If your hamster has a thinning coat or appears to be leaving loose hair all around his living enclosure, you may be worried that he's unhealthy. The good news is that a moderate amount of periodic shedding and hair loss is normal for virtually all breeds of pet hamster. You don't need to be concerned about your hamster's health unless the hair loss become severe.
It is perfectly normal for your hamster to molt during the spring and fall seasons. Molting occurs as temperatures change. When your hamster molts he is shedding some of his old coat and regrowing new fur in its place. A molting hamster may look like he has a thinning coat for a period of several weeks before the new fur grows back in. If your hamster is molting then there is nothing you need to do, or even can do, to stop his shedding.
Excessive Hair Loss
Hair loss can occur in hamsters as they age or as a side effect of medical problems your hamster may be experiencing. Age-related hair loss is more likely to be seen in male hamsters who are more than a year old and occurs on their backs, stomachs and hind legs. Environmental hair loss can be caused by a leaking water bottle soaking the bedding or by an allergic reaction to a type of bedding or food you've given your pet. If your young, otherwise healthy hamster begins to lose his hair without regrowing new hair, then a trip to the veterinarian will be necessary to diagnose the cause.
Treating Hair Loss
If your veterinarian believes your hamster's shedding is caused by an underlying health problem, such as mites or mange, he will prescribe medication to help your pet stop losing fur. In addition to veterinary medications, make sure your hamster's diet contains at least 16 percent protein and a healthy dose of B vitamins. B-vitamin deficiencies have been linked to hair loss. Vitamin supplements for your hamster are available from your vet as well as most pet stores. Adding a drop of cod oil or crushing yeast tablets up in your hamster's food can also help with hair loss, but you should discuss all changes in your hamster's diet with your vet before you try them.
If you are sensitive to fur and dandruff, then your hamster's shedding may be irritating your allergies as well as making your hamster's cage a bit dirtier than usual. If you notice your hamster is shedding a lot, you may want to clean his enclosure more frequently to cut down on the amount of loose fur he's leaving behind. You can also gently comb your hamster to remove loose fur before it falls off his body.
John Howard/Lifesize/Getty Images
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.