Hamsters are susceptible to various diseases, one of which is pyometra. Pyometra is a disease that female hamsters get, that is, their uterus.
Pyometra is a very dangerous disease that can cause fatal consequences and death in female hamsters. This disease can be treated with antibiotics to reduce the symptoms.
One of the antibiotics that show good results in the treatment of pyometra in female hamsters is Aglerpristone – antiprogestin medication.
However, for a complete cure of pyometra in hamsters, it is necessary to perform an operation that removes the uterus and ovaries, which makes it impossible for it to reappear.
In today’s article you will find out what causes pyometra in hamsters, what are the symptoms, how is it treated and how long can a hamster live with pyometra.
What are the causes of pyometra in hamsters?
Pyometra is a disease that occurs in female hamsters as a result of some bacteria (Escherichia coli, streptococcus) or due to hormonal and structural changes in the uterus.
- after pregnancy
- after mating
- after a sterilization operation
- after a phantom pregnancy
Since the hamster has been sterilized, this condition is called stump pyometra. Stump pyometra is the result of tissue left after sterilization of the uterus, which can become infected.
What are the symptoms of pyometra in hamsters?
When hamsters have pyometra the symptoms can vary depending on whether it is an open or closed pyometra.
For an open pyometra, the most characteristic symptom is the appearance of pus or blood from the vulva. For closed pyometra, the main symptom is distension of the hamster’s abdomen.
Common symptoms of both types of pyometra are the following:
- decrease in appetite
- appearance of lethargy
- excessive urination
- intake of a larger amount of fluids
- occasional body shaking
- loss of balance and movement problems
When pyometra in hamsters is in a more severe stage then they become more nervous and lose interest in grooming.
What types of pyometra can hamsters have?
Hamsters or female hamsters can have two types of pyometra, open or closed pyometra, so let’s read more about both types.
When hamsters have an open pyometra it can be seen by the discharge of pus or blood from their uterus and vulva through the open cervix.
Sometimes menstruation is confused with pyometra. Some owners think that the appearance of red discharge is menstruation, which can actually be a sign of pyometra.
When female hamsters have an estrous cycle, it lasts 4 days and repeats several times in a month. But instead of blood, white discharge appears in hamsters, and this happens almost always on the first day of the cycle.
When hamsters have pus from pyometra, the difference in color is visible when they have an estrous cycle.
Pus or blood from pyometra, apart from having a different color than menstruation, is also noticed to have an unpleasant smell.
When hamsters have a closed pyometra, blood, and pus do not flow from the cervix because it is closed.
Since pus and blood cannot flow out, it accumulates in the uterus itself and causes swelling or enlargement of the abdomen.
A closed pyometra is much more dangerous than an open one because it cannot be noticed and is often discovered much later when the hamster’s life is in greater danger.
If the closed pyometra is detected later, it may be too late and the infection itself can spread, which can lead to sepsis.
The pressure created by the accumulation of pus and blood in the uterus, it can cause the uterus to rupture, releasing all the accumulated bacteria in the abdomen and inflammation of the peritoneum known as Peritonitis.
If such a difficult situation occurs and Peritonitis occurs, the hamster’s life is put in danger and the chances of survival are reduced to a minimum.
Sometimes when hamsters have a bloated stomach it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have a pyometra, it can be another problem such as tumors, cysts, and ovarian cancer, so a vet check is the most important step for a reliable diagnosis.
How fast does pyometra progress in hamsters?
Pyometra is a very dangerous disease because it can appear quickly and progress at a fast pace. When it is not detected in time, then the chances for the hamster to survive are very small, and the treatment itself is limited.
When hamsters have an open pyometra then it can be noticed by the blood and pus while the disease is in an early stage and can be treated promptly.
And when hamsters have a closed pyometra, it is very difficult to notice, because first, their stomach needs to be expanded enough, otherwise, this disease will not be detected, and therefore a closed pyometra is much more dangerous with little chance of recovery.
Do hamsters feel pain when they have pyometra?
Yes, hamsters feel pain when they have pyometra.
However, when the hamster has a closed pyometra, then the pain is much more pronounced than with an open pyometra.
The pressure from the accumulated blood and pus in the uterus creates greater pain and discomfort for hamsters.
How is pyometra treated in hamsters?
When hamsters have pyometra then three ways of treating this disease are available:
- palliative care
Which option will be used in hamsters depends on several factors such as the hamster’s age, health, and the stage of the disease itself.
Can pyometra in hamsters be treated with antibiotics?
Antibiotics are not a cure for pyometra, they are given to hamsters to prepare them before surgery, that is, to reduce their infection.
When hamsters are given antibiotics for a longer period of time they help make the hamster less in pain and more comfortable.
But the long-term use of antibiotics can have a bad effect on the good bacteria in the hamster’s intestines and destroy them, and they are an important part because they help with proper digestion and intestinal work.
Aglepristone can also be used, it is a medicine that helps to relax the cervix. Sometimes using aglepristone can lead to complete recovery of the hamster from pyometra if used for a period of at least two weeks.
Other antibiotics used to treat pyometra in hamsters include:
- Baytril (enrofloxacin)
- Septrin (co-trimoxazole)
These two medications can be used separately or in combination, and their purpose is usually to prepare the hamster for surgery, although these two medicines have more side effects than aglepristone.
When hamsters have pyometra, does surgery always have to be done?
As we said, sometimes using aglepristone can cure the hamster without surgery.
But most of the time, as an emergency procedure, surgery is the only solution for hamsters, even though the surgery itself carries a risk for the hamster’s life, this is especially true for older hamsters and those who are in poor health.
Pyometra surgery in hamsters is called an ovariohysterectomy and then the uterus and ovaries are removed from the hamster’s body.
Is pyometra surgery in hamsters always successful?
Yes, pyometra surgery is the most successful method used in hamsters to cure them of this disease.
Pyometra surgery is risky because hamsters are small, and it can lead to more serious consequences or the death of your pet.
But if the hamster manages to survive the operation itself then it will probably recover completely from pyometra.
If the hamster recovers, it will have no chance of getting pyometra again because its uterus and ovaries will be removed, while if it is treated with aglepristone, then it can get pyometra again after some time.
Indeed, surgery is a permanent solution for hamsters to cure pyometra, but many owners do not decide on this step because of the cost.
Pyometra surgery in hamsters is very expensive at $700-2000 and many owners avoid it and use medications and antibiotics to treat their pets.
How long does it take hamsters to recover from pyometra surgery?
After pyometra surgery in hamsters, recovery takes a relatively short time, about 10 days. During those 10 days, the hamsters are given painkillers that they normally have after surgery.
After a week the hamster should be functioning normally and start moving and feeling well.
If the hamster still does not feel well after a week and cannot recover and function normally, it should be taken to a veterinarian to examine it and see if there are any other complications.
What is the survival rate of hamsters after pyometra surgery?
When hamsters undergo pyometra surgery, whether they survive depends on whether they have an open or closed pyometra.
If the hamsters have an open pyometra then the survival rate after surgery is about 75-90%.
When an operation is performed on a closed pyometra, the chances are much lower, or around 25-40%.
Palliative Management is a last resort for hamsters with pyometra
Sometimes, no matter how much you want to help a hamster with pyometra, it’s just too late.
If the hamster is older or the disease is too widespread then it is not worth doing an operation to cure it, because it will probably not survive the operation.
In these situations, the hamsters are given antibiotics to ease their pain and allow them to function despite having the disease.
If the hamster cannot function even with the help of medicines and antibiotics, it is constantly in severe pain, then it may be best to think about euthanasia.
Although no one wants this kind of end for his life, euthanasia is the last solution to shorten the pain and suffering of your pet.
How to care for the hamster after pyometra surgery?
After pyometra surgery, you need to take care of your hamster so that it can recover faster and easier.
Here are some things you should do:
- place the food and water bowls closer to the hamster so that it does not push itself too much, because after surgery it will be too weak to move much.
- Remove the toys and wheels from the cage, leave only a bowl for food and water, and provide them with soft and deep bedding.
- Do not handle the hamster for at least one week to recover.
- Provide him with silence in his environment, so that he does not get irritated and stressed until he recovers.
- Temperature is very important, so provide him with a normal temperature so he can heal faster.
Can hamsters with pyometra live long?
It all depends on the hamster itself, some live longer, others shorter, and it depends on their general health.
Age is also a factor that will affect the lifespan of a hamster with pyometra, as well as whether it is an open or closed pyometra.
If the infection is at a more advanced stage then the hamster cannot be expected to live much longer.
With the help of antibiotics, the hamster can live for a certain time, as long as its body can withstand it and if there are not many inconveniences, of course, all this is helped with the help of antibiotics.
Is pyometra a transmissible disease in hamsters?
Yes, pyometra is a transmissible disease, but it still depends on whether it is a bacterial infection or a viral one.
When hamsters have pyometra from a bacterial infection then it is transmissible from one hamster to another if the hamsters live together in the same cage.
It can be transmitted through food, toys, and bedding in the cage.
While if the cause of pyometra is a virus, then it may not be transmitted to other hamsters, because the viral infection is less transferable.
When hamsters have a pyometra, it is an infection of the uterus, resulting in leakage of blood or pus (open pyometra), or enlargement of the abdomen as a result of accumulation in the uterus (closed pyometra).
When hamsters have pyometra, they usually need to be treated with surgery because the uterus must be removed.
Antibiotics such as aglepristone can also be used, but this medicine is more for relaxing the hamster’s uterus and reducing pain.
Hamsters that undergo surgery, if they manage to survive the operation, continue to live quite normally.
The operation is risky for the life of the hamsters if they are older and if they have impaired general health.