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Diabetes Mellitus in Hamsters

Like many other animals hamsters may become diabetic. Chinese hamsters are particularly susceptible to this condition.

Diabetic hamsters may have a range of signs including excessive drinking, eating and urination. They will probably lose weight and may become irritable when previously they were good natured. They will drink more than 10mls of water per day which is excessive for these animals. Diabetic hamsters usually show signs of the disease before they are 30 days old and it is believed to be a genetic disease. The vet can make a diagnosis by testing samples of urine and/ or blood to test for hyperglyceamia (high sugar levels). More than one sample may be required since sugar levels may fluctuate due to stress and dietary factors.

If diabetes is diagnosed it may often be controlled by regulating the diet. Stop feeding sweet treats such as raisins, it may also help to reduce the fat content of the diet and change the source of dietary fats from animal to vegetable fats. Experimentally insulin therapy is possible in the hamster but rarely undertaken in pet hamsters due to the difficulty of giving daily injections to these small creatures. Oral hypoglyceamic agents have also been used experimentally.

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