If your allergies have flared up since you got your new hamster, this article might help. Even if you’ve never been allergic and you’re just now starting to react poorly to hamsters, this will help make things clear.
So do hamsters cause allergies ?
Yes, hamsters can cause allergies. Any animal with fur or hair will cause allergies to flare up in a person who is already allergic. Some people who never had allergies can suddenly develop one, be it from hamster fur or cat fur or someone’s beard.
The problem is the same, whether it’s a hamster or a different animal. But back to hamsters, most allergies are because of trapped dander inside the hamster’s fur.
It’s not the fur itself but the fine particles within the layer of fur that make you sneeze, cough, your throat close up, or other severe reactions.
Now let’s talk about why pet-related (and thus hamster-related) allergies come up, and what you can do to lessen the reactions.
What you’re actually allergic to
For the most part, allergies are a pain to pinpoint. Not only are they not always immediately clear – like peanut or shellfish, for example – but they can annoyingly change over time.
But, for the most part, people with allergies react to very fine foreign particles in the air. Those particles are usually pollen or dander. Since hamsters don’t frolic in flowers all day long, only dander remains as a culprit.
You see, hamsters have skin like everyone else, and those skin cells eventually die off and get renewed. The dead skin needs to go somewhere. It’s the fact that it’s dander not our own that sets things off, really.
In humans, we wash it off. In furry animals, it stays in their fur for an amount of time. Sometimes it breaks into very very small little pieces. Not those white clumps, immediately noticeable. No, very very fine particles that stay trapped in the animal’s fur.
Once your hammy moves, those particles get released into the air. If you’re sensitive to fine particles, you’ll feel those in your nose and lungs and eventually start reacting to them.
Those are most cases. Sometimes it’s the smell itself that can trigger a reaction. Like the smell of hamster pee. Or, another trigger can be the bedding on which your hamster lives. You might be allergic to whatever bedding the hamster has, when it is in fine particles.
But most of the time it’s just the dander that sets people off.
Most pets have the potential to cause an allergic reaction
This can and does happen with every and all animals who have fur. Even those with no fur, actually. Because it has to do with the skin, not the fur.
The fur acts as a trap for the dander. But even a Sphinx cat – hairless cat – can cause allergies. It won’t trigger them for most people who have allergies. But those with severe allergies can get reactions even from a hairless cat.
This is because the dander – dead skin cells – still exist, everywhere the skin is. A hairless animal won’t have as much since most of it falls off. But there will still be some.
So the only way you can be truly sure you won’t get a reaction at all is to get an unconventional pet. That’s a fish or a reptile. Reptiles don’t shed parts of their skin, but it all comes off in one clean, simple molt. No debris and flying skin anywhere with a snake or a lizard.
And a fish is… well, underwater, so you won’t be breathing anything in.
Birds also have this amazing potential to cause allergies. Birds have a fine dusting on their feathers, to keep them waterproof and it happens to contain a bit of dandruff as well. If you’re a person with allergies, they might flare up if you get a budgie for example. Or any other bird.
My girlfriend’s parents have a pair of cockatoos. Always had birds since I could remember. When those two birdies ruffle their feathers and preen themselves, a whole layer or dandruff settles on the surfaces around them.
(If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.)
Keeping your allergies down when you’ve got a hamster
If you’ve got a hamster but you’re allergic to him, there are a few things you can do to make your reactions not as severe. The biggest problem is the dandruff, and where and how it settles.
Aside from the hamster’s fur, it can get on the carpets, curtains, on your clothes, in your own hair, and so on. So let’s see what you can do.
Do not handle the hamster. Most obvious one, and most painful one if you really love your hamster. Simply not handling him will get you as far away from his fur and dander as possible.
Regularly groom him. Never bathe a hamster, since that can be deadly for hamsters. But a light grooming with a soft comb would help get the dander off. You’ll probably need a friend to do this for you, since this will release a whole lot of dander in the air. A surgical mask won’t help much there.
Don’t let the hamster onto carpets or any textile surface. This means your bed, the floor, the curtains if he can get to them (hammies will climb your curtains if you don’t stop them), your clothes as well.
Clean the hamster’s cage often. This means twice per week. Usually you should do this once a week, but if you’re very sensitive to the particles in his cage, cleaning it out might help with the symptoms.
Carry a shot of epinephrine, or adrenaline with you. If you get into anaphylactic shock, a shot will help. This is only temporary, and you need to get to the hospital straight away.
Use an air purifier. This will trap most of the harmful particles in the air, and relieve most of your symptoms.
Visit a doctor to look for treatment options. Allergies come and go, and sometimes they even suddenly disappear. But you should still seek a professional for medical help.
A word from Teddy
I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hamsters are very fluffy and cute, but we sometimes do cause allergies. It’s nothing personal, it’s just us being hamsters.
If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life.