Can You Be Allergic to Hamsters? Vet Approved Tips to Relieve Symptoms

22 views 7:56 am 0 Comments March 15, 2024

Hamsters are common pets for people across the globe. These small rodents are popular pet choices because they’re easy to care for and not very demanding, so people can easily fit them into their lifestyles.

Despite their small size and low-maintenance needs, however, hamsters are not the perfect pets for everyone. Some people can experience an array of allergy symptoms when around them, such as sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes.

That means it’s possible for someone to be allergic to hamsters, but why and how do these allergies occur?

In this article, we talk more about hamster allergies and how to relieve the symptoms!

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Why Do Hamsters Cause Allergies in People?

For allergy sufferers, allergies can often be annoying and tiring, especially when the person is unsure of the source of their allergy. Most people believe that they’re precisely allergic to the animal that they own, but this is not always true.

If you’re experiencing allergic reactions and have a pet hamster, your pet may not be the main culprit. Other pet-related foreign substances can also cause allergic reactions.

Here are the three main allergens that cause hamster allergies in people:
  • Dander — Dander is dry, dead flakes of skin that easily spread through the air as your hamster grooms and sheds, leading to various allergic reactions in allergy sufferers.

  • Saliva The hamster’s saliva contains animal protein, which is what causes allergic reactions in humans.

  • Urine — The urine of these small rodents contains chemicals that can cause an allergic reaction in some people. These chemicals can also end up in the air as your furry companion moves around the enclosure, causing reactions that way.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Hamster Allergies?

Hamster allergies are similar to any other pet allergies, in that sufferers can experience a reaction that can trigger different health issues.

People who are allergic to hamsters can experience an array of nasal, skin, eye, and respiratory signs and symptoms, including:

  • Watery eyes

  • Itchy and runny nose

  • Itchy throat

  • Itchy skin

  • Hives

  • Coughing

  • Sneezing

  • Eczema and skin rashes

  • Facial pain and pressure

  • Wheezing

  • Swelling

These can vary from person to person depending on their sensitivity to the allergens. A few of these symptoms can also be indicators of a common cold; the main difference between the two is that allergy signs should improve or stop when you are away from the allergen.

woman sneezing on a tissue paper
Image Credit: aslysun, Shutterstock

Are Hamsters Allergy-Friendly Animals? Can They Be Good Pets for People With Allergies?

Hamsters are not hypoallergenic, but they can still be suitable companions for allergy sufferers. They spend most of their time inside their enclosure and don’t require much handling. This means their dander has less chance of spreading throughout the house and affecting a particular allergy sufferer.

So, if you’re an allergy sufferer who’s determined to have a pet, a hamster could potentially be a good choice for you. While many other pets are considered to be more hypoallergenic, you should know that any animals with fur can’t be entirely hypoallergenic, as they all produce dander.

What Can You Do to Relieve Your Hamster Allergy Symptoms?

If you have a pet hamster but suffer from hamster allergies, there are several things that you can do to be more comfortable around your pet and experience fewer symptoms:

  • Try to handle your hamster only when necessary — If you suffer from hamster allergies but have a pet hamster, it’s best to reduce handling to a minimum to prevent reactions. When and if your hamster needs handling, try to include another family member and ask them for help instead of risking your health.

  • Practice regular grooming — Hamsters are low-maintenance animals that need light grooming to stay in good shape. Regularly grooming your hamster will also reduce the chance of allergens reaching the air and harming you. Asking a family member to help with grooming is a good idea.

  • Don’t let your hamster wander around your home — Some hamsters enjoy a good cuddle, or some supervised exercise outside their enclosure. Keep them out of the bedrooms and off soft furnishings, and, if possible, take them outside to stretch their legs rather than allowing them to roam your home.

  • Keep your hamster’s cage clean — If you want to reduce your allergies and relieve symptoms, cleaning the cage twice per week should be enough to keep it in good shape, remove any dirty or soiled bedding material every day, and each week perform a full clean out of their cage, including complete replacement of bedding material. If you can, have someone else perform this task so you can minimize your exposure to allergens like dander and urine.

  • Keep up good hygiene practices — Always wash your hands after handling your hamster, as that will lower the chances of allergic reactions.

  • Use air purifiers inside your home — Using an air purifier is a great way to relieve hamster allergy symptoms, as this will clean the air and trap harmful particles that trigger allergies.

  • Speak with a doctor about possible treatment options that you can explore — Allergies come and go, but they can often be very annoying for people who are experiencing them; if you experience frequent allergic reactions to your pet hamster, it might be good to speak with a doctor. They can suggest possible treatment options that can relieve your symptoms and help you fight your allergies.

Online consultation with doctor
Image Credit: kamleshverm, Pixabay

What Should You Do If Your Symptoms Are Not Improving?

Like all animal allergies, hamster allergies can come and go; sometimes, you experience severe symptoms, while other times, the symptoms are milder and easier to handle. However, this situation is not to be taken lightly, as you could end up having an extreme allergic reaction, such as asthma and sinus infection.

So, if you have a hamster allergy and your symptoms are not improving despite your efforts to relieve them, visit your doctor, as they will run additional tests and give you practical medical advice.

In this situation, it’s common for the doctor to have you do an allergy test to confirm the source of your allergy. Depending on the outcome, you may need to intake medications, such as antihistamines, corticosteroids, and decongestants, to alleviate your symptoms.

Sufferers of severe allergies may need to accept that they need to have a pet-free home, or only hairless creatures; they still produce dander, but the lack of fur to retain saliva and urine etc. means that they are as close to a fully hypoallergenic pet you can get, without delving into the interesting world of reptile and aquatic pets. Examples include the Sphynx cat, Mexican hairless dog, “Skinny Pigs”, and even the Hairless Hamster!

Do All Pets Cause Allergies?

All furry and hairy pets, including hamsters, dogs, cats, and guinea pigs, can all cause allergies in humans. Short-haired animals and breeds that are born hairless can also lead to allergies as the allergens are located in their saliva and urine.

That’s why animals like fish and reptiles are considered the best options for allergy sufferers because they don’t have hair or feathers. While these critters are not overly cuddly, they can still be excellent pets and provide companionship to those who need it.

man with new fishes near the aquarium
Image Credit: M-Production, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

If you’re prone to pet allergies, you could be allergic to hamsters. Despite their small size, these rodents can cause major allergic reactions in some people, which is why you should be cautious when handling them.

If you have a pet hamster and suffer from hamster allergies, it’s best to follow these tips to relieve your symptoms. You might also need to consider getting another pet, preferably a reptile or a fish, as these are known as allergy-free animals.


Featured Image Credit: Stratos Giannikos, Shutterstock

The post Can You Be Allergic to Hamsters? Vet Approved Tips to Relieve Symptoms appeared first on Pet Keen.

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