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Can Hamsters Have Allergies? (Elimination Steps)

We all know someone with allergies or even have allergies ourselves, so we see the impact that it can have on daily life for humans. But what about our Hamsters? Are they also struggling with allergies? Let’s find out.

Hamsters can be allergic to things, such as the environment in which they live or even just what type of food they eat. Some allergies are mild and easy to treat, while others can lead to more severe reactions.

You can use the below for Gerbils and Mice as well, as they also suffer from environmental and food allergies.

What is an Allergy in Hamsters?

An allergy is where your hamster’s body gets a reaction from food or a substance. The immune system will mistake the food or object for something harmful to them. A hamster’s immune system will go into overdrive to protect itself, causing unpleasant symptoms in the process.

How to Prevent an Allergic Reaction?

The allergy-causing object or food item needs to be removed from or around the hamster’s cage. In most cases, this will resolve allergies in hamsters. 

Here is a list of the below signs and symptoms to watch out for. However, the primary resolution is trying to find out which food or substance is causing your hamster’s immune system to go into overdrive. By eliminating certain foods, food brands, bedding, and even where you keep your hamster’s cage can be a long process to figure out.

Allergy Symptoms

  • Difficulty in Breathing (Wheezing)
  • Dry skin around the Eyes, Nose and Ears
  • Itchiness
  • Lethargic
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Red Feet
  • Runny Nose
  • Sneezing
  • Swollen Feet
  • Watery Eyes
  • Diarrhoea

Allergy Elimination Steps

Step One – Investigation 

Ask yourself, has this just all of a sudden occurred? or has these allergy symptoms be ongoing? If you have recently changed anything to do with your hamster’s bedding, food, treats, cleaning products stop using them immediately. Allergies signs can appear straight away or can even take a couple of days to show in hamsters, so if you can cast your mind back at least a week or two of any changes. Perhaps ask your family members have they used different cleaning products? An investigation is your first step to success for your hamster.

Step Two – Hamster Treats

I know your hamster will hate me for this, but you need to remove all the hamster treats you currently have in the cage now. You need to concentrate on the bedding and food first since these are the necessities.

Only after there are positive changes and with your hamster having fewer symptoms or none at all. You can then start to introduce their treats back one by one. But until then, remove them from the cage, and let’s move onto Step Three.

Step Three – Change Bedding & Change Food

Checklist! You haven’t made any changes in the last couple of weeks, and you have asked around the family. We are also aware that hamsters can develop allergies to things they were not previously allergic to. 

Bedding

So, It’s time to start changing some essential items and replacing them. The most common allergies causing objects in a hamsters cage is their bedding. Since they spend a lot of time sleeping and the bedding all around them, it’s also one of the easiest to eliminate first. 

Does your hamster have wood bedding? It’s common for a hamster to be allergic to wood bedding such as pine or cedar as these are actually covered in oils. I suggest choosing a bedding material that is not made from wood entirely or opting for an even lighter wood variety. Or hypoallergenic hamster bedding

Hamster Bedding Options

TIP: Removing all bedding and use a non-scented toilet roll or paper towels whilst waiting for new bedding.

Hamster Food

Try swapping their food for high-grade Hamster food. Not only it will high-grade hamster food to protect them against illnesses by keeping them fit and healthy, but it will also have less of harmful ingredients that hamster could well be allergic to. If you already feed your hamster the very best food, then swap it to a different brand, Each brand of hamster food will have slightly different ingredients. In doing this, you’re hoping that your hamster’s food item that they could be allergic to won’t be in the new brand. Check for the ingredients and try to pick one thats very much different from the ingredients you already have.  

High-grade Hamster Food

Time Expectation of Steps One to Three

Eliminating their bedding and food shouldn’t take any longer than a week. You should start to see good results if the old food or bedding was the cause of the allergy. However, if in this time your hamster has deteriorated, then you must take them to a veterinary professional. 

When to introduce the treats back? 

When you have confirmed what the allergies source was, either the bedding or the hamster food. You can then start to treat your hamster again. One treat at a time and check for any symptoms that may occur as above. 

I am pretty confident that by following the above steps, you can resolve your hamster’s allergies. However, on rare occasions, the above won’t work. Please continue following the other possible reason for allergies that you can eliminate quickly.

Other Causes of Allergies to Eliminate

Your hamster still has allergies symptoms. You have changed the bedding, changed the hamster food, removed their treats and also given enough time to recover from allergies caused by the previous food and substances. But with no success! Please continue with the below. 

Cleaning Products

Don’t use any existing cleaning products. It would be best if you use only warm water and vinegar. (Add a quarter cup to two cups of warm water)

Water Bottle & Food Bowls

If your hamster’s water bottle or bowl is plastic, then change it to a different type of material like metal or vice versa. If the bottle is metal, then try swapping it for a plastic bottle. 

Plastic Water Bottles

Ceramic Water Feeder

Metal Water Bottles

Handling

When you handle your hamster, wash your hands. Do not use hand gel as this is laced with alcohol and can cause irritation in hamsters. Just use plain warm water and a gentle hand wash.

Perfume & Deodorant 

Like many hamster owners, their pets are often in their bedrooms. When you need to put perfume on or deodorant on, it would be best if you did this away from their cage. Perfumes and deodorant can cause irritations in hamsters, none the less it’s awful for them to breathe it in. Their lungs are only tiny.

Air Fresheners & Candles

Many of the scented candles, candle melts, and plug-in air fresheners have harmful toxins in and they are released into the air when in use. Either don’t use these in the same room as your hamster, or you can opt for a safer alternative. Candles such as soy wax, beeswax and vegetable wax candles would be best suited to a household with pets since they release no harmful chemicals.

Pet-Friendly Candles

Smoking

If you or your family member smokes near your hamster’s cage, you must either stop or move the cage into a different place away from the smoke. 

Cage

Change their cage. It might be a bit extreme; however, if you have an all-plastic cage, try swapping it to a metal barred hamster cage would be a wise option, and vice versa; this will then eliminate their enclosure, causing the reaction.

Wooden Hamster Cage (No Plastic or Metal)

Non-Metal Barred Hamster Cage Options (Reduced Metal)

Metal Barred Hamster Cage Options (No Plastic)

If Left Untreated

Your hamster will be in a great deal of discomfort, and since allergies affect the immune system, your hamster could have a shorter life span. Common illness possibilities are wet-tail or an infection that can be fatal.

You’ve done it

If by following the above and you have eliminated the allergy-causing object, then well done to you! I am thrilled that I helped you achieve this. It would be great to hear from you what food, brand, item or substance was the culprit.

Been Unsuccessful in the Elimination Process (Whats Next?)

It could well be a rare sad fact that the above may not resolve your hamster’s allergy problems. All hamsters are different, and being patient is one of your most important factors to stick by. So please don’t give up! Contact your vet for a remedy or some medicine, let them know the steps you have taken and hopefully they can offer you some more help for your hamster.

Recommended Reading:

Conclusion

Suppose allergies are left untreated or unable to resolve. In that case, your hamster could get very sick and be fatal in some extreme cases, so identifying the cause is an essential task for any hamster owner. 

By removing the contact with the allergy-causing culprit will resolve allergies in hamsters. Please bookmark this page, so you can come back to it and continue the steps of elimination. Hopefully, you will have a happy allergy-free hamster. 

The above is applicable to Gerbils and Mice as well

Good luck!

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