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Tsukino_Rei

Elderly Hamster Care Tips

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(Always check with a vet asap if your hamster is unwell. Illnesses progress very quickly in small animals. But if the diagnosis is creeping old age then try some of the tips below.)

1. If possible, use a single level cage as climbing can become more difficult and tiring as they get older. Otherwise, make sure all the important things are on the bottom level of the cage. ie, water bottle, litter box, house, and food dish.

2. If your hamsters fur looks a bit dull, or he is a bit low on energy (aside from checking with your vet) try adding more nuts and seeds to the diet. Sunflower seeds are my hamsters favourite. The added natural oils in their diet seems to brighten them up. If this doesn't work as well as you'd like, or you notice some fur thinning try a little bit of dried bread with a drop or two of cod-liver oil.

3. Extra cuddles! This is the time when hamsters really begin to appreciate sharing their owners body warmth, maybe sitting on the sofa with you while you watch TV. Rubbing along the back and around the joints in slow circular motions can lull my hamster for up to an hour, sometimes more. This helps with the stiffness that the elderly are prone to, and so helps our furry friends to get around their cages with a bit more ease.

4. Daily Health Checks! Cuddle time can also be used to give your hamster a quick health check. Check their teeth to see that they are not becoming overgrown. Some hamsters have difficult chewing in their old age. You or your vet can manually trim the teeth when this happens. Fortunately I've not faced that issue yet! Also check eye brightness, and check the bottom and urinary area for any signs of infection. Generally, if the hamster has bright eyes, is curious, and is eating there should be no cause for concern.

5. Cage checks. Things to watch out for when you are cleaning out the cage are; is the litterbox filling more quickly, is the water bottle emptying more quickly (these can be signed of diabetes), is his dry food/nuts not being eaten? (This can be a sign of a tooth problem, in which case check his teeth)

6. Alternative food. If your hamster is unable to manage is normal food mix, because chewing is too much effort or because of a problem with his teeth, alternatives include; Oatmeal, or a variety of baby foods. At this point gently warming the food will most likely be appreciated.

7. If your elderly hamster is normally very relaxed with you, then starts acting a bit frantic like he's looking for something, I suggest giving him a little break in his cage. I learned the hard way that my little boys bladder control just isn't what it used to be. =o) -. incidentally, at any age this is often sign that a foraging instinct has kicked in. Check the cage to see if he/she has run low on water, or food, check the litter box to see if it's been filled up already, and finally offer your hammie some clean bedding to pouch and carry home. Odds are high that he or she is looking for one of those things.

8. When it's time, let the hamster go peacefully. When you take your hamster to the vet for the last time you will be asked to sign a form giving permission for the hamster to be put to sleep. It's not very expensive. Most vets offer special lower rates for small animals. First the hamster will be given an anaesthetic. Then a lethal injection. This is normally done in another room.

The most recent hammie that I had to have put down was a sweet girl named Kaylee. She had organ failure. The vet had said she might have a couple of weeks before her final appointment, but it progressed faster than expected, as these things often do with small animals. She'd already had two months of steady appointments. It started with a sniffle, progressed to a flu. This progressed to an infection. The bad luck was that this particular infection was a strain which shared a very similar protein to her own nervous system. So the anti-biotic to treat the illness also damaged her nervous system. This is a known condition in hamsters. The net result was partial paralysis in her hind legs, followed by kidney failure, followed by total organ failure. Through all this there as no sign that she was in pain, and she still enjoyed time out and cuddles, so the vet didn't recommend lethal injection yet, but expected it would be some time within the next two weeks. Sadly over the weekend she took a turn for the worst. I spent two nights sitting with her, moved her cage into the bedroom so I could watch her while I was laying down. Heated up my microwaveable bean bags and set them around the corner of the cage where she slept. I practically had her on life support. When she was thirsty I had to hold her up and hold the bottle for her because she couldn't lift herself to reach the cage. She needed help to get into her litter box and back out again. I had to hold the oatmeal up to her mouth to help her eat. I couldn't bring myself to stop doing these things for her because I didn't want her to suffer. When I was finally able to get her to the vet on Monday morning she didn't even get as far as the lethal injection. The anaesthetic overwhelmed her.

I tell that story to try to convey to you that, while it's a difficult and horrible thing to have to do, putting your pet to sleep when it is time and is recommended by your vet is an act of love.

Edited by Tsukino_Rei

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oh, I am so sorry for your loss, so sad- but she evidently spent her life with the hamster whisperer, lucky one :)

such a wonderful informative post too. the little ones (especially) deserve a careful and knowledgable eye

and yes, letting them go to the next step on their journey is a kindness, so hard but so the right thing sometimes

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Tsukino....so sorry to hear of your loss, and yes, I have to agree with Grateful, it sounds like your little lovey had good years with the "Hamster Whisperer"! Good advice for any type of pet owner.

Many Blessings and Condolences,

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Sorry to hear about your hamster loss Tsukino. My godchild is on her 4th hamster now and she'll love your info. Shes an only child with few friends except for her poor hamster Rover who gets loved a little too much. We had the poor little guy going through mazes and cardboard playgrounds we made for it Saturday.

Edited by Fawzo

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Thank you guys. :wub: I appreciate your support! And I bet Rover eats up all that play time, Fawzo.

I've had six hamsters over the years, most of them female. My current little guy is the one that's teaching me more about hamster old age than any other hamster I've had. He's three and half years old! For a species that normally lives to the ripe old age of two he's incredible. His energy is still good, now that I give him the cod-liver oil, but if you look at his face really closely you can see little wrinkles under his fur. It's so hard knowing his days are numbered. Especially since he was super hyper and loved to just explore all over the place when he was young, and then just as I had my miscarriage he suddenly became very cuddly and began to cuddle against my arm and let me stroke him while I watch TV throughout my sleepless nights. Anytime he heard me enter the room he just came out to his door and waited expectantly. He has been the best, most supportive, fuzzy companion a girl could hope for.

Edited by Tsukino_Rei

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Does your friend eat its sunflower seeds without you cracking them out of the shell. My Godchild gets me to help her crack all the seeds for hers because she says the poor little thing only has two teeth lol

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Argh, I just accidentally deleted a really long post with the back button on my mouse! :wall:

I need to go restore my chi, do some chores, and be back in the evening to try again!

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Okeedoke. To shell or not to shell, that is the question. :derisive:

The answer is I give both shelled nuts and seeds, and unshelled nuts and seeds.

A good reason for giving some unshelled (I have a bag of pre-shelled seeds) would be to encourage the hamster to eat more of them with less effort. Another good reason is to keep the cage tidier/free of an excess of shells.

But it is also a good idea to provide some food that he/she has to work for, both because it's fun for them and because it's good for their teeth to have more grinding to do. Hamster teeth are constantly growing, and when they don't have enough to gnaw on or if there is problem with their teeth they can grow until they can't close their mouths and even grow painfully through the roof of their mouth. I hide peanuts in their shells in his hay throughout the cage, his food mix includes some sunflower seeds in their shells, and every now and then I like to give my hamster a walnut. They'll spend a couple of days working on it, then I crack it a bit for them and they can do the rest. A hamsters teeth is not strong enough to get into a walnut on their own, but some of them sure will try. >.< Although I did have one little girl, Maggie, figure out that if she just left it alone I'd open it for her. Then she started bringing her peanuts to me to open as well. Lazy cow.

So I guess it does also depend on personality. But most of my hamsters have made a game of getting into the nuts themselves. Of course, when a hamster gets older they can need more help with things like that. But until then it's good for their mental and physical health to keep doing some things for themselves.

Another good activity to give a hamster to do is make their own bed.

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I don't know if it's "right or wrong" but the only hamster I ever had, my g'ma and I put wood shavings (not saw dust) from Poppy's workshop, some bits of cloth and paper and one of those old "big" match boxes was her 'den'....I don't know how long it took as I had to go to bed, but when I woke in the morning...she was zonked out inside the box that she had stuffed with avail materials.

I traded some of Mormor's (g'ma) cookies and rye bread/cheese sammich to a kid at school for hamster and cage/water bottle and only had her for a couple of days as I traded her for my rat "Charlie" that lived to be "ancient" at a little over 3yrs.

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and how does one do that :)?

I separate out the bits of beddings and hand it to him/her. They just stuff as much as they can in their cheeks then toddle off to unstuff their cheeks and arrange their bed how they like it. I put a bit of extra bedding in the cage for them to find and add to their bed later. My hamsters have really enjoyed this ritual as it satisfies part of their foraging instinct. I can often tell when they fancy more bedding as they snuffle around looking for it when they sit with me.

I don't know if it's "right or wrong" but the only hamster I ever had, my g'ma and I put wood shavings (not saw dust) from Poppy's workshop, some bits of cloth and paper and one of those old "big" match boxes was her 'den'....I don't know how long it took as I had to go to bed, but when I woke in the morning...she was zonked out inside the box that she had stuffed with avail materials.

I traded some of Mormor's (g'ma) cookies and rye bread/cheese sammich to a kid at school for hamster and cage/water bottle and only had her for a couple of days as I traded her for my rat "Charlie" that lived to be "ancient" at a little over 3yrs.

I think that different hamsters have different preferences, if your hammy was happy (and it sounds like your hammy was happy) then you did the right thing! I had a bad experience with a bag of store bought scented shavings, and have been scared to use it ever since. But that's just me.

Edited by Tsukino_Rei

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sister of my best frie d grwin g up had hamsters a lot. she had like 8or9 at one time in cages all over her room. i know no matter wha t she did to make them comfort they would always change it. it always made jen so mad when they didn t like her arangment. she put it back then they would then she would. it always cracked us up how mad she would get but she did always love the littl e things to death. when they would die she would make coffins out of cardboard and every one had to attend the funera l. her dad would dig a hole in the back yard and she tended to all her litle wood markers. but i prefer animals i can inneract with take for walks chase balls and the like. no such thing as to big a dog for me.

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sister of my best frie d grwin g up had hamsters a lot. she had like 8or9 at one time in cages all over her room. i know no matter wha t she did to make them comfort they would always change it. it always made jen so mad when they didn t like her arangment. she put it back then they would then she would. it always cracked us up how mad she would get but she did always love the littl e things to death. when they would die she would make coffins out of cardboard and every one had to attend the funera l. her dad would dig a hole in the back yard and she tended to all her litle wood markers. but i prefer animals i can inneract with take for walks chase balls and the like. no such thing as to big a dog for me.

Hamsters are surprisingly interactive. There's one game in particular that every young mammal I've met, from hamsters, to kittens, puppies and humans will play. They all love to run up to my feet, tag them, play with them, and run away again. Then come back, tag, play, and run away again. For a hamster that means rolling up to you in their ball, bumping into your feet, being picked up and put down again with a gleeful sound effect, (such as wheeeee!) and then rolling away and coming back to do it again. It's amazing how they react to tone of voice. If I clap my hands and say 'wheee, wanna play! Is it play time?' in a silly voice I've seen some hamsters literally dance in place in front of their door, or get so excited they're not sure what to do with themselves, like a puppy dancing back and forth.

I must admit though, I've never trained a hamster to fetch, and they can't keep up with me if I go for a jog. :derisive:

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sister of my best frie d grwin g up had hamsters a lot. she had like 8or9 at one time in cages all over her room. i know no matter wha t she did to make them comfort they would always change it. it always made jen so mad when they didn t like her arangment. she put it back then they would then she would. it always cracked us up how mad she would get but she did always love the littl e things to death. when they would die she would make coffins out of cardboard and every one had to attend the funera l. her dad would dig a hole in the back yard and she tended to all her litle wood markers. but i prefer animals i can inneract with take for walks chase balls and the like. no such thing as to big a dog for me.

hamsters practise fung shui.

unless you learn that they will never be satisfied.

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I am sorry to hear about your loss of a good friend Tsukino. No matter if great or small, the animals that touch our lives shall always be special in our hearts and memories.

Blessings of Healing and Peace,

Al

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