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Old 04-16-2021, 11:01 PM   #1
emmylou
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Join Date: Feb 2021
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Question Possible allergies?

Hello! I couldn't find any template on how a Healthcare thread should be written, so I hope this is okay.

My syrian hamster, Trico, has been to the vet two times now, and he's got a follow up appointment in about a month. But I wanted to share the problems here too, to see if anyone else has experienced the same.

I got Trico from a breeder in Norway in February, and he was born in September last year. He has always been scratching while cleaning himself, but I assumed it was part of his cleaning routine.

However, a few weeks ago during his playpen time, I noticed his fur was thinning a bit on the top of his back. He also had a dark spot there, and I arranged an appointment with an exotic vet the next day. Turns out the dark spot was just new fur growing back, so no need to worry about that.

The vet first assumed he had parasites. She injected something to stop his itching, and told me to treat him with "Stronghold", a parasite medicine for dogs and cats. I was to put one drop of this onto the skin of his neck, and then repeat it after 3 weeks, so I will give him the second drop of this in a few days now. She also said his skin was a bit red, all over, so there could be an allergic reaction.

I was to return in 2 weeks, and during that time I was to eliminate possible reasons for his condition. So I put all of his houses and stuff in the oven to disinfect them (I have all wooden and natural materials), I disinfected his sand, and changed his bedding (Previously I had Carefresh, Chipsi Extra and Hemp - and now I took away the Carefresh). I noticed the Carefresh was really dusty, and he had been sneezing in his house too, possibly from the bedding. So now his cage was cleaned out and disinfected to deal with possible parasites, and I had also eliminated a bedding allergy by removing Carefresh.

Last week was the 2 week checkup, and the vet said his skin still looked a bit red and inflamed (it's not red, but more pink-ish). She said we had eliminated parasites, because of the medicine, but I should give the second drop either way to be sure. I told her about disinfecting the cage, and she said that even though his skin looked a tiny bit better, she wanted me to continue finding the cause of the problem.

She gave him another injection of "stop itching"-medicine. She also gave me a medicine called Cortavance, which is a spray with Clorhexidine(?), made for dogs. It's supposed to calm the skin, and I was supposed to wet a cotton ball with water, then spray the cotton ball, and press it on the inflamed skin areas. The water is to avoid an overdose.

So, after the appointment I took away all the Chipsi and Hemp bedding, and replaced it with Uber paper bedding, to eliminate an allergy towards those beddings as well. And I've tried to treat him with the Cortavance spray, but he doesn't like the wet cotton ball on him, and sprints away before I get a chance to get it properly onto his skin. The first day was a success, where I managed to gently stroke him with it while he was eating. But the next two days, I've barely had a chance to treat him. I'll try again tonight.

So, to summarize:
1. He's beeing treated for parasites/mites
2. His stuff has been disinfected, to remove any bacteria/mites etc
3. His bedding has been changed from Carefresh, Chipsi and Hemp, to Uber
4. I've removed hay and herbs, to eliminate allergies from them
5. I'm supposed to treat him with a Cortavance (Clorhexidine) Spray for 10 days, and have only had one and a half successful tries so far
6. He's going back to the vet in a month`

Edit: I forgot to add that inside his sleeping house, he has shredded toilet paper. So there shouldn't be any allergies from that.

I'm sorry for the long post, it was hard to keep it short, when there are so many details.

So my question is, has anyone experienced anything similar? Allergies towards different types of bedding, or allergies in general?

And does anyone know if I can give him too much of the Clorhexidine spray? I spray 2-3 sprays onto the wet cotton, but maybe it should be just one spray? What are the chances of this stuff harming him in any way?

I read that these symptoms may also be anything from Cushings to Cancer, so I do worry about him a lot. The vet didn't say anything about this though.

He might also be allergic to a type of food, but I doubt that. I hope it will improve now that I changed his entire cage to just Uber bedding. And hopefully I can find a way to treat him with the spray without bothering him.

I added two photos of his back, this was from this morning. The fur is growing back, and the skin doesn't seem alarmingly red, I think.

Oh, and the last photo is from before I tried to treat him with the spray this morning. He's just eating his carrot in peace, minding his own business, and here I come with the camera and the medicine, haha.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 20210417_072120.jpg (158.6 KB, 16 views)
File Type: jpg 20210417_072118.jpg (121.5 KB, 15 views)
File Type: jpg 20210417_072042.jpg (113.4 KB, 14 views)

Last edited by emmylou; 04-16-2021 at 11:07 PM.
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Old 04-17-2021, 01:47 AM   #2
LunaTheHamster1
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Default Re: Possible allergies?

Hi, just a quick question. What type of wheel are you using? Just because your hamster is long haired and where his hair loss was. It made me wonder if its getting tangled up in something.

I'm not sure what to advise re pink skin/possible mites as my long haired hamster is white and his skin is very pink too, but not inflamed. Did the vet take a scraping to actually test for mites? Although I have heard these come back negative quite often.
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Old 04-17-2021, 10:25 AM   #3
emmylou
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Default Re: Possible allergies?

Hi! I'm using a wooden wheel with cork inside, there is no place to get fur stuck in it. The vet took a scraping the first time, and said she found a small amount of mites. But that could have been a small amount that was dormant, apparently. I've understood that mites can live on their skin without causing problems. And then if they get stressed, the mites can become an issue. So the vet said that the amount of mites made her think that this was not the cause of the itching. And I've treated him for mites as well, so she eliminated that as a cause.
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Old 04-28-2021, 03:55 AM   #4
emmylou
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Default Re: Possible allergies?

Hi again. Has no one experienced anything similar to this?

I will be going back to the vet in a few weeks, but in the meantime I'm trying to figure out what is causing this. I have now given him the second dose of medicine for parasites/mites (a drop of a mixture that I put on his neck). I have also tried to apply this spray that I wrote about, every couple of days. He doesn't always want to wake up when it's time to put on the spray, so I haven't done it every day, like the vet asked.

I feel like his skin now looks less red, and more natural pink. The original spot on his back has a lot of new hair growth. However, now he is losing more fur higher up on his neck. In addition to this, there are two red dots on his skin in that area. I don't know if they are scratches, or insect bites?

As I said, I gave him his second dose of mites medication yesterday. This is applied in the excact area where he is now losing more fur.

Could it be that the first dosage he got 3 weeks ago, is causing the fur loss in that area? That the area on his back was due to allergies towards Carefresh, and the area on his neck is because of the mites medicine? Or are the two red dots a sign of the mites returning?

I can take a photo of the area tonight when he wakes up, if anyone has input.

The vet told me to clean his skin with some pads/wipes from the Vet's office if he developed scratches. So I did that in stead of the spray these last two days.

He is acting normal besides this. What can it be?
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Old 04-28-2021, 04:54 AM   #5
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Possible allergies?

Hello. If mites have been eliminated then the commonest cause is an allergy yes. Hansters can actually be allergic to any type of wood bedding (and some to Carefresh). So you have done the right thing changing the substrate to paper. Some paper beddings are better than others but it depends what you can get hold of. Toilet paper is fine yes - plain white ideally. However it could take time for the skin reaction to subside after the allergen is removed. Dabbing anything on a hamster doesn’t go down well usually! I think that sounds more for relief than cure so I wouldn’t worry about using that personally. Also as he has long hair he will get wet and they can catch a chill if they get wet. You could try aloe Vera gel which is good for inflamed skin and safe if licked off. It’s sticky but doesn’t make them wet as such.

A food allergy would be unusual but not impossible. To test that you would probably need to gradually change the hamster mix over to a pellet feed like science selective- has everything in needed. That would eliminate corn and grains etc or other ingredients. But most hamster mixes contain soya (including science selective) so if it’s that there would be no improvement. It will be a process of elimination. If it doesn’t improve after a few weeks of science selective, then suspect soya and there are soya free muesli mixes available (from Rodipet). I think it’s unlikely to be soya though.

Yes there are other conditions that can cause skin redness. And then it would probably be a case of wait and see. It doesn’t sound like Cushings - that is usually in an older hamster and they have patterns of fur loss, scabs and a pot belly usually. It is very difficult (nigh impossible) for vets to get a blood sample from a hamster to test hence wait and see.

If he is happy enough and seems healthy otherwise I wouldn’t worry too much unless he develops any other symptims. It started with scratching (which they do quite a lot under normal circumstances anyway when grooming). So allergy does seem suspect. It could just take time for the reddened skin to subside. You could also give probiotics which could help with any allergy as it helps balance the gut. Dr S is one used by Cypher on here - from rat rations. That can help balance out any digestive issues.

Unless the skin starts to show any lumps developing I wouldn’t be too concerned about other skin diseases.

The bald patch on the back is very common from rubbing so if not the wheel, is there anything else that can cause rubbing? Low house entrance? Low gap under a wood bridge etc?

All the changes and disinfecting can also cause stress so things take longer to settle down. So personally I would stick with pure paper substrate, gradually change over to science selective over a couple of weeks and give it a bit of time. It could actually be a bacterial infection of the skin and the next step then would be to try antibiotics I think. But I would try a probiotic as well as a diet change. I’ve used benebac ftom Amazon - just a pinch added to food (dosage on the pack per weight but for a Robo the dose worked out as a “pinch”!

But maybe a bit of time to see if it settles down as well. If still red in a month after diet change and probiotics then maybe suspect bacterial infection of the skin.
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Old 04-30-2021, 12:46 AM   #6
emmylou
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Default Re: Possible allergies?

Wow, thank you for such a detailed answer Serendipity7000! I really appreciate you taking the time to write to me.

Well, I'm not sure if mites have been eliminated, after seing the small red dots on his neck a few days ago. I was worried these might be insect bites. But the vet said that mites were eliminated once he had the first treatment for it, so I don't know.

I didn't know allergies towards wooden bedding were so common. I live in Norway, so we don't have access to all of the beddings that they have in the UK and the US, but I have access to Uber and also Kaytee Clean and Cozy, although they are very expensive. But I decided to stop using Carefresh completely, since I found it so dusty compared to Uber. He stopped sneezing once I took away the Carefresh.

You're right, it might just be that his allergic reaction hasn't gone down yet, that it just takes some time for the skin to heal again.

Haha, I have actually succeeded with dabbing the spray and the pads on him a few times. But I didn't think he could catch a cold from it, he does get his fur a little bit wet in that area when I put the stuff on. I will try to apply it less often now until the next Vet's appointment and see if it heals on its own with time.

I have thought about food allergies as well, but I had no idea where to start. Now I'm using Versele Laga Crispy Muesli Hamsters & Co, as this is recommended in Norway. In addition to this I give him fruits and vegetables in small amounts, dried herbs for foraging, pea flakes, snacks from JR Farm and some hazel wood and dandelion roots. The only food he has had since before the fur loss, is the seed mix and vegetables, so the allergy must come from one of those if it is the food. I can't find Science Selective here in Norway so far. But I'll look into that. I'll also look into probiotics, maybe ask my vet about that in the next appointment.

I don't know if it might be due to rubbing against something. Maybe the entrence hole of his house is slightly small and he's been rubbing his back against that. I have also wondered whether he could be allergic to his house. It's a Trixie "Maze house Leif", made with "living wood". He had a house in "living wood" before I gave him the multi chamber hide as well, so it might be the wood in those?

I'll post a photo of his neck area once I get a chance.

Thank you so much again for all the input, I really appreciate it!
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Old 04-30-2021, 02:13 AM   #7
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Default Re: Possible allergies?

It could be rubbing from the house. The Leif house is a bit small for a syrian - both compartments and entrance holes. It’s a good size for a dwarf hamster. Some people who have used it for Syrians knock the central panel out to make the centre compartment bigger. There will be quite a few doors to go through and the angled top entrance. I would definitely suspect that as a cause of skin and fur rubbing.

He shouldn’t be allergic to a wood house - it’s more shavings etc that cause allergy - but it’s possible!

Rodipet maje rxcellent labyrinth houses that are smooth birch wood ply (no allergy issues and it can also be painted with plastikote to seal it/waterproof it). But they are expensive and a cage needs to be big enough to fit the Syrian sized one. But they do make a good two room house. All their houses have large entrances at least 7cm diameter. If you can’t get those or they are too expensive then any smooth wood house with a big enough door would be better - a large guinea pig house can work well instead of a maze house - you can fit a litter tray in one corner and they still have room for a large nest and hoards.

One other thing that can cause sore red skin is urine burns. I’ve never had that despite one Syrian who insisted on nesting in his toilet in his pee! But if the skin is rubbed as well it may be more susceptible.

So that is one thing to try - change the house. If doing the I usually just pop the new one over the top of where the old one was so as to leave the nest and hoards etc in tact. So they accept the change without freaking out.

Another thought I had was what do you use to clean the cage? String scents or disinfectants can cause issues for hamsters too. I know you had to disinfect everything recently so always best to use a pet safe one like Johnson’s or beaphar abd even then rinse well afterwards to remove any odour.

Generally though disinfectant isn’t needed - just warm soapy water for the cage base (eg a drop of washing up liquid in water - low scent again - not a lemony one).

It’s why scented bedding is so bad for them.

Kaytee clean and cozy is a good option for allergies plus nice and soft. The bigger packs tend to last longer. Also if you do partial cleans and spot clean mostly then bedding lasts a lot longer and it’s better for the hamster as full cage cleans stress then.

Can you get science selective from Amazon? Or anything from Amazon ? They do quite a few houses as well.
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Old 04-30-2021, 02:26 AM   #8
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Possible allergies?

Houses - I have used this one before. It’s about the same size as a labyrinth house but just open inside. Because it is tall with such a large door, it works well when sat directly on the cage base with the substrate piled up around it abd some inside. This effectively reduces the height, makes the door smaller (but still wide enough) and also means it’s supported so can’t sink. So it is part subterranean basically. The roof lifts off so you don’t need to take the house out abd can just check inside or remove the litter tray. A corner litter tray inside works well and they will use it. Also keeps the cage clean and dry so less bedding used as you can go much longer between cleans (3 months or more with spot cleaning and a litter tray).

The roof also doubles up as a platform or somewhere to put a food bowl. I had this before I got the Rodipet labyrinth house. It’s smooth wood and that shouldn’t cause any allergy issues. But if you wanted to seal it or make it wipe clean inside then a pot of plastikote would do that (pet safe and virtually odourless).

It comes in clear or colours. Can’t find the clear but this blue is nice

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Plastikote-...l+paint&sr=8-4


Ferplast Sin 4647 Rabbit House, 37 x 27.7 x 20 cm: Amazon.co.uk: Pet Supplies
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Old 05-05-2021, 02:52 AM   #9
emmylou
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Default Re: Possible allergies?

Thanks again for answering!

Regarding the Leif house - I did remove the "stairs", so that it's just a larger hole left where the stairs normally are. I also removed a wall on the outer side. But the inner rooms are a bit on the smaller side, and the entrances too. So I'm gonna get another house for him as soon as I can!

The rabbit house you linked looks good! It doesn't seem like they ship it to Norway though But I will look for a similar one in my local pet store Thanks for the tip! It's very nice to be able to take the roof off, so I'll look for that.

He did pee in his nest when I first got him, before I changed to a multi chamber house. Now he has certain spots around the cage where he pees, so his nest is pretty clean.

When I disinfected the cage, I used some cleaning wipes made for bathroom cleaning. But I wiped the cage with water afterwards, so it shouldn't be the scent from the cleaning. I also spot clean, so I don't change out the entire bedding when cleaning the cage

I'll check to see if I can order Science Selective from Amazon I looked up the Rodipet houses, but they only ship to Denmark and Sweden - not Norway It's a shame, because those houses with the granite roofs are so pretty!

I added some photos of my cage. Feel free to comment if you see anything else that may trigger allergies For clarity, the sand is a mix of children's play sand, and a cat litter brand that's safe for hamsters in Norway. And inside the glass vase I have a Coconut substrate.

Here is a video where I tried to show his skin and missing fur: 20210504_230342.mp4 on Vimeo

It's not easy to see, but his fur is thinning around his neck area, and the area on his back, where it originally started, has grown back quite a bit.
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Old 05-05-2021, 04:10 AM   #10
LunaTheHamster1
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Default Re: Possible allergies?

I'm going through something similar with my robo:

My Robo has got Alopecia

I'm beginning to think it was the carefresh.
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