Seeing your little gnawer sick is probably disturbing for all hamster owners. After all, you want it to be as happy and healthy as possible. Thankfully, your adorable rodent will likely make a full recovery with a little bit of care, and a huge part of the care is feeding them the right diet.
You should feed your sick hamster highly nutritious foods such as chicken, eggs, baby food, some vegetables, fruits, and even honey. It’s also very important to keep them well-hydrated—this is going to speed up the recovery even more. Remember to keep your hamster warm and let it rest.
Let’s dive into the nutritional recommendations for your ill hamster and see what and how you should feed it. We’ll also discuss some other useful tips for taking care of your hamster so you can speed up its recovery even more.
What Are the Best Foods for a Sick Hamster?
The best types of food for your sick hamster provide a lot of energy and nutrition, especially in terms of protein. These include:
- Baby food
These food items will go a long way in helping your hamster regain its strength during recovery. Your hamster will need a lot of protein for that, as well as some carbohydrates and, of course, water. Creating a good balance of nutrients will greatly increase the speed of your hamster’s recovery.
It’s crucial to keep an eye on what your hamster eats and make sure they’re getting enough food, as malnutrition could potentially be fatal at their size. This is particularly dangerous because sick hamsters sometimes stop eating. If this happens, you should get them back on track with their diet as soon as possible.
At first, feeding your hamster chicken might seem like a weird idea, but it makes sense. Chicken is rich in protein, and ]your hamster needs lots of protein to get better.
Many hamster owners have reported that their hamsters responded well to chicken. It’s a safe bet to try feeding your hamster chicken, and if it likes it, keep on doing it.
The chicken you feed your hamster should be boiled, not fried. Hamsters don’t respond well to fried food, which may make them feel even worse. Your hamster should eat boiled, plain chicken, thoroughly cooked. Its digestive system will thank you.
If your hamster turns out not to be the chicken type, you can try feeding them eggs. Eggs are also an excellent source of protein and can be an amazing addition to your hamster’s diet, especially if it’s ill.
The safest option is to go with hard-boiled eggs. This will ensure that any potential pathogens in the egg are destroyed before they get to your hamster. Cut them into tiny pieces and give them to your hamster from time to time.
You can alternatively try using scrambled eggs. If you choose that option, make sure that you’re not adding any additional oil or fat to them and that you’re cooking them thoroughly. You may like runny eggs, but they’re surely not good for your hamster.
Baby food is packed with all sorts of nutrients that your hamster needs when sick. This energy bomb will make it gain strength rapidly, boosting its immune system and helping it fight off the illness.
You can choose between baby food in jars and powdered baby food—that is, baby porridge. Some owners have had great results with baby food, and their hamsters have loved it. Hamsters especially like combinations of chicken, carrot, and potato.
You can freeze ready-made baby food in an ice tray and defrost it when needed. Doing so will prevent you from wasting it or spoiling it.
Porridge might be a better choice. Since it’s dry, you can just mix it with water whenever necessary.
Try spoon-feeding your hammie a little bit at a time. This will allow you to control its portions and prevent it from overfeeding. You should not let your hamster eat too much at a time—this might make them sicker.
There are some harmful ingredients that your hamster should avoid, such as:
- Lemon juice
- Other aromatics
You’re likely already feeding your favorite rodent vegetables, and you shouldn’t stop if it gets ill. Vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, which are especially important if your hamster is sick. Plus, they provide some additional hydration.
Some typical vegetables that you might give to your hamster are:
You can experiment and see which ones your hamster will like. Remember that its food preferences may change and that it might refuse to eat something it used to eat. Don’t try to force something your hamster doesn’t like—move on to something else instead.
Another thing to remember is that lettuce can sometimes cause diarrhea in hamsters, so use it in small quantities. If your hamster already has diarrhea, you might want to skip lettuce completely.
Fruits are another excellent source of precious vitamins and minerals for your hamster. They provide a dose of carbohydrates that will energize your hamster and help it fight the disease.
Here are some fruits that hamsters love:
Of course, they should be given in moderation. You want your hamster to get stronger, not fatter. You also don’t want to feed your hamster any citruses, such as lemons and oranges.
Hamsters typically don’t eat honey, and they should definitely eat it in very small quantities, as it’s full of sugars that might give them weight problems. However, feeding them a little bit of it to give them a small boost may not be a bad idea.
You can try dissolving some honey in boiling water and letting it cool down. After that, fill a syringe with the mixture and offer it to your hamster. If it enjoys it, repeat the process occasionally, especially if you see that it’s doing your hamster some good.
Be careful where you get your honey, though. Tests have shown that a lot of honey in the USA is not real honey. If you’re not sure that you’ve got the highest-quality stuff, don’t give it to your hamster.
How to Help Your Sick Hamster
There are other things you should do to help your sick hamster. Some of these include
- Taking it to the vet
- Keeping it hydrated
- Keeping it warm
- Isolating them
- Cleaning their habitat
Taking these steps will ensure that your hamster recovers completely. Let’s take a look at each step in more detail.
Take Your Hamster to the Vet
When you notice the first signs of illness in your hamster, don’t hesitate to take it to your vet. Doing so will start the treatment on time and prevent complications that might appear otherwise.
Here are some signs of illnesses in hamsters:
These symptoms may not indicate a serious illness, but they should at least make you alert. If you notice that they’re not going away, go to your vet.
There are some other signs which point to more serious problems, and they should be a cause for getting to the vet as soon as possible.
- Difficult breathing
- Swollen abdomen
- Wet tail
- Genital or anal discharge
Veterinary help for hamsters is not expensive; the only problem might be finding a vet who is experienced in taking care of hamsters. Some places specialize only in bigger animals, but it should not be too difficult to find the right vet in any major town or city in the US.
Make Sure Your Hamster Is Hydrated
Getting enough water might be even more important than getting enough food for an ill hamster. This is especially true if it is suffering from diarrhea or a similar health problem that causes it to lose a lot of water.
The best source of hydration is water, of course. Make sure your hamster has a lot of fresh water and that its water bowl is always squeaky clean. You can fortify it with an unflavored electrolyte, but this is not a must.
Adding hydrating fruits and vegetables to its diet is also a good option for providing some additional liquid.
Keep It Warm
This is another crucial step if your hamster is ill. This step is especially important if your hamster is not eating enough, which can cause chills. What’s more, they can even go into hibernation, which is dangerous for domestic hamsters.
Provide some warm bedding, which you can even make out of shredded paper or wood shavings. Of course, you can also opt for commercial bedding, which might be the best option.
Additionally, you can include a heating pad or lamp in your hamster’s enclosure. Try to keep the temperature around 70 to 85°F (21.11 to 29.44°C) and, if you’re using a lamp, put a hamster house in the enclosure so it can hide from the bright light.
Isolate Your Hamster
If you have a group of hamsters in a single cage, it’s best to move the ill hamster to a different habitat. This will prevent the disease from spreading among the other hamsters, and it will also give the sick one enough peace and quiet to recover.
Clean the new tank thoroughly and put it somewhere where it’s going to allow your hamster to rest and not be disturbed, especially if you have other pets, apart from hamsters. Your hamster will probably not move much, but it should still have enough space to move around.
You’ll also want to prevent your hamster from exercising and moving around too much. Hamsters are huge running lovers and are known to continue exercising when they’re sick or even dying. Don’t put a hamster wheel or anything similar in your sick hamster’s new home. Some bedding, food, and water should be more than enough.
Clean Your Hamster’s Usual Habitat
While the hamster is recovering in isolation, you should use take the chance to clean the cage in which it usually lives. Even if you have only one hamster, it’s a good idea to do this in order to prevent it from getting the same illness again.
Cleaning its habitat will also prevent the germs from spreading around your home. You don’t want to get sick either, and you don’t want your other pets (if you have them) to pick up the same disease.
This step is even more important if you have a group of hamsters in one cage. Since they’ll live very close to each other, diseases can spread rapidly and cause big problems. Cleaning the cage will minimize the chances of this happening.
Always wear protective gloves when you’re cleaning your hamster’s cage. If you’re pregnant, the safest thing is to ask someone else to do this instead of you. You don’t want the risk of getting rodent meningitis or fungal infection.
It’s best to use soapy water for this task. Scrub every part of the cage thoroughly, leaving nothing untouched. You can even spray it with alcohol or some other disinfectant after it’s dry for good measure.
Alternatively, you can use a combination of bleach and water. Add ¼ cup (59.15 ml) of bleach to 2¼ cups (532.32 ml) of water and use the solution to sanitize the cage. You have to be extremely careful, as bleach can be very harmful to hamsters.
Rinse the cage well and let it dry outside until everything has evaporated. This will ensure that no bleach vapors remain in the cage.
If your hamster is ill, your main goal should be to make it stronger to fight off the disease. You’ll need to increase its protein consumption by feeding it chicken, eggs, or baby food.
You can add some fruit, vegetables, and honey for increased hydration and energy. Just make sure not to overfeed your hamster.
Sick hamsters sometimes stop eating altogether, so you’ll have to keep an eye on your hamster’s diet and make sure it’s properly fed.
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