As hamsters age, they face a number of diseases and conditions. The life cycle of a hamster is about two to three years, and after reaching one year of age, the hamster begins the old phase of its life. Fur loss, vision problems and cardiac conditions are common signs that a hamster is nearing the end of its life cycle.
Hair loss in hamsters is a primary sign of old age, starting around the time the hamster is one year old. The coat begins to thin at the rear of the hamster, then moves up the hind legs and to the hips. Eventually, the hair loss will cover the entire body. A thinning coat is usually a linked with kidney failure, another sign of old age in a hamster.
Cardiac thrombosis, blood clots in the heart, is a common condition in older hamsters. The blood clots usually develop in the left side of the heart, and they may be caused by heart failure, a bacterial infection or amyloidosis. Though a veterinarian can treat the signs of cardiac thrombosis, such as a bacterial infection, there is no cure for the condition.
Amyloidosis is the deposition of protein in a hamster's body organs. Like cardiac thrombosis, amyloidosis is a common disease in old hamsters. The protein produced by the body primarily deposits in the liver and kidney. As a result of the protein build-up, the hamster experiences liver and kidney failure. As with cardiac thrombosis, there is no cure for amyloidosis.
Cataracts are an eye disease that makes the eye become opaque. Depending on the severity of the disease, the hamster may suffer from partial, severe or complete vision loss. The cataracts may appear totally opaque or milky in colour, and there is no treatment for them. This disease is normal for older hamsters, and while it may impact their vision, it's doesn't cause a great handicap to their daily lives.
As hamsters age, dental problems may become a persistent problem for them. Brittle teeth may continuously break off. Broken teeth make eating and maintaining proper nutrition difficult. Hamsters suffering from this condition should be fed soft foods, such as scrambled eggs and hamster mix softened with water.