While hot spots are most common on dogs and cats, they can appear on almost any animal with fur, including Hamsters.
Is it REALLY a hot spot?
So here’s the thing, a lot of the time, you’ll hear “hot spot” used to describe any kind of sore that a pet may have, but hot spots (aka acute moist dermatitis) are actually a very specific kind of sore; they are a symptom rather than a disease. As DERMagic (a pet skincare website run by vet technicians) explains, hot spots are “caused by something, an infection (bacterial or fungal) or some other kind of irritation (bug bite or thorn or small cut, for example). A hot spot is not a warm place, a reddish skin irritation, or a rash. A hot spot is a place where your pet has literally chewed the fur and skin right off, leaving an open, oozy wound that won't heal.” It’s important to notice whether the skin irritation on your pet looks more like a sore or rash and whether or not it’s open/oozing. (Yes, we know that’s gross, but hot spots are unfortunately both gross and uncomfortable for your pet so you should always pay close attention to their skin and behavior). Unlike with most rashes or sores, with hot spots, often the infection is fungal, not bacterial, so make sure your vet tests for the cause because treatments differ. If antibiotics are given when fungus is present, the fungus will bloom and grow and the hot spot will get worse while your pet also has to deal with unnecessary antibiotics which may have other side effects.
In general, the kinds of rashes and sores that pet owners think are hot spots are actually just caused by more regular skin irritants, but if they are left untreated, these areas can become hot spots.
Well, hamsters have fur, don’t they? As we discussed above, while these irritations are not always necessarily “hot spots,” hamsters do get sores on their skin that are very similar to the affliction of cats and dogs. Fur can trap bacteria and heat, leading to the formation of the sores. Most often, they’re found on the stomach, sides, and head. There are a variety of other things that can cause sores on hamsters:
Chin sores: Can be caused by leaky water bottles that run down their chins as they try to drink or from the hamster rubbing its face on the bars of their cage (if they live in a wire cage). The face rubbing can be a result of anxiety or stress if their cage is too small, so watch for that and other possible stressors as well.
Leg sores: Sometimes the metal exercise wheels that hamsters use can cause enough repetitive friction against their legs that sores eventually form and are worsened by bacteria and other factors if they’re not found.
Other sores: Hamsters, like cats or dogs, can over-groom themselves, repeatedly biting or licking certain areas, and this can cause sores and hot spots anywhere on the body.