Why Is My Hamster Losing Hair?
Hair loss (also called alopecia) is relatively common in hamsters and can be caused by a number of environmental or medical factors. Although it can affect hamsters of any age, older rodents are particularly susceptible to this condition as their immune system becomes weaker. Although the causes of hair loss are treatable, it is important to check the condition of your hamster's coat regularly to detect any underlying conditions.
Different causes of hair loss can affect different parts of your hamster's body. If your hamster is vitamin deficient or losing hair because of a medical problem, this can affect any area. According to Pet Web Site, hair loss caused by old age will usually manifest on its stomach or rear.
Some hamsters can have an allergic reaction to pine or cedar shavings and dyed paper used in their bedding. This can provoke hair loss, as well as other symptoms such as sneezing, scratching and runny eyes. However, Hilltop Animal Hospital warns that hair loss can also be a sign of a more serious underlying health problem, such as a thyroid deficiency or a tumor.
The most common cause of hamster hair loss is mites. As vet Liz Johnson says, all hamsters have them, but as they get older, they become less immune to their effects. Scratching areas irritated by mites can lead to other skin infections, such as ringworm. These can result in bald patches, along with red and inflamed skin. Repeated rubbing on cage bars or bedding allergies are other causes of this ailment.
If the cause of your hamster's hair loss is environmental, then the problem is easy to rectify. Allergies can be solved by using non-allergenic bedding, while veterinary treatment and a clean cage will help heal skin infections. A balanced diet that includes fresh vegetables, such as broccoli, nuts, seeds, non-sugared cereals, cheese and banana will help prevent hair loss, especially in aging hamsters. Many pet stores also sell soluble vitamin supplements designed for rodents. Reducing the amount of stress your hamster is exposed to, such as loud noises or other animals, will improve your hamster's health and aid recovery.
According to the British Association of Hamsters, the rodents have naturally-occurring scent glands over their hips. If they lick them, these areas may appear to be 'balding' or have a strange appearance even though they are fine. Both sexes have these glands, but they are more noticeable in males, who use them to demonstrate their sexual maturity to females. Scent glands can be susceptible to tumors so it is important to consult a vet if you notice any growths around the area.
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