Hamsters make excellent family pets. These cute balls of fur are solitary creatures with docile personalities, and this is what makes them unique and adorable. On average, a hamster can live for 2-3 years.
Because of the short life expectancy, most pet parents don’t realize when their furry friends turn from kids to seniors.
In this post, we will study the common signs of aging. We will also unveil some basic care tips for elderly hamsters.
Hop on in!
Signs of Old Age in Hamsters
If you are keen enough, you will quickly realize that your pet is flipping the final chapters of its life. Most of the old age signs hamsters exhibit are not so different from the signs of aging in humans. They include loss of appetite, thinning hair, and lethargy.
Dive in and let’s go through 6 common signs of aging in hamsters:-
When a hamster turns into a senior, you will notice a drastic decrease in its energy levels. Instead of running on the wheel or around the cage, the pet is likely to spend long hours sleeping.
- Skin and Fur Changes
Senior hamsters have finer fur that happens to be quite sparse. While the pet may not have obvious bare spots, you will likely see through its coat of fur. Moreover, the skin beneath the thinning coat may appear flaky and dry.
- Loss of Appetite
As hamsters age, they lose interest in their food. After all, the pet does not need much energy because it remains inactive most of the time. As a result of poor/bad eating habits, it may grow frail and thinner as time goes by.
- Poor Vision
Cataracts are a common vision problem that mainly affects older hamsters. Fortunately, these creatures are nearsighted by nature, so the concern does not have a grave impact on their quality of life.
Most mammals are predisposed to suffer from arthritis in old age. Painful or swollen joints characterize this health concern. In hamsters, arthritis causes walking challenges. The pet may have trouble using its toys and may walk around the cage in slow, jerky movements.
- Dental Concerns
Hamsters chew on stuff to prevent the overgrowth of their teeth. Because of issues such as lethargy and lack of appetite, the pet’s teeth may overgrow or become crooked, brittle, and loose.
Tips for Taking Care of a Senior Hamster
Let’s go straight to studying a few basic care practices for elderly hamsters.
- Cage Care
It is good practice to get your hammy’s cage cleaned daily. Now that your pet is old and frail maintaining the best hygiene levels should be a number one priority.
Old age takes a toll on the immune system, making it easy for a hamster to develop diseases if exposed to bacteria and other microbes from feces, urine, and stale foods. Here is what you need to do:-
- Remove and replace soiled or contaminated bedding daily
- Replace the food and water
- Wipe down the cage at least twice weekly
- Food and Nutrition
Even with a diminishing appetite, it is crucial to provide your hamster with a balanced diet. Remember that its teeth are not what they used to be, so a few changes may be necessary.
It is perfectly okay to stick to the pet’s standard diet if its incisors are still properly aligned. However, you must consult with a vet if you notice misalignment caused by malocclusion. This concern locks the jaw and prevents the mouth from opening all the way. In return, malocclusion makes it hard or impossible for the hamster to eat.
Your vet will recommend the ideal dietary changes depending on the severity of the concern.
As old age sets in, most hamsters develop joint problems. This makes it harder to play with their toys as they used to in the past. Do your furry friend the favor of making exercises easier so that it does not exude too much effort in the attempts to remain active.
If making the activities easier doesn’t seem to help, and the hamster insists on remaining completely inactive, you must consult with your vet. This may indicate serious health issues that need loser assessment.
Old age makes everything itch and ache. The situation is not different for older hamsters. While these creatures are naturally not great fans of cuddles, they may have more resentment towards handling as they grow older.
Don’t get me wrong; these are still living being, and touch makes them feel good. In case you suspect that your pet is in pain even when handled gently and with care, you must consult with your veterinarian. Don’t just assume that the discomfort or pain is age-related. It could be a small, treatable issue.
Something I have learned from experience is that senior hamsters don’t like getting startled. Anytime you want to interact with your cute ball of fur, start by talking to it but keep your voice low. Slowly reach for the body and cup it firmly enough to prevent falling but gently enough to prevent possible discomfort.
With vision and hearing problems, aches and pains, and even a weak immune system, proper care of an elderly hamster mainly requires patience.
Use your judgment to know when things are taking a turn for the worse and partner with your vet to ensure your pet remains as happy, comfortable, and healthy as possible.
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