|The healthiest food for a diabetic is vegetables. I feed up to 50% of their daily volume as fresh veggies. Of course, you have to arrive at this quantity very gradually, but now all my hams enjoy a similar fresh-based diet, and with no diarrhea from it. Protein is also important. I feed about 18% of daily caloric intake as protein to mine until they pass 12-15 months of age, and then gradually decrease it to avoid exacerbating any amyloidosis as their kidney function declines with age. Protein-rich foods healthful for all hamsters include steamed chicken, tofu, lentils, fat-free cottage cheese, fat-free unsweetened yogurt, unsweetened soymilk and some kitten milk replacement formulas. Some people use goat's milk, but I couldn't find it.
Diabetics have viscous blood and decreased circulation, so while all hamsters require a low-fat diet for their cardio- and cerebrovascular health and to prevent the heart attacks and strokes that are too common among them, it is critical for diabetics. To reduce fat, I remove the sunflower seeds and any nuts or other fatty seeds from commercial mixes, and avoid saturated fats and cholesterol.
Max's diabetes was very severe, and while we managed to cut his urine glucose readings by 50%, they were still ten times high normal. He often had times when he metabolized so little of his food he'd become too weak even to eat. I hand-fed him rice and bits of chicken, broccoli, spinach -- all his favorites, and kept him drinking when he was reluctant. Eventually, he drank up to three times his body weight daily, so I reduced his protein intake to help his strained kidneys. We spent many nights cuddled in a warm sweater, nibbling rice and sharing smoochies.
Puppy and a third diabetic, Bug, are doing wonderfully on this plan. Puppy survived pneumonia in April, which an amazed vet called a miracle. Nothing ever helped Max enough, and his struggle ended peacefully in June.
But when he felt good, there never was a happier hamster.
Note: If you have further questions about diabetes, you may e-mail Jane at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jane has also started a yahoogroups list for focused discussions on diabetes in hamsters. The list deals with diagnosing diabetes and learning to best treat diabetes. The list includes many people who currently have or have had diabetic hamsters as well as those who just want to understand the disease. Breeders are also encouraged to join so that they know what to look for in their animals. To join the list, send an e-mail to
|Feature Hamster: Max, a Diabetic Campbells