Hamsters are naturally very clean and tidy animals; you'll often see them grooming themselves. This grooming is normally sufficient to help keep your hamster looking, feeling and smelling clean. Under normal circumstances it isn't a good idea to wash a hamster at all.
Water can remove vital protective oils from your pet’s coat. This can result in your little friend catching a chill, which can be very dangerous and potentially fatal. This is why it’s better to avoid washing your hamster when possible (and you should never make your hamster to swim!).
Fortunately, there are products available that may clean your hamster without washing them in water.
How to bathe a hamster with water
- How to bathe a hamster with water
- Can You Give Hamsters A Bath?
- How to Give a Hamster a Bath
- Hamster Sand Baths
- 3 Ways to Give Your Hamster a Bath
- Finding Other Solutions
- Using a Damp Cloth
- Bathing Your Hamster
What happens if your hamster is dirty?
If you little ball of fur looks a little less than spotless from time to time it’s not necessarily anything you have to worry about. Hamster’s can spend around 20% of their time grooming so it’s highly likely they have themselves looking bright and beautiful eventually.
Some hamsters love a little extra help by way of a dust bath, but you need to make sure that the dust you provide doesn’t irritate their eyes. Chinchilla dust is excellent for thwill be purpose. All you need to do is put just a little of the dust in a sturdy container that isn’t likely to move around all around the cage. Be sure you make sure that it’s just the right size for your hamster in order to enter and out of easily.
A dust bath is not something every hamster will love, so you may find that your furry friend rolls around with their heart’s content, or they might just sit and look at you with total disinterest. Either way it may be worth giving a dust bath a go.
It may seem obvious but it’s also very important to make sure that your hamster’s cage is kept clean as this helps them to help keep clean too, and is also important keeping in mind your pet healthy.
Once a week you should place your hamster in a safe environment (a little animal carrier is a good option) and clean the cage thoroughly. Doing this can help to ensure that your little friend will be able to keep themselves thoroughly clean making use of their grooming routine.
What if your hamster is not grooming as normal?
Hamsters are not just keeping themselves clean when they groom themselves. Another very important reason for grooming is their territorial nature. They could love you really much but they definitely do not want to smell like you, so they remove your scent if they clean themselves. They also spread their own scent all over themselves. Thwill be scent comes from tiny glands round the top of your hamster’s hips.
Grooming is a necessity for the hamster, so if grooming stops, there is normally thereforemething wrong with your pet. Obviously hamsters spend a good portion of time resting and sleeping, if you have a new arrival in your house don’t mistake taking a break from grooming to snooze for the pet being ill. If you try to wake them up to check you will scare your hamster and they'll not be very pleased with you. However, if your hamster does not groom for twenty-four hours you have to take them to the vet for an examine-up as there exists a good chance they're feeling ill.
Hamster coats should be brushed regularly, especially long-haired breeds. While brushing your hamster, pay special attention to matted hair.
Hamsters also require periodic nail trims, especially because they get older. Contact your vet if your hamster’s nails are overgrown or look abnormal.
At least every few weeks, inspect your hamster for any skin growths and check their rear end for fecal buildup or urine staining.
Finally, hamster teeth need special care and should be checked regularly by your pet parent. Because their teeth grow continuously, hamsters need things to gnaw and chew to make sure their tooth wear down appropriately. When hamsters can’t chew, their teeth may become misaligned or maloccluded. This may result in abscesses and also make it impossible for hamsters to consume and store food normally.
While it might be tempting to use trimming your hamster’s teeth yourself, it is advisable to have this procedure done by a veterinarian. Incorrect trimming of hamster teeth could cause fractures, tooth root abscesses, and pulp exposure, which may be very painful.
With good nutrition, proper cleaning, and adequate toys for gnawing and enrichment, hamsters should require little veterinary attention beyond an annual wellness exam.
What should you do if something toxic is on your hamster’s fur?
Obviously, you don’t want your hamster to swallow anything that is toxic. If your dog somehow gets a substance such as chewing gum or paint on their coat then you need to eliminate it as soon as you possibly can to prevent them from licking it if they groom.
It’s best if the substance can be removed by cutting off the effected fur, but this is not always possible. When there is no other way to take away the substance you then will have to clean your pet.
The RSPCA recommends that you use a soft unmake use ofd toothbrush with a little wtherm water to help untangle any matted pieces of fur, and just a little cotton wool, again with some tepid to warm water, to clean the affected area.
Remember that you should try to use as little water as possible, in order not to remove too many of the oils from your own hamster’s coat.
You should never use shampoo or any other substance on your hamster without first consulting a vet, therefore products could make your dog ill if they digest the residue when grooming.
Once you have cleaned your pet make sure they are fully dry before you put them back their cage. If they are still damp there exists a chance they will catch a chill and be ill.
The most important thing to remember is that your hamster will usually keep itself clean. You should only ever try to clean them when absolutely necessary. Usually your fastidious little furball can look just beautiful without the help from you!
Can You Give Hamsters A Bath?
Unless your vet instructs otherwise, most hamsters don’t require additional bathing with soap and water.
However, your hamster might require occasional help with cleaning their tail to prevent caked fecal material or urine staining. Leaving a hamster with a dirty rear can lead to urinary or reproductive issues.
You can clean your hamster’s rear end with pet-frifinishly wipes or perhaps a warm, damp wash cloth.
How to Give a Hamster a Bath
If your vet instructs you to give your hamster a genuine soap-and-water bath, keep the following tips at heart:
- Ensure the water temperature is warm enough never to cause hypothermia, but it should not be scalding. Test the drinking water on your own inner wrist or elbow. It must be lukewarm and unoffensive.
- Use a hthemster-friendly shampoo and rinse with warm water but be careful not to get any soap in the mouth or eyes.
- Bathe your hamster in a warm room, like a bathroom, without drafts.
- Use an easy-to-clean waterproof container, such as Tupperware, that has high sides to avoid your hamster escaping.
- Fill the water around your hamster’s shoulders to allow them to stand without having to swim or being fearful.
- Quickly dry your hamster off with a towel after the bath.
- Only place your hamster back in their enclosure when they are warm and dry.
After bathing, thoroughly wash the container with common household products and allow it to dry well. Be sure to wash your hands.
Hamster Sand Baths
While hamsters usually do not typically enjoy or need a traditional bath, many hamsters (especially dwarf breeds) do like regular sand baths. Hamsters in the open will use sand, instead of water, to keep clean, and it has many natural benefits. They love rolling, digging, and even playing in smooth, clean, sand since it helps “bathe” their skin and coat in a nontraditional way.
Sand baths help decrease natural oils and dirt that may have accumulated in your hamster’s coat. They may also deter parasites. However, if you’re concerned about your dog having parasites, it’s a good idea to talk to your veterinarian immediately.
Sand baths are also a fantastic solution to increase environmental enrichment and keep your hamster busy with new, fun play.
Chinchillas also require frequent sand baths, so fortunately there are some ready-made products you should use for hamsters. Veterinarians often recommend giving small pets chinchilla sand versus dust to diminish respiratory and eye issues.
To provide your hamster with a sand bath, fill a small dish with the appropriate sand and place it inside the enclosure. The dish should be little enough that your hamster can climb involved with it, but big sufficient to allow them to roll and bathe.
When your hamster is done bathing, remove the sand from the cage. A typical sand bath lasts about 15-20 minutes, nonetheless it may take longer if your hamster is actually enjoying it. Remove the sand afterwards, so that it doesn’t become a respiratory or eye irritant.
Depending on your hamster’s interest and need, a sand bath could be introduced as often because several times a week.
3 Ways to Give Your Hamster a Bath
Finding Other Solutions
Never bathe your hamster
Only bathe your hamster if there is something stuck in its fur or if he has come in contact with a toxic chemical. Bathing your hamster in water washes out their natural oils and can seriously harm them! Hamsters can’t swim very well and therefore can drown, they will be extremely stressed during the process as well which can kill a hamster. The rapid temperature changes can also give your hamster a cold which can make them seriously ill.
- During estrus, female hamsters can also have a different odor when they are in heat.
Clean the hamster cage more frequently.
The best way to address a smelly hamster is to partially clean out its cage more frequently. Change your cage-cleaning habits and see if the smell improves.
- Touch up problem areas daily and change all of the bedding every 6-8 weeks.
Ensure that your hamster really needs a bath.
The only time you should give your hamster a bath is if there is something on its coat that could harm him, e.g. something toxic or sticky on his coat or something stuck to him that he could choke on if he tried to clean himself. Go to an Exotic Vet before attempting this at home.
- If you've spilled something harmful on your hamster, you will probably wish to bathe it.
Try a sand bath first.
If your hamster is not life-threateningly dirty, a sand bath should be sufficient.The hamster will roll around in the sand, and the sand will cause most dirt to fall off naturally.
- Buy reptile sand at the pet store and put it in a little bowl for your hamster.
- Make sure to buy sand, not dust, as dust can cause respiratory problems for your hamster. It is like inhaling smoke as a human every day.
- Try to buy children's play sand from a hardware store. You can sterilize it by baking it in the oven at 400 °F (204 °C) for 15 minutes.
- If the sand is a permanent fixture in your hamster's cage or playpen, make sure to check it daily as your hamster may start using it as a litter box.
Make sure there is no other way to remove the problem substance.
For example, if your long-haired hamster has gum in its fur, you can simply cut it out.
Using a Damp Cloth
Fill a basin with one or two cups of room temperature water. Add one drop of unscented pet shampoo. Wet a washcloth and in the basin and wring it out. Then rub gently on your hamster. If there are suds or any kind of lather, you've used too much shampoo. Start over.
Swab your hamster with the cloth.
Very carefully rub in the direction of its fur, like you would when you're petting it.
Wipe your hamster off with a soft, dry towel.
Gently wipe your hamster with a very soft towel in the direction of its fur to remove water and dampness.
Place your hamster back in its cage.
Be sure the cage is clean and fresh, and place the cage in a place that is a little warmer than normal if possible. Make sure there's absolutely no cold air draft.
Bathing Your Hamster
Consider whether a bath is absolutely necessary.
Only consider this if your hamster has come in contact with a toxic substance that can't be spot cleaned, and you can't bring it immediately to the vet. It is not uncommon for hamsters to die from being bathed, either by drowning or because they got sick after the bath. Some situations that might warrant a bath include:
- It fell in something that was potentially dangerous or toxic such as neat disinfectant, white spirit, corrosive substances such as an acid, nail polisher remover.
- The coat got covered in something that would be toxic or cause a stomach upset if the animal groomed and swallowed it (non-food substances such as those mentioned, or chocolate, jam, honey).
- The hamster was covered in something really sticky which could irritate the skin (chewing gum that could not be removed by spot cleaning or cutting fur) or that would cause a bowel obstruction if the hamster chewed it off the skin (blue tac, putty, wax) or a substance that would damage the skin such as urine
Fill a bowl with a couple centimeters water.
If you absolutely must bathe your hamster as a last resort, get a bowl and fill it with a couple centimeters of lukewarm water.
Bathe your hamster very gently with plain water.
Moisten your hamster, taking care to keep the water away from her face. You can also use a cloth or an old toothbrush with soft bristles to gently clean the hamster. Again, make sure not to get water on or near the hamster's face.
Add unscented pet shampoo if necessary.
If water alone will not remove the toxic or sticky substance, you can use a very small amount of the mildest unscented pet shampoo you can find. Be very careful to keep the shampoo and water away from your hamster's face.
Rinse the hamster.
If you used any shampoo, be sure to use plain lukewarm water to rinse the hamster off and completely remove any shampoo residue.
Pat your hamster dry with a soft, clean towel.
Place your hamster on top of a dry towel and use the other end of the towel or a second towel to gently pat your pet dry. If you rub, be sure to do so very gently in the direction of its fur.
Place your hamster back in its cage.
Make sure to get most of the water off before putting your hamster back in its cage to sleep off its agitation. Make sure your hamster has plenty of substrate to dry itself on and to keep it warm.
- Do not use any kind of shampoo on your hamster as it may cause irritation.
- Do not make your hamster swim because they could get tired, stop swimming, and drown.
- In addition to causing chills, soapy water can strip necessary oils from a hamster's fur and skin.
- Do not attempt to dry your hamster with a hairdryer.
- Bathing your hamster will cause it stress, which can lower its immune system. Be vigilant about signs of illness after bathing.
- A smelly hamster may be sick. Consider taking the hamster to the vet.
- Remember: If you are going to put a hamster sand bath inside your cage, check the sand every day because the hamster could be using the sand bath as a toilet and you don't want that.
- Always double check with your vet before bathing your pet.
- Do not bathe your hamster unless you need to for your hamster's health.