Congestive heart failure is a condition in which the heart muscles weaken and cannot pump blood efficiently throughout the body. This causes blood to collect in the veins and subsequent edema.
Congestive heart failure is found to occur more frequently in older female hamsters and is often connected with amyloidosis. And though there is no effective treatment for congestive heart failure, your veterinarian might suggest some ways of managing the heart condition, even if it is temporary. But be prepared, the general outcome for hamsters with congestive failure is poor.
In the early stages of congestive heart failure the hamsters have respiratory distress and move about erratically. The heart rate and pulse rate escalate to dangerous levels. Eventually, the skin may begin to take on a blue tint, a sign of cyanosis. Edema and accumulation of fluid in the abdomen may also be evident in some hamsters with congestive heart failure.
Congestive heart failure in hamsters can occur due to various reasons, but the most common among them is diseases of the heart muscles, which prevent the heart from pumping blood normally. Amyloidosis -- in which a waxy translucent substance deposits in a hamster's organs and tissues -- is another cause for congestive heart failure.
Your veterinarian may suspect congestive heart failure by observing the clinical signs exhibited by the hamster. Then, depending on your decision, he or she may conduct various tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment for congestive heart failure. In some cases your veterinarian might administer agents like cardiac glycosides, which have the capacity to improve the contraction of the heart muscles and aid in restoring normal circulation. Diuretic agents like furosemide might also be administered to help overcome edema, if present.
Living and Management
It is essential that you develop a proper dietary strategy suitable for the ailing hamster in consultation with your veterinarian. Typically, salt or food high in salt will be removed from the diet. He or she will also recommend that you place the hamster in a calm environment so that it may rest and reduce the stress on the heart.
There is no way to prevent congestive heart failure in hamsters. However, following the veterinarian's instructions may help manage the situation and prolong the life of your pet hamster.