Why Is My Hamster Peeling & Losing Hair?

Written by veronica davis
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Why Is My Hamster Peeling & Losing Hair?
You hamster could be losing hair for many reasons. (hamster image by Vasiliy Koval from Fotolia.com)

Hamsters, like all living things, can have health issues that impact part or all of their bodies. Hamster skin problems and hair loss are not uncommon. The possible causes of peeling skin and hair loss in hamsters can be attributed to a handful of different problems. Knowing some of the causes and symptoms can help the hamster's owner seek help sooner rather than later.

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Mites

Mites are a cause of peeling skin and hair loss in hamsters. Mites often are seen as small dots on the skin and hair of the hamster. The mites will cause intense itching that will cause the hamster to scratch, causing peeling skin, scabs and hair loss. The hamster should be isolated until veterinary care can be sought.

Mange

Many people associate mange with dogs and cats, but hamsters can get it, too. This skin infectionis caused by mites and often results in dry, flaky, peeling skin as well as hair loss and scabs. Mange is very contagious; hamsters that have these symptoms should be isolated from other animals and should be treated immediately by a veterinarian.

Demodicosis is a disease that is caused by two different varieties of mites with the most common symptoms being scaly skin and hair loss. Males generally get this disease more often than females. Prompt treatment by a veterinarian is important for effective treatment.

Sarcoptic mange is a very rare type of mange in hamsters, but it is very contagious. This is caused by the same mite that causes scabies in humans. The mites make the hamster very itchy, causing peeling, scaly skin and hair loss. The mites need to be treated by a veterinarian and all bedding needs to be sterilised to prevent a second re-infestation.

Ringworm

Hamsters may suffer from hair loss, and peeling and dry skin when they are infected with ringworm. Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection that is common in plastic enclosed cages. The hamster will need to be taken to the veterinarian to diagnose the ringworm. The bedding and cage also will need to be sterilised, and the hamster will need to be treated with an iodine shampoo. All care should be done under the advice of a qualified veterinarian.

Food Allergies

Food allergies are another condition that causes dry, peeling skin among other symptoms such as watery eyes, sneezing and more. Hamsters are very sensitive to changes in diet, so if you have introduced a new food and you begin seeing the symptoms, you'll want to do away with it. If you are unsure of what is causing the food allergies, you may want to consult your vet about changes you should make.

Bedding Sensitivities

Bedding allergies are very common and may cause dry, itchy and even peeling skin. If you notice these symptoms, a great place to start is with the bedding. Remove all cedar and pine shavings as these are common causes of itchy, peeling skin in hamsters. Other bedding products that are usually more tolerable for hamsters with allergies include aspen, eco-straw pellets, newspaper, or even tissue or toilet paper.

Normal Hair Loss

Some hair loss is normal in hamsters, so if there are no other symptoms other than hair loss you may not need to worry. This hair loss is seen in hamsters that are 10 to 12 months of age and will usually start near the tail region and work its way up to the head. The hair will slowly be replaced over time. If a hamster is less than six months of age when this occurs, your hamster should be seen by a veterinarian.

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