What Is Hamster Bumblefoot?

As hamster owners, we need to diligently monitor our hamsters daily, at least once a day.

Hamsters are susceptible to a lot of health problems and since they are small animals, things can go south very quickly. Even a cold can be fatal.

Early detection can usually make a difference to the treatment. One such example is known as hamster bumblefoot.

What Is Hamster Bumblefoot?

Hamsters are really active animals and spend most of their awake running and burrowing in their cage. As a result, they are at a higher risk of cutting themselves by accident, especially their footpads.

Bacteria can then enter the wound, resulting in infection. This bacterial infection is known as hamster bumblefoot (ulcerative pododermatitis).

If left untreated, the infection may spread to other tissues and bones. In the worst situations, it may be fatal.

Symptoms of Bumblefoot in Hamsters

Thankfully, it is quite easy to spot the symptoms. Bumblefoot in hamsters typically progresses through three stages.

In the first stage, the affected foot may appear slightly red and inflamed. You should identify what is causing their damaged footpad and remove it immediately. At this stage, a trip to the vet is not necessary as you will be able to manage the symptoms at home.

In the second stage, the footpad will become more red and may become swollen. The footpad is now more prone to bacteria infection. You need to stop any home remedy and bring your hammy to the vet immediately.

In the third and final stage, the inflammation will appear dark red. The footpad may also discharge pus. Your hamster may have difficulty walking.

How to Treat Bumblefoot in Hamsters?

If you have identified the bumblefoot to be in the second or third stage, you should bring your hamster to the vet immediately for assessment.

The vet may prescribe antibiotics or ointments to soothe the affected foot. 

Early treatment can significantly improve the chances of a full recovery and prevent further complications. In severe cases, surgery or amputation may be required.

How to Treat Bumblefoot in Hamsters At Home?

Here are some recommended ways you can try at home to treat or to speed up the healing process.

Cleaning the Affected Foot Twice a Day

If there are no open wounds, cleaning their foot with a mild antiseptic solution may help prevent spreading infections.

Make sure to avoid using harsh or irritating solutions, as these can further damage the affected foot and worsen the condition.

Simply soak a cotton ball with the antiseptic solution to clean the foot and gently pat the affected area. Dry it off with a clean cloth.

You may also opt to apply a bandage around the affected area.

Repeat this twice a day.

Improve Their Living Conditions

If your hamster suffers from cuts and scrapes, you must identify what is causing it.

Look out for any sharp objects and remove them immediately.

During the healing process, you can also help to reduce pressure on the affected foot.

Give your hammy sufficient soft bedding and you can consider shredding toilet paper to further enhance the cushioning.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a potential treatment as it can reduce inflammation and boost healing.

However, note that vitamin C isn’t a proven treatment for bumblefoot and more research is needed.

Nevertheless, vitamin C is generally good for your hamster’s overall well-being.

Listed below are some common but unorthodox methods, which I personally don’t recommend.

Manuka Honey

Some recommend using manuka honey due to its antibacterial properties, which may help treat skin infections.

However, its effectiveness in treating bumblefoot in hamsters has yet to be scientifically proven.

Personally, I feel that honey is a food, after all. Hamsters may lick it and eat it off their feet. It may also attract other insects. Moreover, honey is sticky, and flies or unwanted objects may get stuck to the hamster’s footpad.

Epsom Salt

While Epsom salt is sometimes used to soothe sore muscles and improve circulation in humans, there is limited research on its effectiveness in treating bumblefoot in hamsters.

Soaking their feet in Epsom salt may also further irritate their delicate skin.

How Do I Prevent Bumblefoot on Hamster?

The good news is we can easily prevent bumblefoot.

Let’s explore some ways which we can do to prevent bumblefoot in hamsters.

Provide a Clean and Proper Home

Hamsters are very active in their cage. So make sure the cage is large enough for them.

The cage should also have a running wheel, which helps to keep the hamster fit. Running wheels should be sturdy and be an appropriate size for your hamster.

Tunnels, climbing structures, and chew toys can also provide stimulation and exercise for your hamster.

By keeping your hamster active, you’ll be able to prevent boredom and inactivity, which can lead to obesity.

The cage, along with the wheel and toys, should be cleaned regularly to prevent the accumulation of bacteria and other pathogens that can lead to bumblefoot.

Maintaining a Balanced Diet

Hamsters have a high metabolism and require a diet rich in nutrients.

A hamster’s typical diet includes a high-quality hamster pellet, fresh vegetables, fruits, seeds, and other healthy snacks. Avoid overfeeding and monitor their weight regularly.

It’s also essential to provide fresh and sufficient water for your hamster. Hamsters can be prone to dehydration, especially in hot weather.

Check Their Feet Regularly

It’s as simple as it gets. Ideally, check their feet at least twice a day – once in the morning and once at night.

Regular foot inspections can help catch any problems early on and prevent the progression of bumblefoot to a more severe stage.

When inspecting your hamster’s feet, be gentle and secure with them. Look closely for any signs of swelling, redness or discharge.

Is Bumblefoot Contagious To Humans?

No, bumblefoot in hamsters is not contagious to humans. It cannot be spread from one hamster to another or to humans.

However, since bumblefoot is caused by a bacterial infection in living conditions, other diseases or parasites may be present and can be contagious to humans.

To minimize the risk of infection, always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling your hamster.

Key Takeaways

  • Bumblefoot in hamsters are caused by a bacteria infection through wounds on their feet.
  • Check your hamster’s feet regularly to detect early signs of infection.
  • Redness, swelling or discharge on their feet are usually signs of infection.
  • Bring your hamster to the vet for assessment to prevent any health complications as more severe cases require proper medications such as antibiotics.
  • To prevent bumblefoot, provide a proper and safe home free of any sharp objects that can potentially injure their feet.
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