Hamsters don't wake up one morning and decide to hit a weight loss program. Despite the hours they spend running in a stationary wheel, a hamster should maintain a normal body weight with good nutrition. If you've recently brought your new friend into your life, and she's on the thin side, it's important to use good nutrition to add a bit of weight to the body of your little fluff ball.
The Skinny on Skinny
Hamsters aren't normally skinny. If your new arrival is thin, it is possible that she was unintentionally food deprived while waiting patiently for you to adopt her. If she was housed with more aggressive females, she might not have been getting the nutrition she needed, or she may have been stressed and unable or unwilling to eat. Her stress may continue for a few days as she adapts to her new home, but as she eases in and becomes more comfortable, her appetite should improve. Providing her with a good diet is essential, not only during this honeymoon phase, but for her lifetime.
Protein is a normal part of a hamster's good diet. Most pet and feed stores sell pre-mixed hamster diet, which should contain protein and fats, carbohydrates, and vitamins and minerals. A skinny hamster might need a little help to fatten up, and some extra protein from hard boiled eggs, a small amount of cooked chicken, or even some mealworms may help add a little body weight to your thin friend. When feeding chicken or eggs, be certain to remove any uneaten remnants quickly. Leftovers can easily rot, and rotten food will make your little friend ill.
A Little Something Extra
Hamsters love little treats every now and then, and they'll eagerly stuff their pouches and hoard these treasures for a later snack. Cat treats and dog biscuits may add a little extra bulk to your thin buddy, and the dog biscuits especially will help grind down your hamster's teeth. Yogurt treats, made especially for hamsters, may also add a few extra calories to your hamster's diet, but should be given sparingly. These treats are typically high in sugar, which can affect your hamster's teeth, and excess sugar can lead to diabetes.
A Damsel in Distress
A suddenly thin hamster isn't a good sign, especially if she's been at a good weight during the time she's been in your care. Wet tail results from excessive diarrhea and can be deadly to your little pal. Diabetes may also occur, especially in Russian or Chinese hamsters. Any sudden changes in your hamster's behavior or appearance warrant a trip to her small-animal veterinarian. Her suddenly skinny appearance may be a sign that something is amiss.