Bumblefoot is also called Pododermatitis and is a common medical condition affecting hamsters. It can also affect rats and guinea pigs. When suffering from Bumblefoot, the animal’s toes become inflamed. This is a painful condition; it can also become deadly if not treated properly and promptly.
The primary cause of Bumblefoot in hamsters is scrapes, abrasions, and cuts on the hamster’s footpad. Hamsters can get injured anytime during their daily activities. Bacteria enter the cut, thus causing inflammation and infection.
The hamster’s feet will become sore and red when suffering from Bumblefoot. If not tended to, Bumblefoot can grow and spread over the foot. This causes the hamster acute pain and makes it difficult to move its paw.
When it comes to how to treat Bumblefoot in hamsters at home, there are several home treatments hamster owners can use. They can use Epsom Salt and Vitamin C to treat the sores.
They can also apply antibiotics and bandage the sores. However, a visit to the veterinary doctor is mandatory if the condition persists.
Reasons That Cause Bumblefoot
There are multiple reasons hamsters can get bumbles or spots of inflammation on their toes. This inflammation can be very painful for hamsters and turn into ulcers and sores. Let’s look at the reasons that can cause Bumblefoot below.
- Obesity is a common reason that can cause Bumblefoot. This is because the hamster will put more pressure on its feet when it becomes overweight. This extra pressure can irritate its footpad leading to pain and inflammation.
- Cages with wire floors can also lead to this condition in companion rodents. If your hamster is obese and has to walk over a wire flooring continuously, inflammation and pain on its toes are inevitable.
- Poor sanitation can also cause Bumblefoot. Excess moisture, feces, and urine in the hamster’s cage can become a breeding ground for bacteria. This unsanitary condition in which the hamster lives can make its footpads susceptible. Even the slightest abrasion can result in Bumblefoot.
- Overgrown toenails can also be a cause of this painful condition. If the hamster’s nails are not trimmed regularly, the rodent’s feet can easily become imbalanced. This imbalance creates pressure points that can eventually lead to Bumblefoot.
- Long nails can also naturally curl and puncture the hamster’s feet. This can cause the creature extreme discomfort and pain.
Symptoms of Bumblefoot
Bumblefoot is relatively easy to spot. Symptoms of this painful disease include as follows.
The hamster has red and swollen feet and refuses to move around its cage much. When it walks, it shows lameness and is also extremely lethargic. This can also be a sign if the little critter has very sore and sensitive back feet.
There can also be a possibility that this bacterial infection was present on the surface your hamster stepped on. If your hamster scrapes or cuts its feet and then steps on such a surface, this could catch the disease.
Bumblefoot can also spread very easily and infect the hamster’s entire foot. In severe cases, surgery could be required to rectify the condition. But this is rare, and the animals often suffer so much that they must be put down.
Different Stages of Bumblefoot
There are three main stages of Bumblefoot.
Your hamster’s foot will turn red and become slightly inflamed.
This is when the hamster’s footpad turns a darker red and appears more inflamed. In this stage, the protective layer of your hamster’s foot is compromised; hence microorganisms have infected it.
In this stage, the inflammation on the hamster’s foot becomes severe. The little critter will be in unbearable pain and unable to move its paw. The inflamed portion of its paw will become reddish-brown. There can also be a discharge of pus from that area. This stage requires extreme medical attention; hence you will need to visit the vet immediately.
How to Treat Bumblefoot in Hamsters at Home
When this disease starts and is in the first stage, you can take several steps to treat it at home. These steps can prevent the infection from getting worse and spreading. Let’s consider these effective home remedies in detail below.
- Vitamin C is a great antidote for Bumblefoot. It helps curtail inflammation and encourages repairing bodily tissues, contributing to healing wounds. If you have recently detected the infection, feed your hamster vitamin C through a small dropped daily. This vitamin will enable the hamster’s body to fight the infection.
- Epsom salt also has great anti-bacterial qualities. It is very effective in treating soreness and inflammation in hamsters. To cure Bumblefoot, prepare an Epsom Salt bath for your little critter. You should have a sufficient quality of lukewarm water and add a small amount of Epson Salt.
- Soak your hamster’s foot in the water for ten to twenty minutes. Epsom Salt is known to soothe swollen feet and reduce inflammation and redness.
- Epsom Salt also helps in eliminating dead scales from the hamster’s feet. Repeat this bath twice daily. Once the infection begins healing, reduce the bath to once daily.
- You can also treat the early stages of the Bumblefoot infection through disinfectants and bandages. Start by cleaning out the wound with the help of a disinfectant. You can use any OTC disinfectant for this purpose. Then bandage the wound to restrict any further infections.
- To bandage, put a medicated wrap on the cut and then cover it with gauze. Then wrap a bandage around this to keep the gauze in place. Make sure the bandage is not wrapped too tightly. Also, change the bandage frequently to encourage rapid healing.
- Another great homemade remedy to treat Bumblefoot is Manuka honey. Manuka honey possesses great antiseptic qualities and can work wonders in curing this infection. You can apply a small amount of Manuka honey directly on your hamster’s foot.
- Do this daily for effective results. You can also draw a bath with lukewarm water and some Manuka honey. Soak your hamster’s foot in this bath daily.
- Infections are usually caused when bacteria enter the wounds. This can also cause pus formations. Good antibiotics can treat such conditions effectively.
- You can consult a veterinary doctor to prescribe some antibiotics that would work.
- Antibiotics are usually taken twice a day or as prescribed by the doctor. Antibiotic creams and ointments are often very effective as well. These are also much easier to use as they simply need to be applied to the wound.
If the case of Bumblefoot worsens, home remedies are less likely to work. You will need to seek veterinary assistance immediately.
The vet will initially examine your hamster and perform some lab tests. The vet will do this to determine what kind of bacteria has infected the sores and cuts. This is important to prescribe the correct antibiotic.
Once the vet diagnoses your hamster with Bumblefoot, they will clean the infected area and prescribe an antibiotic. This antibiotic can be topical, oral, or injectable. The vet will trim the hamster’s toenails and cut the hair around the wound.
The next step may include soaking your hamster’s foot in an antibiotic solution and applying an antibiotic ointment to the wound. The doctor may also prescribe pain medication and antibiotics to give your hamster at home.
Every case of Bumblefoot is unique and will be treated as such by a competent vet.
If the condition is not healing and the infection worsens, amputating the foot can become the last resort to remove the infection.
To prevent painful conditions like Bumblefoot, keep your hamster’s cage as clean as possible. Change bedding frequently and make sure the hamster’s surroundings are comfortable.
If your hamster cage is not clean and sits on a moist surface all day, it can lead to bacterial growth in the bedding. The bacteria can then easily transfer to the hamster’s feet, thus increasing the chances of infections.
Try to keep your hamster and the cage as dry as possible. Also, keep the hamster in the least humid part of your home.
Ensure that the hamster’s cage does not have a wire bottom and bedding isn’t abrasive. Your hamster’s cage should have an even surface, and so should the wheel they run on. This will prevent the critter’s feet from getting scratched or hurt.
If you get a hamster, always take good care of it. All the steps listed above are vital to prevent painful diseases such as Bumblefoot.
You can do this by creating a good cleaning schedule for your hamster. Clean out its cage thoroughly and keep the bedding clean and dry. Change your hamster’s water frequently as well. These steps will reduce the chances of your hamster acquiring Bumblefoot.
Don’t panic if you ever notice Bumblefoot symptoms in your hamster. Instead, visit the nearest veterinarian immediately and get a proper diagnosis. Follow the veterinarian’s instructions, and your little critter will be well.
Treating the infection at home is possible if you feel the infection is in its initial stage. If you are wondering how to treat Bumblefoot in hamsters at home, you can always try the abovementioned techniques and remedies.
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My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more