If your hamster is losing weight, the issue could be caused by poor diet or health conditions. Sudden or gradual weight loss in pets is cause for concern. Monitor your hamster carefully to determine why your hamster is going through these bodily changes.
Your hamster can be losing weight because it is malnourished, underfed, or eating poor-quality food. Other reasons hamsters lose weight include dental complications, stress, and health conditions, such as diabetes, parasites, and respiratory or urinary infections.
Like humans, slight weight fluctuations are normal for hamsters (between 10 and 30 grams or 0.35 and 1.05 oz). However, if your hamster is losing a lot of weight quickly, it can be cause for concern.
Keep reading to discover why your hamster is losing weight and what you can do to remedy this issue.
As mentioned, the reasons why your hamster might be losing weight tend to be varied in nature and severity. Therefore, being well-informed regarding the issues that might be burdening your pet’s organism, can help you diagnose the cause much quicker and promptly take the necessary measures.
It’s essential to portion-control your hamster’s food so that you don’t overfeed it. However, if your hamster is losing weight, you could be underfeeding your pet.
Feeding your hamster more food is an excellent first step if you notice your hamster is starting to lose weight. Animals, like humans, can have changes in their appetites, so it might be time to up your hamster’s food intake.
Pay attention to the amount of food you are currently giving your hamster, and aim to increase its intake by an additional 200 or 300 calories. Start slowly, and keep your hamster on this regimen for a few weeks until you notice a weight increase.
Monitor your pet closely, and be careful not to overfeed your hamster to the point that it becomes overweight.
Your hamster could also be losing weight because it is malnourished. Even if your hamster eats plenty of food, it could not be eating the proper nutrients to sustain its daily functions.
Likewise, if you notice that your hamster isn’t eating very much, it could also be the result of a poor diet.
Always feed your hamster high-quality pet food that’s specific to its breed. The food should contain authentic and fresh, nutrient-rich ingredients. Feeding your hamster low-quality pet food can cause it to lose weight.
Hamsters need well-balanced diets just like humans. The best diet for a hamster will include:
- Premium hamster pellets
- Small portions of fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs
- Timothy hay
- Occasional treats such as worms, eggs, or nuts
Talk to your vet about how to optimize your hamster’s diet. If your pet has nutrient deficiencies, there are particular vitamins and supplements you can use to help restore its natural balance.
Many veterinarians in the US will offer free recommendations regarding particular vitamins or supplements that might be beneficial to your hamster.
If your hamster is experiencing dental problems, it can be difficult or uncomfortable to eat. Dental discomfort is a leading cause of weight loss among hamsters.
Hamsters’ teeth continuously grow throughout their life, and sometimes their teeth can overgrow. This overgrowth can cause extreme discomfort to a hamster’s gums, jaws, or food pipe, making it painful to eat.
Often, hamsters will avoid eating altogether if the pain in their mouth is too severe. If you suspect your hamster’s teeth might be overgrown, take your pet to the vet so that they can look at your hamster’s teeth.
It’s not uncommon for animals to suffer appetite loss when they undergo stress. A change in environment, unsanitary or unsatisfactory living conditions, new animals and family members, and even a sudden change in diet can cause your hamster to be stressed. Animals like routine, and they thrive in familiar surroundings.
Avoid suddenly changing your hamster’s feeding schedule or other familiar routines. Be careful when you introduce other pets or family members to your hamster, and put other pets in a separate cage, if possible. Keep your hamster’s cage clean so that it feels comfortable, and be sure to provide enough food and water.
Look for signs of nervousness, such as hyperactivity, excessive running on their wheels, climbing on their cage, teeth chattering, attempting to escape from their cell, and other behaviors that are abnormal for your pet.
Stressed hamsters often freeze when their muscles get very stiff, sleep more than usual, bite their cage, hide, or look alert or nervous.
Like humans, hamsters and other animals exhibit behavior changes when stressed or anxious. A stressed hamster can act more aggressively than usual, suffer hair loss, or emit excess saliva.
Knowing these signs can help you determine whether your hamster’s weight loss is related to these internal troubles.
If you notice that your hamster is losing both weight and fur, it might be a sign of mites. Check your hamster’s skin for discoloration, crust buildup, thickness, or to see if it has turned yellow.
These are all signs of a mite invasion, along with fatigue and slow movement. Hamsters are generally active, and if your hamster has lost weight or fur and is moving slowly, this might be the cause.
See a vet immediately if you suspect your hamster has mites so that they can prescribe a treatment plan for your pet. If left untreated, mites can kill your hamster.
Urinary Tract Infections, or UTIs, are common in hamsters because they sit so low to the ground and are liable to pick up bacteria in their urethra. When the bacteria makes its way to the bladder, it can grow there, resulting in a UTI.
Common symptoms of UTIs are weight loss, excessive thirst, and frequent urination. Hamsters can get UTIs from ingesting contaminated food or water that grows bacteria on their bladder.
Most UTIs require antibiotics to treat the infection. However, there are a few at-home remedies you can try to help treat your hamster’s illness. Yogurt or unsweetened cranberry juice can help drive out bacteria from your hamster’s bladder.
However, it’s best to take your hamster to the vet if you suspect it’s suffering from a UTI.
Your hamster could be suffering from a respiratory infection contributing to its weight loss. Common signs of respiratory diseases in hamsters are similar to those in humans. You’ll often see your hamster sneezing, wheezing, or having a visibly hard time breathing.
Fatigue or a decrease in movement, discharge from the nose or eyes, and weight loss are all signs of a respiratory infection. Take your hamster to the vet immediately if it has trouble breathing or if you suspect it has a respiratory infection.
Hamsters that lose a significant amount of weight and consume a lot of water might be diabetic. Diabetes is common in hamsters, and symptoms include UTIs, sugary scents in their urine, wet bottom, excessive thirst, and weight loss.
Many hamsters will try to eat more if they’re diabetic because the glucose doesn’t make it to their cells, and it convinces their brain that they’re not getting enough to eat.
If your hamster’s appetite increases, but its weight is still declining, you should be concerned. If your hamster has diabetes, it’s not receiving energy from glucose, and instead, it will burn fat and muscle for energy.
Even though your hamster is eating more calories, the food isn’t providing it with energy, so it looks for other ways to get fuel by burning muscle tissue or stored fat in the body.
Immediately schedule an appointment with your vet to discuss any concerns that your hamster might be diabetic.
Your hamster might be suffering from worms or other parasites that are affecting its digestive health. Worms and parasites make a hamster sick and cause it to lose its appetite. Intestinal tapeworms are common in hamsters. Many internal parasites cause weight loss and can even block your hamster’s intestines.
Some parasites can consume the nutrients your hamster ingests, contributing to weight loss. So if you’re feeding your hamster adequate portions and a high-quality and well-balanced meal, but it’s still losing weight, it might have worms.
Some parasites can live inside your hamster without causing much damage. However, if you notice your hamster is losing weight and you suspect it’s a parasite, immediately take your pet to be looked after by a professional before the damage reaches an irreversible stage.
The best way to prevent parasites is by keeping your hamster’s cage clean and free from fleas and insects and making sure your hamster doesn’t ingest its fecal matter.
Some hamsters will eat their feces if they are malnourished, so that’s another reason why ensuring your hamster is getting a well-balanced diet can be crucial.
Some hamsters lose weight when they are about to die. This weight loss can result due to the body’s functions slowing down, making it harder for the pet to digest its food. Like people, animals can become sluggish and tired before they are about to pass away.
Therefore, if you’re the owner of an older, generally healthy hamster, this might be the cause of its weight loss. However, as always, it’s best to consult with your vet first before reaching any conclusions.
A vet consultation is always advisable when it comes to rectifying your hamster’s weight loss.
As previously mentioned, this phenomenon could be a sign of underlying health problems. If you don’t think your hamster is sick, you can try making these changes to your hamster’s diet to help it gain weight healthily.
Be sure not to add too many changes to your hamster’s diet at once. Try implementing one or two changes at a time, and observe your hamster for a while to check if anything changes. After that, you can try adding another food source or suggestion.
Hamsters have sensitive digestive systems, and too much change at once can cause more health problems.
Adding fresh fruits and vegetables can help your hamster gain weight. You only need to add these foods in small portions because too much fresh fruit and vegetables can give your hamster diarrhea. Try feeding your hamster small amounts of produce throughout the day instead of one large helping.
Feeding your hamster foods rich in Vitamin C can help it gain weight. Some hamster foods are vitamin-fortified, which can help your hamster get the nutrients it needs, such as this Kaytee Hamster Food available on Amazon.com.
It’s rich in Omega-3s and fortified with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to keep your hamster healthy and active. The brand operates through strict US regulations, as it’s based in Chilton, Wisconsin.
There are several brands of pet recovery food for small pets that you can feed your hamster. Some of these options are designed for pets that have lost their appetite due to stress or other external factors.
Other pet recovery foods are designed for pets recovering from surgeries, while some are for animals that are nutrient-deficient.
Many of these options will help your hamster gain weight because they are rich in high-energy foods, such as bananas, and equipped with crucial nutrients to aid in your hamster’s health recovery.
Science Selective, Sherwood, Lafeber Emeraid, and Oxbow Care are all excellent brands that provide recovery foods specifically manufactured for small pets.
Related Hamster articles:
- Why Does My Hamster Stink?
- Is Vita-Sand Safe for Hamsters?
- Why Does My Hamster Smell Bad?
- How To Calm a Hamster Down
- Why Does My Hamster Have a Lump?
When your hamster starts to lose weight, it can be a legitimate cause for concern. Look for signs of illness in your pet, such as changes in its coat or skin, discharge from its nose, eyes, or bottom, trouble breathing, or unusual changes in behavior. These are all signs of severe health conditions.
If your hamster looks relatively healthy and it’s just losing weight, try changing your hamster’s diet. It could be underfed or malnourished, so be sure to add fresh fruits and vegetables to its diet, purchase a high-quality, nutrient-rich hamster food, or simply feed your pet more.
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