few vets can categorically diagnose Cushings as it needs a blood test and it’s a highly specialised thing to get blood from a hamster.

I think the main thing is lots of tlc right now. I would remove any levels or anything she could fall from abd add some of the shelf toys at substrate level to add to the enrichment at floor level (I have set up a few retirement bungalows for hamsters and they can still happily zip around on one level. Make sure her food and water is easily accessible from her house (ie move them a bit closer). After that avoid disturbing her cage and nest as much as possible and let her eat anything she fancies. Tasty baby food (4 months age) or even a bit of plain cake. Keep an eye on her for any sign of pain or suffering. Signs can be looking hunched up, ears down all the time etc. She may be close to just passing naturally if she is sleeping a lot.

Usually when they are near their time they just stay in the nest all the time and only come out for food and water - until they stop coming out for food and water. If it gets up that stage and she is like that for a few days, or you think she is in pain, it can be kinder to help them on their way. Always check with the vet if they do gas anaesthesia first. If not go to a different vet.

Another sign of pain (recently researched) is a particular facial expression that sort of gives them slitty eyes - as if their skin is pulled back towards the ears.
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Old 01-21-2021, 12:47 PM   #3
Potato
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Default Re: Diagnosed with Cushing's

Yes, I haven't noticed any major loss of fur anywhere, dark pigmentation on the skin, and sores. The only thing is she is more bloated.

I've already removed anything she may trip on and made sure the environment she is in is warm as well as added more bedding and make sure her food and water is right in reach. ^_^

I'm only mainly concerned about her urine colour because I don't think old age is supposed to affect the colour except if it was an infection or the organs failing?

She doesn't seem to be in pain but maybe discomfort? And after spending a little time with her, she always makes a beeline towards her nest.

Thanks for your suggestions! I'll try to make her days as comfy as possible.
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Old 01-21-2021, 01:23 PM   #4
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Default Re: Diagnosed with Cushing's

I would keep an eye on the bloating. This is also common when they are in their twilight time. Their organs all start to fail - as with humans. Commonly kidneys but it could be liver or heart and all can cause fluid bloating. An internal tumour could also cause it. I say keep an eye on it because if the bloating gets quite a lot bd she is struggling to walk with it, it may well be better to help her on her way. Our last Syrian got very bloated and his ears were down so I thought he was in pain, but the main reason I took him to be helped on his way was I feared the bloating may burst abd him have a traumatic ending. Greasy fur may mean she is no longer able to groom herself properly.
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Old 01-22-2021, 01:00 PM   #5
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Default Re: Diagnosed with Cushing's

Ok, I’ll make sure to keep an eye on her
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Old 01-22-2021, 08:15 PM   #6
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Default Re: Diagnosed with Cushing's

Update: Her condition has worsened.. She is definitely urinating blood and I am really doubting the vet's diagnosis. Her fur has thinned a bit on her belly and her fur is a little more yellowish. The most concerning thing is that she is starting to lean to one side when she walks and sometimes tip over. I've read that this might mean she has an ear infection. If she did have an infection (UTI for example), is it possible to spread to the ear? Or is this a respiratory problem or because she is older? If she does have an infection then I think her death may be avoided for some time but if it is old age, should I have her euthanized? Her ears are slightly flattened and after moving sometimes, she pauses for a minute. Her breathing seems a little more labored and also her eyes are bulging out a bit..
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Old 01-22-2021, 08:48 PM   #7
Potato
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Default Re: Diagnosed with Cushing's

I have no idea how to post a photo so i'll just include the links if anyone wants to see:

https://i.postimg.cc/75Gxf4vq/2021-01-22-223411.png

https://i.postimg.cc/0zT9S4xD/2021-01-22-223556.png

https://i.postimg.cc/mc7ByS2q/2021-01-22-224302.png

Last edited by Potato; 01-22-2021 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 01-25-2021, 05:16 AM   #8
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Default Re: Diagnosed with Cushing's

I'm so sorry i can't help you. If you could find another vet..that would be wonderful.
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Old 01-25-2021, 05:29 AM   #9
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Default Re: Diagnosed with Cushing's

She is suffering. So she does need to see a vet and yes they may suggest you help her on her way so be prepared for that. Blood is always very serious with hamsters. Female hamsters can also get pyometra (womb infection). I suggest you get an urgent appointment with an exotic vet who knows about hamsters. She is probably in pain and only an experienced vet can determine whether pain relief and antibiotics are the way forward or whether she needs to be helped on her way.
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Old 01-25-2021, 05:32 AM   #10
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Default Re: Diagnosed with Cushing's

I am so sorry but she really does sound like she needs help. See what the vet says but I would contact a different vet - an exotic one ideally.
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