Having a pet hamster can be fun as the little cuties are just so adorable. Known to be delicate and prone to stress and infections, any pet owner should take the necessary measures to keep their hamster as healthy as possible.
One illness hamsters can get is pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis. Pink eye is a fairly common illness in hamsters caused by an infection or irritation of the conjunctiva.
It’s important to know what pink eye in hamsters is along with the signs, causes, and appropriate treatments. Information is power, and such info will enable you to keep your adorable pal healthy and happy.
What is pink eye in hamsters?
Pink eye is an infection or irritation of the conjunctiva, the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, allergies, or other irritants.
It is a result of the conjunctiva becoming inflamed. The blood vessels will become more visible, which gives the eye a pink or red appearance.
Symptoms of pink eye in hamsters
The symptoms of pink eye in hamsters include:
1. Red, pink, or bloodshot eyes
The most notable sign of pink eye in hamsters is the red, pink, or bloodshot eyes. Only one eye will be affected on most occasions, but both eyes can also be affected.
2. Discharge from the eye
Another symptom of conjunctivitis in hamsters is a discharge from the eye. This discharge can be clear, white, yellow, or green. It can also be watery or thick. The discharge can cause the eye to be crusted, especially when your hamster wakes up.
3. Squinting or rubbing the eyes
A hamster squinting or rubbing its eyes could signify they’re in pain or experiencing irritation due to an eye infection, such as pink eye.
Causes of pink eye in hamsters
Pink eye in hamsters is usually caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, allergies, or other irritants. Below we look at each of these.
1. Bacteria and viruses
Bacteria and viruses are the most common cause of pink eye in hamsters. These can be spread through the air, contaminated food or water, or contact with a hamster with pink eye.
Fungi can also cause conjunctivitis in hamsters. These are usually found in damp, dark areas, such as in the bedding of your hamster’s cage.
Allergies are another possible cause of pink eye in hamsters. Allergens that can cause allergies include dust, pollen, and chemicals.
Other possible irritants that can cause pink eye include smoke, wind, and bright light. They can also be caused by foreign bodies, such as pieces of dust or sand.
Diagnosis of pink eye in hamsters
There are noticeable symptoms of pink eye in hamsters such as red or pink eyes, watery or thick discharge, and squinting or rubbing the eye. You need to seek veterinary help for your pet in case you notice any of these symptoms.
Your vet will perform a physical examination of your hamster’s eyes and may also take a swab of the discharge to test for bacteria, viruses, or fungi. They may also perform an allergy test to see if allergies are the cause.
Treatment of pink eye in hamsters
Pink eye in hamsters can be treated in a variety of ways. Below we highlight the most common treatment options.
Your vet will likely prescribe antibiotics if bacteria caused the pink eye. Antibiotics can be given in the form of eye drops or ointment. They treat pink eye by killing the bacteria causing the infection.
Antibiotics also help to reduce the inflammation and pain associated with pink eye. Your hamster may need to take antibiotics for 7-10 days.
Your vet may prescribe corticosteroids if allergies are determined as the cause. The medication can be given in the form of eye drops or ointment. Corticosteroids help to reduce the inflammation and pain associated with pink eye and may be used in conjunction with antibiotics.
Your vet may also recommend vaccinating your hamster, especially if viral infections are a common cause of pink eye in hamsters in your area. Vaccines help to protect your hamster from future infections. Vaccines also help reduce the severity of symptoms if your hamster becomes infected.
Fungicide will be an ideal recommendation if a fungus is the cause of the infection. Fungicides will need to be applied to the affected eye(s) for 7-10 days.
5. Home treatment
In addition to the treatments above, there are also a few things you can do at home to help treat your hamster such as cleaning the cage frequently, washing your hands before and after handling your hamster, and avoiding contact with other hamsters.
FAQs about the pink eye in hamsters
Some of the frequently asked questions about conjunctivitis in hamsters include:
Why does my hamster have pink eye?
The most common cause of pink eye in hamsters is bacteria. However, it can also be caused by viruses, fungi, allergies, or irritants. It’s advisable to take your hamster for a veterinary checkup to know the actual cause of the infection.
Can I get pink eye from my hamster?
Yes, you can get pink eye from your hamster if it’s a bacterial infection. To avoid this, wash your hands before and after handling your hamster and clean their cage frequently.
How long does pink eye last in hamsters?
Pink eye usually lasts for 7 to 10 days. However, it can last longer if it’s not treated properly. Still, the severity of symptoms usually decreases after a few days.
How can I prevent my hamster from getting pink eye?
The best way to prevent your hamster from getting pink eye is to keep their cage clean and wash your hands before and after handling them. You should also avoid contact with other hamsters if possible.
Pink eye is a common eye infection in hamsters. It’s important to take your hamster to the vet if you notice any symptoms so they can be properly diagnosed and treated. There are a variety of treatments available for pink eye, including antibiotics, corticosteroids, vaccines, and fungicides.