Nutmeg hamster has had dry, flaky skin, his hair is falling out, and he’s been scratching more than usual. Skin & fur problems in hamsters can be caused by aging, kidney disease, parasites, or a poor diet. There’s nothing to do for aging or kidney disease in hamsters, so I had to figure out if parasites or a poor diet could be causing his problems.
I couldn’t see any signs of mites, but those little buggers can be nearly invisible. No one else in the house was itching, so that was a sign that mites were not the cause. I use a good commercial diet that I’ve fed to all the hamsters and this is the first hamster who’s had this problem, so I was pretty sure his food wasn’t the cause. I also give Nutmeg tiny amounts of healthy fresh foods like cranberry, strawberry, banana, broccoli, carrot, almond, and pumpkin seed. I even added a drop of fish oil to his broccoli every night to see if that would help.
After a few weeks, Nutmeg’s flaky skin and hair loss continued getting worse, so I toted him off to the vet. Even though I didn’t think mites or ringworm were the cause, I wanted a professional opinion and asked the vet to see if he could detect anything using his ultra-violet light and microscope. You can never be too careful when it comes to parasites and fungus! No mites or ringworm were detected so the vet suggested making sure Nutmeg was eating all his food, especially the little pellet pieces that most hamsters pick out of their food mix. If that didn’t help, we’d have to find a vet that knew more about hamsters.
I said I’d try, but the hammies always avoid those pellets and they’d have never had skin problems. For the next couple weeks I was more diligent about only filling his bowl when it was empty but I’m pretty sure he was storing the little pellets and not eating them. I also cut back on his fresh foods and had to buy a new brand of food because the brand I usually feed wasn’t available.
Nutmeg still wasn’t improving and then it dawned on me that one thing I’ve done differently with Nutmeg is feed him broccoli. Broccoli is supposed to be ok for hamsters and he gets just one tiny floret along with a pea-sized piece of carrot almost every night. I stopped feeding him broccoli and after a couple weeks I saw some improvement in his skin. It’s been 4-5 weeks with a broccoli-free diet and Nutmeg’s skin is much better and his fur is noticeably thicker.
I’m glad the little furry is getting better. He’s around 2 years old but he’s active and now that his skin is healthy he should be amusing us for quite a while longer.
p.s. The store got more of Raven’s dry food so I was able to get a bag with a “best by” date of June 2015. Yay! Fresh food.