Hamsters have terrible eyesight and mainly depend on their scent to find their way around. However, their eyes are prone to many eye problems, including infections, cataracts, sticky eyes, and eye bulging.
But can an eye infection kill a hamster? Yes, an eye infection may kill your pet rodent, but in rare cases, especially when left untreated. In most cases, your hamster will likely die from the infection due to another underlying medical condition. Generally, eye infections in hamsters only lead to complications like permanent vision loss.
So then, what causes eye infections in hamsters, and how do you treat them? Go ahead and read our guide to find out this.
Can An Eye Infection Kill A Hamster?
The answer is yes, but in rare cases. Often, your hamster will die from an eye infection if it already has another underlying health condition like:
- Wet tail disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Abdominal mass
- Polycystic disease
Generally, most eye infections, including conjunctivitis in hamsters, are unlikely to be life-threatening. These infections only lead to severe complications, especially when left untreated.
The most common complications are blindness in both eyes and removal of the eye because of the eye globe rupturing. Also, the infection can cause significant discomfort, stress, and pain to your pet rodent. Therefore, as soon as you suspect your pet has an infection in the eye, you should take it to the veterinarian.
What Causes Eye Infection In Hamsters?
The causes of eye infections in hamsters vary from case to case. Let’s check out the common causes.
If you keep your pet rodents in a moist and dirty cage, fungus and bacteria may grow in their toys and bedding. Eventually, these bacteria may spread into your hamsters’ eyes as they groom themselves, causing an eye infection.
Sometimes, a foreign object, such as small stones, dust, or substrate, may enter your hamster’s eye. Such an object may cause abrasions in the cornea, also known as a cornea ulcer, resulting in irritation and eye infections.
Your hamster may injure its eye by bumping into something or while fighting with another hamster. If the injury is not treated as soon as possible, it may lead to an eye infection.
Some hamsters may be allergic to their cage bedding or microscopic dust mites when exposed to a dusty environment. In this case, your pet rodent may suffer from allergic conjunctivitis, which is an infection or inflammation of the conjunctiva.
How To Tell If Your Hamster Has Eye Infection?
Knowing if your pet rodent has an infection can help prevent serious complications like vision loss. This is because your hamster will get treated as soon as possible. So, below are the symptoms of a hamster eye infection.
- Eyes becoming red and swelling
- Presence of green or yellow pus
- Scratching around the face or eyes due to irritation
- Closing or squinting the eyes
- Watery or cloudy eyes
- Crusting around the eyes
What Should You Do About Your Hamster’s Eye Infection?
Once you realize your hamster has an eye infection, you should take the pet to the vet for a proper diagnosis. The vet may do the following:
Clean the Eye
The vet will start by cleaning your hamster’s infected eye using a saline eye wash to eliminate any discharge. This is to allow ease of administering any medication.
After cleaning the infected eye, the vet may prescribe eye drops or oral antibiotics to help clear the infection. The vet may also administer pain relief medication to minimize any discomfort your pet may be experiencing.
The vet may have to remove the infected eye if the infection does not go away and becomes severe. This prevents the inflammation from spreading to the other eye and causing serious complications.
Can You Treat a Hamster’s Eye Infection At Home?
Yes, you can if the infection is not severe. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to treat your hamster’s eye infection.
Step 1: Quarantine the Hamster
Immediately separate it from other hamsters and pets. This is to ensure your hamster does not spread the infection.
Step 2: Make a Saline Solution
To prepare the saline solution, fill about 4 cups of warm water in a bowl. Then, add 2 teaspoons of table salt to the water and let it dissolve.
Water and salt mixed act as a natural antiseptic and may help kill harmful bacteria in your hamster’s eye.
Step 3: Clean the Infected Eye
Get someone to hold your hamster still. Then, take a clean cotton ball or bud and dip it in your saline solution. Don’t let it drip.
Next, wipe your hamster’s eye with the cotton ball to remove the pus. Get another clean cotton ball and wipe the eye until there is no more discharge.
Step 4: Monitor Your Hamster
Once you are done, let your pet rodent back in its quarantine cage. Then, keep checking on your hamster and clean the eye any time you notice pus forming. This should help prevent the infection from spreading further.
However, you must prepare a new saline solution every day. And if the infection does not go away in a week, you should immediately see a vet.
Can You Prevent Eye Infections in Hamsters?
Yes, but only in some cases. Below are tips on how to protect your hamster from recurring eye infections.
- Make sure to clean and sanitize your pet’s cage regularly
- Clean the toys and bedding regularly to get rid of dust
- Remove any objects or toys with rough or sharp edges from the cage to minimize injuries
- Avoid housing more than hamsters in a small cage to prevent fights that could result in injuries
- Wash around your hamster’s eyes regularly to get rid of fluid buildup
Before we conclude, let’s look at commonly asked questions regarding whether an eye infection can kill a hamster.
Q: Do hamsters keep one eye closed when having eye infections?
No. Your hamster will keep one of its eyes closed due to a medical condition known as a Sticky eye. This condition is usually accompanied by crust around the eye.
Q: How long does a hamster’s eye infection take to get better?
This depends on the cause and the seriousness of the infection. But in most cases, the condition should heal in a week with the right treatment. However, severe infections may take two weeks or more to heal.
Q: Can hamster eye infections heal on their own?
No. However, the infections may go away without using oral antibiotics or eye drops. You just need to wipe the infected eye constantly using a cotton bud and saline solution.
While an eye infection may not kill a hamster, your pet rodent may develop severe complications if left untreated. Some of the causes of eye infections in hamsters are caused by an injury, allergic reaction, bacteria, or foreign object.
Now, you can tell whether your hamster has an eye infection if the eyes are swollen, red, watery, and have pus. If you notice these signs, you should immediately take your hamster to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment. Alternatively, you can treat the infection at home if it is minor using a saline solution.