Updated July 23, 2000
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
AND OTHER MEDICAL ISSUES
WE ARE NOT PROFESSIONALS, THESE ARE OUR OPINIONS ONLY
CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL ! ! !
CLICK ON A TITLE TO SEE MORE INFORMATION
ANOTHER GOOD DIABETES ARTICLE CAN BE FOUND AT:
THIS ARTICLE IS BY JANE LANDIS. WE HAVE TO MENTION THE CALIFORNIA HAMSTER ASSOCIATION WEB SITE WHICH HAS A LOT OF GOOD INFO. LINDA PRICE IS THE PRESIDENT, YOU SHOULD VISIT C.H.A. SITE AT:
Inherited diabetes mellitus is a well documented problem in certain lines of dwarf hamsters[i]. The bad news is that they seldom respond favourably to insulin therapy. Diabetes in Dwarf Hamsters may be related to the fact it has breed into them for medical research in some places.
Positive glucose findings (test strips) and the excessive thirst of a dwarf hamster certainly suggest that it may have diabetes.
There is some technical medical info at these links, (caution it is medical and may bother some people, but it is very informative on many illness):
General Hamster Info
We have had some experience with our hamsters who have diabetes and found the following information. We also found that the illness may not always show up at first in a young hamster fresh from a store. The illness may not manifest itself until the hamster matures a bit more. We found there is a big difference in degree of the illness from one hamster to the next. We also found ones that appeared very sick when young my last the longest while the healthy ones may not last as long.
We purchased three male hamsters from a large pet store chain. The diet they were getting in the store was bland, bulk foods, and our home diet was probably worsening them without our knowledge until the symptoms started to show up.
The dwarves were drinking 25ml of water a day each while the Syrian's were drinking about 5ml a day and were at least twice the size. The amount of urine was large and strong in smell. We suspected Moe & Larry (Dwarves) were diabetic due to extremely heavy drinking and excessive peeing. We tested all our hammies and all three Dwarfs tested positive, even though Curly showed no traditional signs.
They were on a slippery slope down hill. Larry was the sickest, and it got to the point he moved around very little, eyes were almost always closed, or barely open but he retained body weight. We were concerned because in severe diabetes imbalance it can lead to blindness. Moe on the other hand was losing weight. Curly was neutral, but not as active as when we brought them home. We could not find a Local Vet with small mammal experience.
After about 4 days on pedialyte and altered diet, the improvements were great. Both Moe and Larry were running around, Moe ran in the wheel, and all three came out in our hands and arms for a little while.
Eventually we found a vet with some experience with diabetic guinea pigs, rabbits and larger. The insulin dose for guinea pigs could be measured and administrated by a vet or trained owner. The amount per body weight for a Syrian or Dwarf can be technically determined, but cannot be practically administrated. The amount is too small to measure and the animals are too small to accept an injection properly. While some operations can be done Syrians, the Dwarf being smaller makes some procedures impossible according to the Vet.
What we had done, pedialyte and altered diet were best option and best treatment. Vet advised if diet change and pedialyte altered symptoms, we should continue, if not, may not be worth costs. (Personally, cost is not a factor when compassion is a factor.)
We took it slowly until they recovered over a couple of weeks. They never fully recovered or were as active as The Munckin and Priscila who can go for hours. (later on we found they were also diabetic) They never really recover completely due to how the disease works and how bad each hamster may have it, appearances / activity may not reflect the degree of illness. Curly the most active, and least signs at onset passed away first 4.5 months of age while Larry the worst lived to 8.5 months, and Moe is still healthy at this time
Lorraine Hill's Complete Hamster Site, http://www.hamsters.co.uk/ is the best place for more info. Avoid ALL SUGAR products, no treats. Many of the treats in stores have sugar in them.
One thing to look out for and avoid is "Molasses" which is similar to sugar. Products like Kaytee packaged foods indicated the product is sprayed with Molasses. It took some careful reading of ingredient labels to find hamster food without any traces of sugar. Only one was a Hagen product but it has corn in it, and we pick out the corn for the sick hamsters.
Providing protein (like wheat germ in scrambled eggs), is important, along with vegetables, ours go wild over broccoli. (To see the food pages, click here)
Pedialyte is bought at most drugstores off the shelves, it is not prescribed or restricted. In Canada it is called "Pedialyte", in other places it is called an "Electrolyte Solution". It comes in a liquid form, and a dry form.
!!! Do not use the dry version, it has artificial sweeteners, and will not provide any benefit and may do harm. !!!!
It is sold in the 248ml bottles and 1 Liter bottles. The individual 248ml bottles are expensive, $4.00 (Can) every 48 hours, with three diabetics hamsters consuming a lot. (Hamsters cost from about $6-12 each as a price comparison) The amount consumed may drop once the hamster starts to get benefits from the solution.
Marlene talked to the company that makes the brand of Pedialyte in Canada (PharmaScience in Montreal Canada) that distributes across Canada and found out some interesting things.
The use of Pedialyte in humans is not to control diabetes, but dehydration due to a short term illness. It allows someone taking it to retain more nutrition from the foods they consume when sick.
One of the effects of diabetes, is the inability of the hamster to retain nutritional value of the foods, thus untreated they will consume large amounts of liquids and foods but in effect starve to death as it is passed out quickly.
Using the real Liquid Sugar / Glucose version, with it's other ingredients allows the hamsters to retain some of the ingredients in the solution and retain some of the products in the solid foods. This is the beneficial property for the hamsters. They may actually be living more on the liquid than the food they eat, depending on the degree of illness.
We don't think this was based on their product / sales pitch, as this was Medical advice from a 24 Hour help / emergency number on the product.
Now the good news, they told Marlene that the product label, which says it is good for 48 hours, is based on a warm opened bottle, sitting on a kitchen counter. Some bottles, large say 48 hours; small ones have no time limit, but is same product. They expect they small container to be used in one meal (human) and larger bottle may take a couple of days to consume in humans, but may be left on kitchen counter like bottled water.
Once opened it must be stored carefully in a fridge, closed tightly and then it can last up to 30 days. As we go through a large bottle in 1 to 1.5 weeks, we are more than safe. Just to be safe we do not use it after 2 weeks.
The use of human diabetes test strips, can confirmed your fears or dispel them. They can be purchased at most Drugstores; a container with 50 strips is about $8.00 (Cdn). Dipping the strip into a fresh puddle of urine should give the results in a few seconds. If it turns slightly darker, the diabetes is currently mild, if it turns very dark; the imbalance is serious (see the picture below). If the results show no change in colour then the excessive urination could be an infection, go to a veterinarian right away. Use of the strips can help determine if the change helps. One of ours hamsters tested very dark when we first tested them, but after altering the diet and using pedialyte, the tests result showed an improvement.
If you can find a vet, with knowledge, this is good, but you may not find one with any experience in many parts of the world, or so it seems. The lists mentioned else on this site have many people with a lot of experience and many of your questions can be answered here. 1HML, COMPLETE HAMSTER SITE LIST, Dwarf Hamster.
If you have access to a vet, it is good to go. In our area of Canada, these Veterinarians treat small mammals. We have not dealt with all of them and make no recommendations.
Dr Janet Sawyer - Sheridan Veterinary Services, Pickering
Dr Petra Bergman - High Park Animal Clinic
Dr Bill Mingram - Courtice Veterinary Hospital, Courtice
Links Rd. Animal Clinic
Good care, affection and understanding of their condition (they tire easily and pee a lot) can make what time they have as comfortable as possible. Sooner or later the illness will progress, quality care will bring both the hamster and yourself a lot of good memories.
Easy-to-use Dosage Chart
This easy-to-use dosage chart suggests the daily dosage requirements of Pediatric Electrolyte in milliliters. The volume necessary is based on your child's weight.
For children under two years of age consult your physician before using Pediatric Electrolyte.
1 Snap or twist of top of bottle
2 After using, dispose of bottle.
Do not store or re-use open bottle
Under 2 years of age: Consult physician before using.
Children 2-10 years: With moderate to severe dehydration, oral dose initially: 15 mL of solution/kg body weight over the first 3-4 hours; 100 mL/kg body weight over the next 18-24 hours, the amounts and rates being adjusted as needed and tolerated depending on thirst and response to therapy. In keeping with safe medical practice, the administration of any oral rehydration therapy should not exceed 100 mL during a 20-minute period. The child should drink 1 litre (4 cups) to 2 litres (8 cups) per day while diarrhea continues
Warning; If your child experiences vomiting or fever, or if diarrhea continues beyond 24 hours, consult your physician.
Potassium Citrate 2.206mg/mL
Sodium Chloride 2.206 mg/mL
Sodium Citrate 0.937 mg/mL
PEDIATRIC ELECTROLYTE PROVIDES
(per Litre or 4 Cups)
Potassium 20 mEq
Chloride 35 mEq
Dextrose 25 grams
[i] Diabetes Mellitus in Chinese Hamsters
Boquist L. 1969. Pancreatic islet morphology in diabetic Chinese hamsters. Acta Pathol Microbiol Scand 75:399-414.
Meier H, Yerganian GA. 1959. Spontaneous hereditary diabetes mellitus in Chinese hamsters (Cricetulus griseus). I. Pathologic findings. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 100:810-815.
More recent, but off / on topic, was a more recent book,
"The Veterinary Clinics of North America Small Animal Practice: Diabetes Mellitus. Guest Editors: Deborah S. Greco & Mark E. Peterson. May 1995. Volume 25; #3. Saunders. ISSN 0195-5616.
SPONTANEOUSLY DIABETIC CHINESE HAMSTERS (UNI-GREIFSWALD)
Background on this page is Hamster Food