"She has lost 8 grams
in weight," the slim young lady said as she presented
the dwarf hamster now weighing 86 grams. A normal weight
will be around 45 grams.
4 weeks ago, I treated this hamster with
anti-inflammatory injection and oral follow up. Her
lower groin was inflamed and had become hairless, both
backsides were balding and she had red itchy elbows and
hock joints (see image taken today, post later).
Today, Oct 3, 2011, some hairs had grown back on the
groin area which was pink but the owner could not
recall. "It was red and hairless," I said. "I did not
take pictures at that time."
"What is the cause of itchy elbows and hocks, all 4 red
and the hamster keeps biting the skin of the 4 joints?"
"It is likely an allergy to the environment or food," I
said. "You had removed the original bedding and
replacing with tissue paper. But your food remains the
The lady showed me the hamster's food in a small plastic
bag. "There is a small bone which is not normally given
to hamsters," I said. "Does it contain milk? Could this
be the cause of the allergy?"
"This bone is for the hamster to wear her teeth and get
calcium," she said. "It is meant for the dog." It was an
attractive small bone-shaped piece probably made for a
hamster to gnaw and enjoy life.
Oats, grains, flaxseed and broccoli have been fed to
this overweight hamster, but no more sunflower seeds
now. "I give her less sunflower seeds and that is why
she has lost weight."
I suggested removing the bone and giving another type of
feed that excludes grains. "What will the hamster eat if
she has no grains and the bone? She can't be eating
vegetables as she will get diarrhoea."
"One sunflower seed, some fresh melon seeds, apple
seeds, apples, broccoli and oats," I said.
"I must buy water melons everyday to give her the
seeds?" she asked. "She will grow fat if she eats
"There needs to be a change of diet for a month to
eliminate cause of allergy," I said. "Otherwise, the
steroids will not work forever. You have stopped the
oral steroids for the past 2 weeks and the itchy joints
come back again."
"The last time you gave an injection into the skin on
the back, my hamster had bruises," the young lady gave
me a feedback. Her lady friend stood outside the Surgery
as she was allergic inside.
"I need to give an injection today to reduce quickly the
itchiness," I said. "Normally I don't give injections to
hamsters but oral medication. Some hamsters feel the
pain of injection."
I took some images to document the case. Four itchy
joints remind me of a baby boy of less than one year
old. He scratched his elbows many times leading to an
elbow eczema. Whenever he was free and babies are always
free as you don't expect them to do things, he would use
his fingers and scratch his elbows. The elbows became
red. I can't recall whether he also scratched his ankle
or not. The ankle is equivalent to this dwarf hamster's
hock. But I remembered the doctor as saying that I
should buy baby hand gloves so that the baby can't
scratch his elbows with his fingers! I had to switch
from cow's milk to soya bean milk.
Well, the baby stopped scratching after switching to
soya bean milk. That was in 1986 and this baby is now 25
years old and has no joint skin itchiness. I guess he
can't drink cow's milk.
This dwarf hamster appears to have a similar problem as
she keeps licking her elbows and hock joints inflaming
and swelling the skin.
We will wait and see the next 4 weeks after elimination
of the dog's "bone" and diet changes.
I had another similar
case of joint skin inflammation in a dwarf hamster some
years ago. The young lady did not return after oral
anti-inflammatory and I did not follow up. I presumed no
news is good news. Will check for and post this image
Below is how I try to teach two Temasek Polytechnic
students at my Surgery in Oct 2011, how to write a
script to produce a video for the AVA Responsible Pet
Roadshow 2011 on Nov 12 and 13.
example of how to produce an
documentary video for pet