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O2010-40

Dear Harry Hamster

My hamster Princess has been drinking and urinating more than usual. My friend thinks she has diabetes, but I’ve never heard of diabetes in a hamster. Is it possible?

Harry Responds

Many diseases, from diabetes to kidney dysfunction, can cause excessive drinking and urination. So have your veterinarian check Princess as soon as possible.

I am a Syrian hamster, also known as a golden hamster. We are the most popular species of hamsters sold in pet stores. Fortunately, we Syrians rarely get diabetes.

However, some hamsters, particularly certain lines of dwarf Russian and Chinese hamsters, are genetically prone to insulin-dependent diabetes.

Clinical signs, in addition to excessive drinking and urination, include lethargy and dehydration.

The disease is diagnosed just as it is in other animals, by finding excessive sugar, or glucose, in the blood and urine.

Most veterinarians recommend a diet high in protein but low in sugar and other simple carbohydrates. My mom feeds me rodent chow and a prepared hamster mix of seeds, grain and alfalfa pellets.

You can supplement Princess’ diet with small amounts of hay, vegetables and a bit of fruit, but don’t give her yogurt drops or other sugary treats.

If Princess does have diabetes, it’s unlikely your veterinarian will recommend insulin injections, because it is impractical to administer insulin to such tiny creatures.

 

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