A mouth abscess is a painful condition that affects a lot of people, but you may not have known that this problem can also affect your pet hamster. As you can imagine, a mouth abscess could cause your furry friend a lot of pain and discomfort, and, if left untreated, the animal could even die. Learn more about the causes of mouth abscesses in hamsters, and find out what you will need to do if your pet develops this condition.
Why abscesses form
An abscess can form in almost any part of a hamster's body. These swellings occur when an infection develops, and then the hamster's immune system kicks in. To try to prevent the infection spreading, the hamster's body sends white blood cells to the affected area, which leads to a localised collection of pus.
Hamsters are prone to oral infections for various reasons. As such, oral abscesses can form when:
- The hamster cuts the inside of his or her mouth on the sharp edge of a piece of food.
- A piece of food lodges in the pouch in the hamster's mouth during storage and becomes infected.
- The hamster injures his or her mouth by chewing something in his or her cage.
Hamsters can also get bacterial infections that lead to gum disease and tooth decay that eventually results in an oral abscess. This can happen when humans share their food with hamsters and bacteria get in the animal's mouth. A hamster can even get a bacterial infection from a human kiss.
If your hamster has a painful mouth abscess, he or she may not want to eat much food, and you may start to see some weight loss. The animal may develop bad breath, and you may also see a lump on the outer cheek. A sick hamster may also develop excess tears in one or both eyes.
Rodents (including hamsters) tend to get thick, creamy pus in an abscess, which makes the swelling difficult to drain. To complicate things further, it is often difficult for antibiotics to reach and tackle an oral abscess, so surgery is often the only solution. It's easier to treat smaller abscesses, but once the growth becomes larger and/or involves a bone infection, the vet may struggle to control the problem.
In the most serious cases, the hamster will need invasive surgery. The vet will then often need to place special beads in the affected area that include a high concentration of antibiotics. These antibiotics will last between two and six months, but the abscess can still recur. To improve the animal's chances of recovery, take your hamster to a vet or animal dentist as soon as you spot a possible problem.
Mouth abscesses are painful and problematic for hamsters. Talk to a specialist in animal dentistry for more information and advice.Share