Amyloidosis is a condition in which the body produces sheets of a dense protein called amyloid. As the protein gets deposited throughout the body, it prevents the organs from functioning normally. If the amyloid reaches the kidneys, it can cause renal failure, which is fatal.
Amyloidosis typically affects females that at least one-year-old; however, hamsters with long-term illnesses can also develop the disease. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for amyloidosis except to make the hamster more comfortable by giving it fluids and other supplements as supportive therapy.
Symptoms and Types
Hamsters with amyloidosis do not usually appear sick until it affects their kidneys, causing a buildup of chemicals in the blood. Once that occurs, generalized edema sets in and fluid accumulates in the abdomen. Other symptoms associated with amyloidosis include:
- Loss of appetite (anorexia)
- Rough hair coat
- Urine appears cloudy and turbid
- Difficulty breathing
Amyloidisis occurs due to the deposition of amyloid in various internal organs, especially the kidneys.
Clinical symptoms exhibited by your hamster may lead your veterinarian to suspect amyloidosis. He or she will typically conduct various laboratory tests to confirm the diagnosis. Blood tests, for example, will show an increase in the proteins albumin and globulin as well as a high cholesterol level, and urine tests will reveal an abnormal amount of protein.
There is no treatment for amyloidosis, except to make the hamster more comfortable by giving it fluids and other supplements.
Living and Management
Consult your veterinarian about the special dietary requirements of your ailing pet and take steps to monitor it closely for signs of health complications. The doctor will also recommend regular visits to assess the hamster's condition.
Prevention is not a viable strategy for amyloidosis. However, because amyloid deposition is likely to develop in hamsters with long-term illness, promptly diagnosing and treating ailments will make them less prone to the disease.
Featured Image: iStockPhoto.com/EVGENY BUNIN
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