How to Care for a Sick Hamster

There are few things that are worse than having a sick hamster.  Knowing that your pet is not feeling well is both difficult and upsetting.  Here are some tips to help you try to make your pet feel better.

If you notice your hamster is ill, be sure to quarantine him.  This is a good reason why you should always have a quarantine tank set up.  This makes for quick isolation from the rest of the group.  (Having to either purchase or set up a quarantine tank can cause precious time to be lost, and hamsters often fall prey to illness very quickly.)  Isolation is desirable not only due to the fact that you want to keep your other pets healthy, but keeping your hamster in a quiet area away from others can help speed up his recovery.  Make sure you place your quarantine tank in a location away from other pets, other family members, bright light and noise.

Feeding: Sick hamsters often stop eating.  This can be fatal due to their small size.  Hamsters need to eat regularly so they can fight off infection and recover from their illness.  You can move their food dish closer to where they sleep so that they can reach it more easily.  You can also offer higher-calorie, easily eaten foods to help them keep up their calorie intake.  Hard-boiled or scrambled eggs (in small amounts), small bits of cooked chicken, and baby food (fruits or vegetables) can be offered.  Feed the baby food through a medicine dropper or an eye dropper.  If your hamster seems to be very hungry, keep feeding for a while, and then take a break then try to feed some more.  Do not let him eat and eat without a break.  It might make him worse.

Water: Liquids are even more important for your pet hamster.  Move the water bottle closer to where your hamster is sleeping, so he can drink more easily.  If your hamster is very weak, you can offer water via an eye dropper a small amount at a time.  You can also offer a weak solution of unflavored electrolyte (half water, half electrolyte solution).

Keeping your pet comfortable: Sometimes, when a hamster is not well, not eating and not drinking, he can become chilled.  This can even cause a hamster to go into hibernation.  You want to keep your hamster warm, but not too warm (which can lead to death by heatstroke).  Provide plenty of plain, unscented toilet paper.  You can tear it into strips for him.  He will use it to make a warm nest and curl up in it.  This can help him fight the cold feeling of the illness.

Limiting your pet’s activity: At times, it might be necessary to remove your hamster’s exercise wheel until he is feeling better.  Hamsters are known to exercise when ill, and this can actually result in injury or dehydration in your pet.

As always, contact your pet’s veterinarian if you have any concerns about your hamster, especially if your pet does not improve or gets worse.

23 Comments on "How to Care for a Sick Hamster"

  1. This was very helpful, My hamster has an URI and she has been cold. I gave her a little bit of water from eye dropper, and I was wondering what would be the best to feed her since she isnt eating her hard food. Also she is wobbly and weak and i have had her in a blanket on my lap and she seems to have perked up a little bit. I feel to bad I don’t want to put her bck in her cage. Any help would be great. Also she saw a vet the first signs of being sick and is on medicantion.

  2. I agree, the easiest thing to predict if the hamster sick is when we saw they did not want to eat

  3. My hamster suddenly fell I’ll last night. Wobbly and weak too. His bedding was stuck on his number and hardened by dried up diarrhea. He had rectal bleeding upon removing the gunk. All he did was fall asleep anywhere and hunched over. We took him to vet ER overnight. Antibiotics and formula food were given. A dose of liquid injection was also given to rehydrate him. He was much more energetic within 6 hours. His old habits are coming back but still not eating his nut mix. He is drinking by himself. Only a year old. A lot of life left in him!

  4. My hamster has not been drinking from her water bottle for about a week or two. She is now sick and is losing hair around her eyes. She is also damp around her face. She has not been using her wheel lately. I think she will be ok because she is unusually active for a hamster in her condition.

  5. My daughter as a Russian dwarf hamster. Last night we cleaned his cage an he seems to be so distressed normally he would run about then dig the saw dust the side his wheel then climbs awkwardly up the side to his food. This time he started going round an round on circles throwing him self backwards an seems to be walking to one side. U though my be the change of the cage with being clean but he as never acted this way before. This went on for over an hr so I cover the cage with a towel to help calm him down he never touched any his water nor food at this point. When u went back to check on him he was cowered on the corner shaking an flinching an laying over just vitamin stone normally he would you to his hide away he always in there. But this time he never even bothered. It add all Nice soft bedding. My partner was up early this morning an said he was still going mad. He in now in hide away an I can see he as made a dig at the food as he as made a little mess. Am scared too look to see he is ok an alive. But I don’t wanna disturbed him if he is just sleeping. What should I do..I will have a very unhappy 6 year old if she new he was unwell

    Thanks jen.
    He is less then 1 year old

  6. PoppyDxx | 12/11/2016 at 12:31 am |

    My Hampster is really worrying me now, Ge has lost a vast amount of weight and has diarrhoea ; He isn’t eating as normal but he is still drinking lots,He is about 2 years old now so what shall I do?😥 Please reply if u have any tips

  7. i just got my hamster about a week ago and i have a religion not to pay or go to the store on Sunday. Of corse my hamster got redicleosly sick on Sunday and she can even walk properly. She also won’t eat or drink,she’s laying down and won’t open her eyes. Im really worried. What do I do? Please help me!!

  8. My Hampster is really worrying me now, Ge has lost a vast amount of weight and has diarrhoea ; He isn’t eating as normal but he is still drinking lots,He is about 2 years old now so what shall I do?

  9. My hamster can’t walk and sleeping a lot she’s also not eating but still breathing. What should I do?

  10. My daughter as a Russian dwarf hamster name ZINC Recently he started going round an round on circles throwing him self backwards an seems to be walking to one side and not looking like before why he doing like this can you advise. My kids are very much attached to him they are worried

  11. Chloe sghysfvjhffv | 09/07/2017 at 12:56 pm |

    My Russian duearf hamster has recently started to be sick so all of its dry food is coming back up what should I do

  12. This didn’t help at all. I tried all these ways but not one came into action and helped.

  13. prejvel | 26/10/2017 at 5:07 pm |

    My hamster is not eating or drinking its only lying in one place

  14. One of my Russian dwarf hamsters has gone weak and skinny , bent over , eyes paws and is trying to drink but appears not to have the energy, he is not interested in food and can’t run away as fast, I’ve tried giving him water through a sringe but didn’t give much affect don’t have the money or time to go to the vet so I think I’m just gunna be waiting till he passes unfortunately and I very much hope the other one doesn’t fall I’ll beacuse of it but I’m keeping them together because that seems best at the moment

  15. Kayleigh | 26/05/2018 at 3:47 am |

    My hamster fell ill a couple of weeks ago, been vets and he’s been on medication for chest infection … He has been drinking up until today but I gave him some through a dropper which seemed to make him worse… Then he fell to the bottom of his cage and has been in the corner hurled over struggling to breath ? His breathing has been funny for a while hence the vets decision to treat him for chest infection … Please help !?

  16. My hamster was breathing funny for about 5 weeks now.But now her ear has curled over and has closed up. Have not taken her to vets because my mum thinks it is old age I do not think it is. What are your thoughts?

  17. I see a lots of questions , and no answers. Is anybody helping here. My 2 yers old hamster got sick yesterday. He start eat a little bit today, but I don’t see him to pee. I don’t know, how to help him.

  18. my year old hamster is skinny and cold he wont blink and his eyes are bloodshot we cant pay for the vet so we will stay with him till he passes 🙁

  19. just found that my hamster ate clover do not make the same mistake that i did because it is death causing

  20. Electricjaws | 05/10/2019 at 1:03 pm |

    To be honest the first sign of illness you should rush your hammy to the vet! Not sit around on forums , asking questions, people on here are not qualified vets if a hamster is suffering and ill you know you should take it to the vet surely ?!!

  21. Anna marie Chapman | 16/10/2019 at 12:03 am |

    My hamster is losing weight he’s been crying in his bed he’s nearly two now and I don’t know what to do he looks poorly

  22. Mary anne Kociper | 28/11/2020 at 1:18 pm |

    Im not a qualified vet but all of these situations need urgent vet care. Till then you may feed baby food and give small sips of water till he/she is doagnosd. My hamster has pneumonia. Was prescribed antibiotics. Also has a serious eye infection. Eye drops twice a day. Dont know if she will pull through.

  23. Our hamster of about a month and a half has fallen ill. He’s not active anymore, ears are pressed back, looks like diarrhea, hunched back, acting aggressive. I started noticing something off 4 days ago. He is eating some food now and I think drinks water. My kids had the flu recently so I’ve thought maybe that or wet tail (which I’m already giving him over the counter meds for). My husband won’t let me take him to the vet but just need advice on how best to help him

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