Hamster Pyometra – Types, Symptoms, & Treatments

vet checking for signs of hamster pyometra

Pyometra is one of the most deadly conditions female hamsters have to deal with as they get older. It affects the uterus, grinding the hamster’s reproductive system to a halt. It can also be life-threatening when prompt treatment is not sought.

Hamster pyometra is an infection of the uterus and may come in 2 forms. Open pyometra results in blood or pus oozing from the cervix while closed pyometra involves accumulated blood in the uterus that swells the belly in a pregnancy-like manner. 

Female hamsters are at risk of suffering pyometra once they reach sexual maturity. While it is more prevalent in elderly hamsters, the condition can strike at any age. Females with litter and those that have never given birth are both at risk of hamster pyometra.

What Causes Hamster Pyometra?

Pyometra is caused by the presence of harmful bacteria such as Streptococcus or E. Coli in the uterus or surrounding regions. Hormonal or structural changes in the uterine area can increase the risks of your pocket rodent suffering the condition.

The disease-causing bacteria typically enter the hamster’s reproductive system during the normal estrus cycle. Uterine conditions at this point are suitable for rapid bacterial growth and reproduction making the hamster susceptible to developing.

Other ways harmful bacteria may enter the female hamster’s reproductive cycle include:

  • Mating 
  • Pregnancy 
  • False pregnancy 
  • Spay surgery 

Types of Pyometra in Hamsters 

Pyometra affects hamsters in 2 main ways i.e. Open and Closed pyometra. Here are the common signs of each type to help you identify the differences.

Open Pyometra 

Open pyometra is characterized by constant leakage of blood or pus from the uterus through the cervix. The bleeding can be consistent and usually comes with a distinct foul smell. 

Since bleeding is the main sign of open pyometra, most hamster parents are able to identify the problem early. In rare instances, the hamster’s urine may flush out the blood or pus leading to a false alarm of bladder problems instead of pyometra.

Any sign of pus or blood from a female hamster should ring alarm bells since hamsters do not menstruate. If you spot signs of blood in a female hamster’s bottom, chances are she’s suffering from pyometra.

Closed Pyometra

Closed Pyometra occurs when the hamster’s uterus builds up pus or blood. The accumulated blood gets poisoned over time, leaking to the stomach, and increasing the risk of further infections.

Unlike open pyometra, the blood or stinky pus does not leak out of the hamster’s vagina. Over time, the tummy becomes enlarged and can be easily confused with pregnancy.

A higher percentage of hamsters lose their lives to Closed Pyometra compared to the Open type due to the inconspicuous symptoms of the former. In most cases, the poisoned blood spreads to other vital organs before the condition is detected.

In extreme cases, the hamster’s uterine walls may even rupture due to the large buildup of blood or pus over a long period. We recommend booking an appointment with a vet immediately your hamster’s belly starts showing signs of swelling especially if she’s not had contact with a male.

The swollen tummy may be a result of closed pyometra or a range of conditions such as abscess, tumors, cysts, ovarian cancer, or fecal impaction.

Signs and Symptoms of Hamster Pyometra 

Pyometra may be easy or difficult to detect depending on the type and your hamster’s symptoms. While many hamsters exhibit easy-to-detect clues, you may have to look closely to spot signs of the condition in others.

Here are the most common symptoms your hamster may exhibit when suffering from pyometra.

  • Swollen waist and belly 
  • Excessive drinking 
  • Bladder problems
  • Firm stomach area 
  • Yellow discharge around the uterus area 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Cervical bleeding 

Tests and Diagnosis 

vets examining x-ray results from hamster suspected to be suffering from pyometra

Time is of the essence when your hamster is stricken with pyometra. If you notice any of the signs above or have reason to suspect the condition, a quick vet appointment can be lifesaving. 

When the symptoms overwhelmingly point to pyometra, the vet could reach a diagnosis without conducting any tests. However, in many instances, x-rays or ultrasound scans may be conducted to confirm the vet’s suspicions.

Samples of the discharge may also be swabbed for further analysis if other pyometra tests have proven inconclusive.

Can Pyometra Be Treated?

There are a few treatment options available for hamster pyometra. Your vet will discuss the choices available and give recommendations depending on factors such as the age and current condition of the hamster.

The most common treatments available for pyometra in hamsters include:

Spay Surgery or Ovariohysteroctomy

Spay surgery or ovariohysterectomy is the most definitive treatment available for hamster pyometra. It involves surgical removal of the womb and ovaries of the affected pocket rodent.

Unfortunately, not all hamsters qualify for the procedure as it carries significant risks that may lead to death, especially in older hamsters with existing health complications.

Hamsters are small animals with even smaller uterus, ovaries, and other internal organs. Surgery can be extremely delicate which is why many vets will avoid operating on these little creatures altogether. Others avoid surgery on Dwarf hamsters and the tiniest breeds as a matter of principle.

If your pyometra stricken hamster is Syrian then you’re in luck because finding a vet willing to operate on her may not be impossible. The surgery is often a breeze and the vet typically closes the surgical wound with dissolvable stitches or skin glue.

Specific instructions on how to provide delicate care for the sick hammy will then be provided.

Pyometra Surgery Costs 

Pyometra surgery costs range from $1,000-$2,000 depending on your city and the vet you choose. The surgery can be delicate and requires a lot of expertise to be successful.

Not every vet has the skill and experience to conduct pyometra surgery so seeking a recommendation from another hamster owner could be a good idea.

Unfortunately, these costs may be prohibitive for many hamster parents which is why a vet fund for such emergencies can come in handy.

Providing the Right Post-Surgical Care For Your Hamster 

Providing quality post-surgery care for a hamster after ovariohysterectomy can improve her comfort and speed up the recovery process. Recovery can be slow but as long as you’re willing to step up for your cute furball, she should be fine.

Here are vital care instructions for hamsters after the procedure:

  • Move the hamster to a plastic cage temporarily if possible 
  • Clear the cage of toys such as wheels so the only items remaining are the food bowl, water bowl, and nesting material
  • Position the water and food bowls close to her nesting area since the hamster may be too weak to move 
  • Avoid holding or petting your hamster for at least one week as she’s likely to be sore 
  • Check in but leave her alone as she recuperates 
  • Make sure her cage environment is dark and noise-free to promote good rest
  • Provide warmth for your hamster by placing her cage in a room at normal temperature. Always keep hot water bottles around to keep her cozy during the recovery period.
  • Provide treats such as low-fat yogurt to boost appetite and keep her happy
  • Always monitor your hamster for signs of infection and be ready to take her to your vet immediately you discover any troubling clues.

Antibiotic Treatments 

antibiotics for palliative care in hamsters suffering from pyometra

In some instances, antibiotics may be prescribed for treating pyometra. This is usually a temporary measure to provide some relief when surgery is not an option for some reason. Antibiotic treatments can also serve as a prelude to improving the hamster’s condition before surgery.

While antibiotics alone may not have any curative effects, they can provide relief from the dire symptoms of pyometra.

Baytril (enrofloxacin) and Septrin (co-trimoxazole) are the two most common antibiotics prescribed for treating pyometra. Septrin may be used as a standalone or in conjunction with Baytril depending on how serious the condition may be.

When surgery isn’t an option, your vet may resort to long-term antibiotic treatments for the management of the hamster’s pyometra. However, this can affect the gut bacteria population in the hamster resulting in digestion problems.

Anglepristone is one of the most effective antibiotics available for long-term management. Administered via injections, side effects can be minimal compared to other antibiotics. Galastop is another popular antibiotic that is effective for pyometra.

In some cases, your vet may combine galastop with other antibiotics to ensure effective results.

Palliative Care 

Palliative care may be the only viable option when pyometra is detected in elderly hamsters. With numerous health problems to battle with, surgery can be fatal when conducted on these aged hamsters.

A palliative care formula to manage the hamster’s pain can be vital in many ways. Combining pain killers such as Metacam (meloxicam) with enrofloxacin has proven effective in palliative care programs for elderly hamsters.

In most cases, palliative management should ease the hamster’s pain from pyometra until she passes away peacefully. Unfortunately, palliative treatments are not always effective and euthanasia may need to be considered.

The choice of euthanasia can be extremely distressing even if you know within your heart that it is for the best. Spend as much time with your hamster as possible before the appointed day comes.

Also, try to make the sick hamster as comfortable as possible by bringing substrates and other familiar items from her cage to the vet’s clinic. Offering treats such as millet spray or green apples can be a kind gesture for the cute furball during her last hours.

Is Pyometra Contagious in Hamsters?

Like all bacterial infections, E.coli or Streptococcus-induced pyometra can be highly contagious in hamsters. If you keep multiple hammies in the same cage, isolating the sick one could be lifesaving for the others.

Placing the stricken hamster in a different cage may prevent the disease from spreading to the healthy ones via physical contact with fluids such as blood and pus.


Hamster pyometra is an infection of the uterus that may lead to blood oozing from the cervix (open pyometra) or accumulating in the uterus (closed pyometra). It can be a deadly condition if detection and treatment is delayed.

Surgery is the most effective form of treatment for pyometra in hamsters. However, it may not always be a viable option, especially in elderly or weak ones. Your vet may resort to long-term antibiotic treatments such as anglepristone or galastop to minimize the effects of the condition.

These antibiotics may be combined with pain killers such as Metacam to provide palliative relief for your hamster.

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