Hamsters are cherished companions. To ensure your pet’s well-being, being well-informed about every potential health issue is important. One of the most common health issues for hamsters is called “hamster bumblefoot.” Prevention by building a safe cage is ideal, but sometimes new hamster owners make mistakes, and it is OK, let’s fix it and learn!
Limping, swelling, or a minor wound can quickly progress into a major problem because hamsters don’t know how to stay off their feet! Let’s tackle this problem so your hamster can be happily running around pain-free.
Bumblefoot can occur in any animal with paws, but it can be hard to recognize in hamsters because their feet are so tiny! It is easier to see on a dog because they are, well, bigger! But hamster bumblefoot is still a big problem for your little friend.
Hamster bumblefoot requires your attention, and if you notice open wounds or infections, We recommend you take your little friend to the vet. This is because left untreated, it is about 50% fatal. But don’t worry, in this article, I will teach you everything you need to know about bumble foot on hamsters. It will be OK!
WHAT IS BUMBLEFOOT ON HAMSTERS?
Scientifically, this bumblefoot on hamsters is called “pododermatitis,” translated to English means inflammation of the paw’s skin. Inflammation can quickly progress into open wounds and infections that can be life or limb-threatening.
Hamster bumblefoot is characterized by redness, swelling, and sometimes open sores or ulcers on the feet. Bumblefoot is generally a result of excessive pressure and abrasion on their sensitive footpads. It can range from mild to severe.
SIGNS OF HAMSTER BUMBLEFOOT
Early detection is key in managing this condition. If you notice any early warning signals, you could prevent a trip to the vet by promptly diagnosis the problem.
Be vigilant for any behavioral changes such as limping, reluctance to move, or decreased activity levels. If you notice your hamster is becoming lethargic, less alert, not eating as much, less active, or in a bad mood, there is most likely a problem you need to fix. Among other things, bumblefoot could be the cause.
Female hamsters go into heat once every 4 days, so if you have a female, you might have to observe longer than one day to see if the behavioral problem is simply normal biology or not. Keeping an eye on your hamster’s daily antics can help you catch any unusual signs early on.
Behavioral changes can have a number of causes. Bumblefoot or not, you should figure out why your hamster is acting strangely.
Take a look at your hamster’s paws whenever you have an opportunity. You should be able to see them if they are laying on their back, standing up to drink water, playing with a toy, or when you remove them for playtime or cage cleaning. Although hamsters are small, with little effort, you can see the signs of bumblefoot clearly as it is an external problem.
Most hamsters have bumps on their bare-skinned feet and these are the normal pads used for traction. They should be the same color as the rest of the foot. Dwarf hamsters are unique however as their feet should be covered in a thin layer of hair.
You can tell if your hamster has bumblefoot by looking for any of these obvious visual signs on their paws: Redness, swelling, sores, cuts, ulcers, puss, oozing, scabs, callouses, abscesses, or necrosis. In the early stage, home treatment is fine, but if the problem progresses you will need to go to the vet.
If your hamster has any visible signs of bumblefoot, it is important to figure out how severe it is as soon as possible. We always recommend going to the vet because bumblefoot often does not heal on its own.
WHAT CAUSES BUMBLEFOOT ON HAMSTERS?
Bumblefoot on hamsters is primarily caused by pressure and trauma to the foot pads. Abrasions, small scratches, and cuts can lead to inflammation followed by infection.
Several factors can contribute to the development of bumblefoot, but most of these factors are in your control. The risk of wounds can be minimized by eliminating these causes:
Dirty hamster bedding
No bedding is terrible, but nothing is worse than dirty bedding. It hosts bacteria and viruses that can infect your hamster’s bumblefoot wound. You don’t want to leave around a bunch of old, poop, or urine-soaked bedding. Microbes thrive in this environment and they increase the chance of bumblefoot progressing into worse stages.
If you choose unsafe bedding, it could irritate your hamster’s feet. Some bedding is too sharp, while other bedding causes allergies. Some beddings contain chemicals that aren’t safe to be around. Examples of unsafe bedding: Sharp wood shavings, sawdust, cat litter, fabric, corn cobs, pellets, chemically scented bedding, newspaper, styrofoam, legos, etc.
Bad hamster running wheel
One of the most common mistakes new hamster owners make is using the wrong wheel. Some wheels are made of metal bars, and again, this doesn’t allow for proper weight distribution on the feet. In fact, most hamster wheels sold are not safe.
This is one of the most common causes of bumble foot on hamsters. Mesh wheels are too abrasive as well. Make sure that your hamster is using safe and large hamster wheels.
Overweight hamsters have more pressure on their feet. Gravity! Letting your hamster get obese is bad because all of a hamster’s weight ends up being forced into the bottom of its feet. More weight results in more friction with the ground and results in abrasions. If you know that your hamster is overweight, help them lose some of it.
Lack of exercise
Lack of exercise contributes to obesity but also is dangerous because it contributes to the risk of infection. Much like with bedsores in humans, hamsters need to move their feet to let them air out so their sores do not fester with bacteria.
Staying in their hamster bed all day is not safe. Here are some tips on how to keep a hamster busy and active for their own health.
Dangerous hamster toys
Sharp objects make really bad toys. DYI toys are fun and great, but using something sharp like a paperclip is terrible. This could cause a cut or a puncture wound that gets infected. If it isn’t safe for a baby, it isn’t safe for a hamster. We have a list of safe and fun hamster toys you can check out.
Dangerous hamster cage flooring
Some new hamster owners don’t use any bedding at all. For example, people set up hamster cages made out of sharp Legos or magnetic beads. Others just let the hamster run around on the plastic floor. This will hurt your hamster’s feet, just like it hurts us to walk on Legos.
Some metal cages also have a metal mesh floor, like a bird’s cage, or have bare bars like a ladder as part of the ramps. Have you tried climbing a ladder barefoot? Ouch! The problem with this is that the bars are too small. They put a lot of pressure on just a small part of the foot instead of allowing the weight to distribute evenly.
One big rough rock is essential for hamsters to maintain short nails, but you need to make sure you are using the best rocks and not too many! Having the entire floor made out of rough or sharp rocks is going to scrape or cut your hamster’s feet over time. You must know how painful it is to walk on rocks barefoot.
Multilevel cages are bad, especially if the 2nd floor is made of bars or wires. The platform should be solid. Here is a compilation of bad hamster cage setups for more ideas.
Hamster nails are too long
If you allow your hamster’s nails to grow too long, it will affect the way their feet impact the ground. Long nails can force a hamster to walk on the parts of its feet that aren’t meant to be load-bearing. Long nails are like wearing the wrong size shoes or high heels.
Infrequent health checks
Failing to inspect your hamster’s feet is the main reason that hamster bumblefoot progresses from stages 1 to 2 to 3 to 4. Their feet are tiny, so they can be difficult to inspect, but usually, this failure to check their feet is out of negligence. Hamsters give you many opportunities to see the bottom of their feet.
PREVENTION OF BUMBLEFOOT ON HAMSTERS
Preventing hamster bumblefoot is the ideal scenario, and as a first-time owner, following all of these prevention tips will keep this health problem from occurring in the first place. Unfortunately, many people don’t learn about bumblefoot prevention until it has already occurred, but still, you can use these tips to make sure it doesn’t happen a second time.
Safe cage setup
Bumblefoot on hamsters starts with abrasions or cuts on the feet. Make sure you don’t have any sharp objects in the cage, and that you are using safe bedding like aspen shavings. Hamsters need wheels to get their exercise, just make sure you get a safe one that doesn’t hurt your pet’s feet.
Setting up a sand bath allows your hamster to clean itself, which will prevent infection. Put the water bottle, wheel, and food bowl away from their hideout/den so most of their poo and pee isn’t in their sleeping quarters. A well-thought-out hamster home will go a long way in preventing bumblefoot from showing up in the first place.
Infection is how bumblefoot hamster progresses from stages 2 to 3 to 4. We recommend “spot cleaning” the bedding, especially in their toilet area. Spot cleaning means inspecting where the dirtiest or soiled and poop concentrations are. Remove and replace this small area of bedding once a week.
Deep cleaning is stressful, so should only be done once every 1, 2, or 3 months. Simply, it involves placing your hamster into the playpen, cleaning everything, and then putting in 75% new bedding. It is a good idea to mix in 25% of the cleanest old bedding so the hamster still recognizes by the smell that this new clean cage is still home.
Safe bedding is key because your hamster’s paws contact this almost all of the time except when running on the wheel. A soft deep bedding that has no chance to cut your hamster’s feet is the best idea. Just think, “Is this going to hurt my pet’s feet?”
If you catch bumblefoot early and everything in the cage is safe, you could try switching bedding types if your hamster is simply allergic or not responding well to your current use.
Safe hamster running wheels
A safe wheel is the best way to prevent hamster bumblefoot. Mesh wheels cause too much abrasion, and the toes or nails could get stuck. Wire wheels are the worst because an entire limb could get stuck, and also only a small part of each foot makes contact with each step.
Bad wheels don’t allow proper weight distribution across the foot. They concentrate all the pressure just wherever the bar makes contact. A good wheel with a 100% solid running base is best. There is no opportunity for footpad injury.
Plastic wheels are okay, but they are slippery and rely on ridges for the hamster to get a grip which could cause injury if the ridges are sharp. Make sure to feel inside your running wheel once and a wheel to ensure it won’t cause trauma.
The best wheels are silent, soft, wooden ones like the Niteangel Wooden Hamster Exercise Wheel. These are smooth and soft inside and still offer some grip with little chance of injury, something made of cork is ideal. Remember you want your wheel to allow your hamster to run like it would on flat ground in the wild.
Bigger wheels are better because they allow your hamster’s foot to impact the ground at a flatter angle. A small wheel forces your hamster’s front feet to be bent upwards, putting too much weight on the heels. Likewise, the back legs would be angled where the toes take too much pressure.
Keeping your hamster lightweight
Hamsters are hoarders, and controlling their weight by diet is a difficult task. They won’t be happy unless they have too much food hidden around the cage or even in their pouches. You can help by providing a good quality dry mix or protein-packed mealworms and avoiding sugary treats.
Hamsters are supposed to run about 5 miles (8km) per day in the wild. There are two ways to control weight in mammals; limiting calories or burning calories. Hamsters only feel safe with a food stash, so you can best provide a good wheel.
Bumblefoot can spiral out of control because the pain reduces their mobility. This leads to weight gain. Starving your hamster isn’t the answer. A healthy diet and a great exercise wheel are the way to go.
Taking your hamster out into a playpen once a day is a good idea, and we highly recommend it for several reasons. Hamster balls for exercise are terrible because the sharp air vents can cause bumblefoot. Plus, hamsters don’t enjoy being trapped in them anyway. A playpen is a good way to let your hamster run around on flat ground to burn some calories.
Hamster nail care (best rocks)
Don’t cover your entire hamster cage with rough, sharp, or small rocks. Rocks can rub against their footpads like sandpaper, causing bumblefoot. You do want to place one large rough rock for your hamster to grind their nails down on. A nail treatment rock is essential.
If a hamster’s nails grow too long, it will alter your pet’s natural locomotion. The foot can’t move smoothly from to heel if there are some huge nails getting in the way. You can trim these nails yourself if your hamster is tamed, go to the vet, or prevent this by adding ONE good, flat, slightly rough rock to the enclosure.
Hamsters will chew on stuff to stop their evergrowing teeth from getting too long, and they will scratch on rocks to shorten their nails if given the means. Having no nail rock can result in hamster bumblefoot.
It is impossible to have a 100% sterile hamster cage, so preventing wounds is very important. Make sure there are no sharp toys, wood chips, ramps, or metal cage bars that could cause a cut or puncture wound.
Keep anything sharp, like paper clips, out of your DYI toys and projects. Also, you need to think about avoiding things like papercuts from cardboard. Sometimes plastic can be sharp too, so inspect it and sand it down if you have to make it smoother. Your hamster might chew smooth plastic into a new sharper shape, so inspect plastic regularly.
When a hamster gets a wound on the foot, it is challenging for it to heal. Hamsters don’t understand infections, and you can not simply tell them to stay off their foot for a few weeks like human doctors can instruct us to do.
Weekly health checks
A weekly health check is important to check for obvious common hamster diseases. Luckily, bumblefoot is visible. After you tame your hamster, you can try to turn the pet upside down when you move it for playtime. This way, you can see all 4 feet at the same time.
Do they all look the same? Is one red? Is one oozing? Bumblefoot usually starts in 1 or 2 feet first, so you can comparatively see if some feet are doing worse than others. It could be helpful to take a comparative photo of your hamster’s healthy feet to see if the bumblefoot is progressing or getting better.
If your hamster isn’t tame, you can still try to inspect it whenever it stands up to drink or rolls over on its back. While doing a quick review, check for teeth and ear problems. A sandbath is good because it lets you get a look at your hamster rolling around without touching it, and it is cleaning itself at the same time.
Behavior is often the easiest way to recognize something is wrong. Something is wrong if your hamster is limping, lethargic, moody, not eating, or not playing. If you see behavioral problems for over a couple of days, doing a quick health check is best.
Performing a weekly health check means bumblefoot will be caught early before it progresses into the stage where you must take it to the vet. Inspect your hamster’s feet regularly so you can stop bumblefoot in its tracks. Prevention is much better than treatment at the vet and dealing with home treatment afterwards.
If you are a new pet owner and hamster bumblefoot caught you by surprise, we suggest you read through our webpage to learn about potential problems and how you can prevent them from happening in the first place. Reading our book will help you avoid any future problems from suddenly popping up.
GOING TO THE VET FOR BUMBLEFOOT HAMSTER
After performing a health check on your hamster’s footpads, you may or may not need to go to the vet. If you are in doubt, we always recommend going on the safe side and consulting a professional.
Depending on the condition of the paws, your course of action could be different. If your hamster has no signs of bumblefoot but still behaves strangely or limps, you should go to the vet to figure out what is happening. Behavioral problems can have a variety of causes, some of which can not be determined by the mere naked eye.
If you suspect bumblefoot, you need to determine which stage it is currently in. Mild redness and swelling can be fixed at home by solving the problem with the cage. If your hamster is not limping and is still happy, get a safer running wheel, nail rock, bedding, toys, sandbath, or even a bigger cage.
If your hamster is in a bad mood, or limping or if you see open wounds, bleeding, puss, blisters, or abscesses, you will need to go to the vet. You must also fix whatever issues caused the hamster’s bumblefoot so it doesn’t happen a 2nd time and provides your hamster with a safe place to recover.
Stages of hamster bumblefoot (pododermatitis):
Stage 1: Initial inflammation (treat at home or go to vet)
The foot pads show signs of redness, swelling, and sensitivity. Your hamster is still happy and can do normal things like running around on its wheel. Regularly inspecting your hamster’s footpads should allow you to catch bumblefoot on hamsters at stage one.
Stage 2: Callus Formation (treat at home and monitor or go to vet)
As the inflammation progresses, a callus, or thick skin just like you get on your fingers when you play the guitar, begins to form. The foot skin appears rough instead of soft. Your hamster is now in pain and has a noticeable reduction in activity and a slight limp.
Stage 3: Ulceration and Abscess Formation (seek vet)
The skin blisters and breaks open. This stage is characterized by an open wound that is susceptible to infection. Bleeding, puss, scabbing, or an ulcer is visible. Your hamster will not be able to put any weight on its bumblefoot. This condition is known as “ulcerative pododermatitis.”
Now it’s time to go to the vet for sure because the infection is a risk, and your hamster is in significant pain. As a responsible hamster owner, you must ensure your hamster never gets to stage 3.
Stage 4: Deep Infection and Tissue Necrosis (seek vet hospital)
If hamster bumblefoot continues to progress untreated, the infection can spread deeper into the tissues, including the bones. The foot pad will deteriorate further, and tissue death may occur. Your hamster will become immobile, and the foot will become permanently deformed.
In severe cases, the infection can spread into the bloodstream, leading to blood poisoning, organ failure, or even death. Please don’t let your hamster reach stage 4, as amputation is often the only solution. Stage 4 ulcerative pododermatitis is about 50% fatal. You need to health check your hamster frequently and catch bumblefoot earlier.
Hamster travel transporters:
If you need to take your hamster to the vet, it is best to contact one first to make sure they know how to deal with hamsters. Some vets only deal with cats and dogs. What you are looking for is an “exotic pet veterinarian”.
Using a hamster travel carrier is the best way to transport your hamster. These are small versions of cages. It’s best to get one with a water bottle if you must travel more than one hour. Your hamster will be uncomfortable, so it’s best to mitigate this feeling the best you can.
We recommend using old bedding, not new bedding, in the carrier so the scent is familiar. Also, your hamster will be happy if you bring some of their favorite treats along. Flying with a hamster is legally almost impossible, so hopefully, there is a vet nearby you can get to by car or bus.
It is important to reduce your hamster’s stress level while traveling, and a good hamster travel cage will go a long way in helping your injured hamster feel comfortable. We discourage putting them in a hamster ball or a cardboard box, although if it’s an emergency, it is OK to run down to the local pet store and grab a hamster ball if that’s the only option.
Here are some recommended cages you can order online Even if your hamster isn’t sick yet, it is best to have one of these beforehand in case of emergency so you don’t have to wait for delivery.
Best hamster travel cages
- ІRІЅ Ѕmаll Аnіmаl Саrrіеr –Perfect size, соmеѕ wіth а wаtеr bоttlе, and is wеll-vеntіlаtеd (6.69 х 10.31 х 7.28 іn)
- Аlfіе Реt Тrаvеl Саrrіеr – Great ѕіzе, wіth wаtеr bоttlе, аnd а nісе hіdеоut аrеа. We rесоmmеnd adding some tape to lock it shut (10 х 8.6 х 4.4 іn )
- Наbіtrаіl ОVО Тrаnѕроrt Unіt – Has no wаtеr bоttlе but is an OK ѕіzе fоr а vіѕіt tо thе vеt (7 х 7.8 х 5.4 іn / 17.78 х 19.8 х 13.7 сm)
- Меgаwа Роrtаblе Саrrіеr – Cоmеѕ wіth а wаtеr bоttlе, саn ѕее thrоugh іnѕіdе to check on your hamster, but seeing outside can be stressful while moving around (7.67 х 6.29 іn / 19.5 х 16.5 сm)
- Lіvіng Wоrld Ѕmаll Аnіmаl Саrrіеr – Secure lосk, lоtѕ оf vеntіlаtіоn (12 х 3 х 6 іn / 30.48 х 7.62 х 15.24 сm)
BUMBLEFOOT HAMSTER TREATMENT
You should consult or go to the vet to get the best treatment. Depending on how bad the hamster’s bumble foot is, the treatment can vary greatly. Generally, the vet will clean out the wound and give you instructions for at-home care in the following days.
After a week or so, you should bring your hamster back to the vet for a follow-up to make sure everything is going well. The treatment is basically the same as how you would clean and treat a wound on the bottom of your own foot.
The problem with hamsters is that they don’t speak human language, so you can’t tell them to stay off their injured foot. Also, they are very active and will not understand you are trying to help them when you address the wound.
It’s best to have a vet do the cleanup so your hamster doesn’t get angry with you and you ruin your friendly relationship. Here is what you and the vet will probably have to do to clear up the bumblefoot hamster injury.
The first thing the vet will do is confirm that bumblefoot is the actual problem with your hamster. This is fairly straightforward because it can be seen visibly. Redness, swelling, oozing, scabs, bleeding, ulcers, calluses, and abscesses. You need to figure out which stage of bumblefoot your hamster is in.
Stage 1 or 2 hamster bumblefoot could be solved simply by making the cage safer by removing any abrasive, sharp, or rough objects and toys. Change to a softer bedding or a non-irritating one. Cleaning the cage to remove viruses and bacteria will always be recommended in all 4 stages of severity.
If there are no open wounds, no treatment is required. But with open wounds, the vet will first do soak the injured feet in something to loosen up the scabs. This involves putting your hamster in a shallow solution of water-downed antiseptics. Diluted chlorhexidine, betadine, or epsom salts are the most commonly used.
3. Cleaning the wound
This is painful and traumatic to your hamster, so best done by the vet. The wound might have bacteria inside or even some debris like bedding, food, or poopies. Cleaning the wound is necessary to stop future infection. Squeezing out any yellow puss may be required.
After soaking, a clean, soft cloth or cotton pad soaked in the antiseptic solution is used to gently clean the affected foot. The vet will be very gentle to avoid causing any further damage. Do not forcefully remove scabs or ulcers, as this can worsen the condition.
4. Topical treatment
Once cleaned out, your veterinarian may recommend a specific topical antibiotic ointment or cream to apply to the affected foot. Follow their instructions carefully regarding the application frequency and quantity. This treatment helps to promote healing and prevent infection.
Common over-the-counter topical ointments include things like Neosporin, which has 3 different active ingredients. Hamsters are generally allergic to penicillin. You should use whatever the vet recommends and remember drugs for humans have widely not been tested in hamsters.
This can be very challenging because your hamster’s feet are so small. If the wounds are bad after applying the antibiotic cream, use a bandage. Nonstick bandages are the best. Make sure the bandage covers the entire wound, then loosely wrap the medical tape around the limb to make sure it doesn’t fall off.
Bandages will probably need to be changed daily until there is no more puss or oozing and the risk of infection is gone.
6. Salt baths
Your vet will probably recommend between changing bandages, you soak your hamster’s feet in a shallow bath that covers its feet. Never put your hamster in deep water. Hamsters hate water, so this is challenging. Epsom salt is commonly used to prevent infection.
7. General antibiotics
Sometimes if your hamster is in stage 3 or 4 bumblefoot, a general oral antibiotic will be prescribed. This will prevent the infection from infecting the bones and blood and spreading. Finding the correct dose for a hamster is really difficult because they are so small.
When you return from the vet, check on your hamster daily to see that the bumblefoot is healing properly and does not become infected again. If you see any symptoms worsening or the wound is not healing, return to the vet. In fact, you should go back to the vet anyway just to be safe for your peace of mind.
This is the 2nd worse scenario. If the footpad infection fails to go away, the vet may amputate the leg to prevent systemic infection. The goal of amputation is to prevent decay and infection from spreading into the bones and bloodstream, which would be fatal.
The 1st worse scenario is death, and do not be mistaken. Bumblefoot on hamsters is about 50% fatal if left untreated. “Bumblefoot” sounds trivial, but the condition is much worse than it sounds. Take it seriously as soon as you notice any symptoms.
While hamster bumblefoot is healing, it is common to remove the wheel. Hamsters still need their exercise, so the best idea is to let them out to the playpen more frequently. Sitting still doesn’t allow the bottom of the feet to air out properly.
Depending on how bad the condition is, the wheel should be removed or not removed. In any case, keeping a clean and safe cage is required. Bumblefoot is serious, but with your attention, it can be resolved.
HAMSTER BUMBLEFOOT OUTLOOK
Your hamster should be able to recover from any stage of bumblefoot if the vet treatment plan is followed diligently. Early detection or better prevention is best. The worse the wound, the longer it will take to heal, and the worse the chance of a full recovery are.
Your pet is going to be unhappy during treatment, but your care is required. Using the vet for the initial wound cleaning will help your hamster not get mad at you for hurting it. The healing phase requires extra attention from you as an owner.
This hard work of treating hamsters bumblefoot will be rewarded. Your hamster will be happy again once it is solved. Even if amputation is required, a hamster can live a healthy life with 3 legs.
The outlook is 50% fatal if you neglect to fix the problems and follow the treatment plan. The outlook on the bumblefoot hamster is good if you go to the vet and fix your cage. It is worth the temporary inconvenience to allow your hamster to be happy and run around limp-free again.
PRODUCTS TO TREAT HAMSTER BUMBLEFOOT:
A good antibiotic cream or ointment helps keep infection away after the wound is cleaned. Another option is to get an antibiotic spray so you don’t have to touch your hamster injured footpad and make it angry with you. Hamsters are allergic and don’t respond well to all human drugs, and you need to double-check with your vet what antibiotic is best.
Normal medical gauze can work, but it is bad because it sticks to the wound and your hamster is going to be angry when you change the bandage. It’s best to buy some nonstick bandages. They will pull off easier and are still breathable to allow healing. These are expensive but you can just buy a few because you can cut them to the correct size.
Epsom salt is commonly used. Your vet may ask you to dissolve some in water and soak your hamster’s feet in it between bandage changes. This helps to prevent infection in the wound and is relatively pain-free. Make sure the water is only deep enough to soak your hamster’s feet as they hate water.
You will need some medical tape to hold the bandages onto your hamster’s feet. Make sure not to wrap it too tightly as it could restrict blood flow. You also want to tape around the wound to allow breathability so it can be removed without further injuring the wound.
Vet hamster carrier
It is always best to transport your hamster in a way that makes your friend feel as comfortable as possible. This IRIS Critter Carrier is the best because it has good airflow and room for deep bedding and a water bottle inside!
FINAL THOUGHTS ON HAMSTER BUMBLEFOOT
Untreated, hamster bumblefoot is about 50% fatal and requires your immediate attention if you notice any symptoms. It can be hard to look at your hamster’s feet because they are so small. Whenever you get an opportunity to see their feet, take a minute to inspect if they are injured.
Prevention by setting up a good safe cage is the best solution. Avoid sharp objects and don’t let your hamster walk on bare bars. Bars are too small for a hamster’s feet and concentrate all of their weight on just a small part of the foot. Add a sandbath so your hamster can clean itself to prevent infection.
Most of the time, a bad wheel or unsanitary cage are the culprits for bumblefoot hamster. Your hamster might wound its foot on a bad wheel, leading to infection because there is too much poop, urine, and bacteria around for it to heal safely in a dirty cage.
Also, use safe bedding and make sure their nails are not getting too long. One large scratching rock will allow your hamster to shorten its own nails. It is best to find one in nature and clean it because you can’t tell the size online. Long nails screw up their running posture and put pressure on the wrong parts of the feet.
Stage 1 and stage 2 pododermatitis can heal on their own if you fix the cage. Stage 3 and 4 injuries require treatment at the vet. This involves cleaning the wound, antibiotics, bandaging, and epsom salt baths.
Catching bumblefoot early on improves the outlook, but even late-stage bumblefoot has a good chance to resolve if you follow the vet’s treatment plan. Don’t worry! With your help, your furry friend will be happy again and live a normal and healthy life!