A hamster uses its cheek pouches to carry food and bedding material. Occasionally an item may become stuck to the lining of the pouch. This usually occurs with fluffy bedding or sticky foods such as chocolate or toffee (these items should therefore be avoided). Sharp items of food may also pierce the lining of the pouch and become stuck. The hamster is then unable to remove the item from its cheek pouch and this can lead to an infection or abscess.
If a hamster appears to be unable to empty its cheek pouches or any lumps remain continually in the pouch veterinary treatment should be sought. Often syringing the cheek pouch with lukewarm water will remove the offending item, or it may be necessary for the vet to physically turn the cheek pouch inside-out to remove the item. Antibiotic treatment may be needed if the cheek pouch has become infected.
Once treated, full recovery is usually made within a few days.