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How To Comfort a Dying Hamster [Saying The Best Goodbye]

Sadly, as pet parents, we will eventually face the question ‘how to comfort a dying hamster.’

We never get enough time with our beloved pet; hamsters, unfortunately, have a relatively short lifespan, which is further affected in urban environments, according to a study. (1)

However, you can choose to make their last days more fun and comfortable, which I can hopefully help you with here.

Key Takeaways

  • Differentiating between a dying and a hibernating hamster
  • Five ways to comfort a dying hamster
  • Memorable things hamster owners can do

Five Ways to Comfort a Dying Pet

Dealing with a dying pet is quite painful for pet owners, especially when there’s just nothing you can do to help your little friend from dying. However, you can use the following tips to comfort your pet during its last days.

hamster taking nap in hand, do hamsters like to be held

1. Make Your Hamster As Comfortable As Possible

Stress in hamsters can be quite detrimental to their well-being, even in healthy hamsters. Make sure your hamster spends its last days in a stress-free environment.

This could also help give you a few more days with your pet.

Ensure the environment is at a comfortable temperature. Avoid excessive holding and prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. Heat stress should also be avoided.

2. Maintain Normal Activities For As Long As Possible

Ensure that you continue with your usual routines and activities that you normally do with your hamster.

What are the things that you do with your pet on a daily basis? Keeping your routine can reduce the development of stress during this difficult time, thus making your hamster as happy as possible.

Filling food and water bowls, cleaning up their dirty cage, etc., shouldn’t be skipped. Interact with your pet by offering its favorite food and creating some happy memories.

Try adding an extra layer of bedding to keep your friend super comfortable and warm.

3. Don’t Introduce Them To New People or Locations

Introducing dying or sick hamsters to new people or animals can distress your unwell pet. If your hamster doesn’t have any contagious diseases, leave their cage mates with them, as this will provide them with comfort. 

Keep them in their original habitat, as any changes will cause upset.

4. Talk To Your Vet

Talk to your veterinarian to find out if there are measures that can be taken to boost your pet’s immune system. This could also help in giving your pet a few more days of life.

You can get recommendations on the type of food to give your pet hamster during this period and any other comforts that might help.

5. Choose Euthanasia If Need Be

If your pet is going through a painful death, sometimes euthanasia is a final kindness that you can provide your pet. (3)  Speak to your vet, who can advise you on the most compassionate approach to take. 

As you watch your pet in its final days, watch out for behavioral signs that may indicate feelings of pain or stress. This can help you make this heart-wrenching decision.

The emotional pain from having to think of your dying pet can be a tough thing to deal with. Watch this video to see how some pet owners cope.

Now, let’s consider memorable ways to spend the last days with your pet, which is an important part of how to comfort a dying hamster.

Read our complete guide about the hamster dying process.

Memorable Things to Do With a Dying Pet

The following is a compilation of things you can do to make the last days with your pet memorable.

  • Spend Quality Time With Your Pet

During the last days with your dying pet, spend more time giving them loads of attention. Consider providing delicious treats if your pet hamster can still eat.

Cuddly affection with your pet during this time will also help create wonderful positive memories.

  • Memorial Services

A funeral can be a great idea for honoring your little friend and keeping great memories after they have died.

  • Talk To a Friend To Help With The Arrangements

Talk to a friend to help make arrangements at the pet cemetery. If you’re also considering private cremation or communal cremation, you could talk to a friend to help with it.

How Can You Tell that a Hamster is Dying, and Not Just Hibernating?

To determine whether your hamster is dying or hibernating, try increasing the ambient temperature above 20°C for a while and watch what happens. Your hamster will wake up if hibernating.

a hamster at owner's hand, hamsters vision

The following is a list of tips that will help you differentiate between a dying/dead hamster and a healthy hamster that is just hibernating.

  • Check If Your Pet Hamster Is Still Breathing

Breathing rate is one of the outward signs you can check to determine if your pet hamster is dying or hibernating.

You should expect a hibernating hamster to still sustain a breathing rate of one breath per minute or longer due to the cold weather.

Vets state that “Watch very closely for several minutes, as during hibernation the breathing rate slows to as little as one breath every two minutes.” (2)

To check for breathing rate, apply your finger lightly to your hamster’s chest and try to sense the chest movements.

  • Consider The Ambient Temperature

Ambient temperatures can help determine if your hamster is dying or hibernating. Try increasing the temperature above 20°C for about 24 hours. The hamster should wake up if it is hibernating.

A heat lamp is a good option for raising ambient temperatures and keeping a hamster warm.

  • Check For Appetite

One of the vital signs that your pet is healthy is a good appetite for food.

If the food bowl and water bowls have been left untouched for a few days by your domestic hamster even when what you served was your pet’s favorite treat, then your hamster might be dying.

  • Check The Hamster’s Heartbeat

Although the rate of metabolism is reduced in hamsters during hibernation, an extremely low heartbeat (lower than once per minute) is indicative of a sick or dying condition in a domestic hamster.

Check more basic hamster care.

Did you confirm that your pet is dying? That could be pretty hard to deal with emotionally. I have a few tips for you for comforting a dying pet. Let’s run through them.

FAQs

1. What causes a hamster to die suddenly?

Old age, an infection, an accident, an injury sustained from a fight with a mate, poor hygiene, malnutrition, stress, and many more are causes of sudden death in hamsters.

2. How long do hamsters live?

hamster seeing human but can hamsters see in the dark

Life expectancy in hamsters is about 1-2 years. Hamsters that live up to 2-3 years are rare to find. Generally, the lifespan of hamsters depends on the breed.

3. What comfort food or toys can I get for a dying hamster?

Food with high moisture content, such as watermelon, apples, and cucumber, are good for a dying hamster. You can also get your pet some climbing toys that can help with their quality of life.

Conclusion

Knowing how to comfort a dying hamster is a great way to ensure your pet enjoys life as much as they prepare to pass on. The last days you spend with your cutie is worth all the effort and you won’t regret it.

If you have any tips or suggestions or want to share your experience of losing a much loved pet, please share them in the comments.

sick hamster inside the cage

Resources

  • 1. CIRCLE OF LIFE: THE COMMON HAMSTER [Internet]. Research Gate. Integrative Zoology; 2019 [cited 2022 Nov 15]. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/332416320_CIRCLE_OF_LIFE_THE_COMMON_HAMSTER_CRICETUS_CRICETUS_L_1758_ADAPTATIONS_TO_URBAN_ENVIRONMENT
  • 2. Is my hamster hibernating or dead? [Internet]. Veterinary Practice. [cited 2022 Nov 15]. Available from: https://www.veterinary-practice.com/article/is-my-hamster-hibernating-or-dead#:~:text=If%20it%20is%20cold%20enough
  • 3. A final act of kindness: The humane side of euthanasia [Internet]. Animal Humane Society. [cited 2022 Nov 15]. Available from: https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/news/final-act-kindness-humane-side-euthanasia
Ben Roberts
Ben Roberts

My name is Ben Roberts, and I absolutely love animals. So, naturally, I love writing about them too! As far as my animals, I have a Pit-bull, a Beagle-lab mix, a Chihuahua, and one old cat. Each one of them provides me with a new adventure every day. And the best part is they’re all best friends. Well, except the cat when he gets a little annoyed.
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