Conjunctivitis in Hamsters
Sometimes referred to as “pink eye,” conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the eye's outermost layer. This may be the result of an injury, overgrown or diseased teeth, or teeth that are not aligned properly. Conjunctivitis may also be caused by a bacterial infection or irritation from dust in the bedding.
Although it is not a serious condition, a hamster with conjunctivitis should be treated promptly to prevent any further complications. However, do not self-administer medication as hamsters are extremely sensitive creatures that are likely to develop allergic reactions to certain drugs. Instead, consult your veterinarian as to the best eye drops or ointments for your pet.
- Watery eye discharge (oozing, dripping)
- Prolonged discharge may become more purulent (pus-like)
- Sticky eyelids due to dried up discharge
- Swollen eye (or face in severe cases)
- Redness around the edge of the eyelids
- Injury/bite wounds
- Dental disorders like overgrown teeth, malocclusion
- Bacterial infection
- Irritation from dust in the bedding
Your veterinarian may suspect conjunctivitis by observing the clinical signs exhibited by the hamster. However, an examination of the blood or pus discharge is often necessary to determine if an infectious agent is the underlying cause of the conjunctivitis.
Treatment of conjunctivitis may include antibiotic eye drops and oral antibiotics. Before administering eye drops your veterinarian will clean the affected eye and remove discharge with mild saline eyewash.
Living and Management
As always with hamsters, watch your pet's reactions to the medication carefully. Bring the animal in to see the veterinarian regularly and separate it from other hamsters to prevent it from spreading.
Since conjunctivitis in hamsters may occur as a result of bacterial infections, maintaining cleanliness and regularly sanitizing and disinfecting your hamster’s living area can help reduce the levels of infectious organisms and limit the resulting infections. Also, avoid housing hamsters of different age groups together or overcrowding a cage.