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Signs and Treatments of the Common Cold in a Hamster

Updated on November 09, 2016

Does Your Hamster Have a Cold?

Does your hamster have the sniffles or is he sneezing?

Sneezing and sniffling typically signals some sort of respiratory condition. Most assume those are symptoms of an upper respiratory infection, but it could be a common cold or even pneumonia.

Most mammals can develop a cold, hamsters included. So if you're not careful during the winter months, you not only have to worry about getting sick yourself, but you should be keeping a close eye out on your pets as well.

In this article, learn about the causes, signs, treatment, and prevention for a hamster cold.


Like a human cold, hamster colds are contagious. This means that your hamster can catch a cold from you. If you're sick, you'll want to make sure that you take your medication so that you can heal. But while you're battling a cold, it's best to stay distant from your pet so that he doesn't get sick too.

Other causes include:

  • If the cage is in a cold or drafty room.
  • If you've given him a bath but you don't dry him fully.
  • If he likes to sleep underneath his water bottle.
  • If you don't use a water bottle and he drinks from a water bowl, this can be a cause as well, as the water may spill.


Although the signs and symptoms may vary, here are some more common ones:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Sniffling
  • Half-closed, watery eyes
  • A warm body temperature
  • Thirst
  • The ears are laid back
  • Lack of activity
  • Fatigue
  • Discharge from the eyes and the nose
  • Matted or un-groomed fur
  • He's curled up in a ball, most often in the corner of the cage

If the cold is severe because it has gone unnoticed for a while, you may see the following signs:

  • Lethargy
  • Noticeable sneezing and sniffling
  • Refusal to eat or drink
  • Shivers
  • Weight loss
  • Very matted and unkempt fur


Once you've discovered your hamster is sick, you'll want to get him treated as soon as possible, or it can develop into pneumonia or even bronchitis. The latter are not nearly as easy to treat.

A vet can best diagnose and come up with a treatment plan, so you should seek veterinary assistance. Most will prescribe an antibiotic to help aid the symptoms. However, much like how it is in humans, there's no cure for the common cold in hamsters.

You will also want to try some of the following suggestions:

  • Keep the hamster warm. You may want to consider putting a heating pad under the enclosure. It's best to find one that is chew-proof in the case that there's a spurt of energy and the cord or pad is being gnawed on.
  • Make sure that the cage is in a warm, dry, and drought-free area.
  • Disinfect the cage, water bottle, food dish, and any toys in the cage.
  • Change the bedding to new, clean bedding.
  • Consider preparing a drink of warm milk, water, and a teaspoon of honey. If he won't drink from the bottle, get a small syringe or eye dropper and drop a few drops in the mouth. Try this for a few days.
  • Set up a Vicks humidifier in the same room. Keep it out of reach from the hamster, but close enough so that he can breathe in the Vicks. This will help with breathing and aid any congestion.

If your hamster has a severe cold, it is essential that you go see a vet for antibiotics.


  • If you're sick, take your medication and avoid close contact with your hamster until you are better.
  • Avoid putting the cage in a cold room, or one that is drafty, or has a lot of moisture in the air. For example, it's probably not the best idea to put it in an unfinished basement.
  • Don't place the cage near a window or door. In most cases, it's recommended that you don't even put the cage on an exterior wall.
  • Avoid bathing him. Hamsters don't need to get baths. They are pretty good at keeping themselves clean.

See a Vet

Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed veterinarian. The methods outlined above may or may not work for your pet. If you have any concerns, you should consult a specialized veterinarian.


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  • my 9 months ago

    My hamster is 1 1/2 years old. She is always very active but over night she became sick. Her eyes look different and she won't come out of her house and she is walking very slowly . This is NOT common of her. Please help

  • Ashley 19 months ago

    I got vicks and she still has a cold when is it going to stop!

  • Vicki 2 years ago

    My hamster is about 3 years old her tail isn't wet she hasn't had diaorea but she has a very dirty bottom. She scratches a lot we haven't changed her diet and her cage smells a day after changing it in which I do probably weekly. Any advice?

  • kighlie100 4 years ago

    my hamster is shaking and her eyes are half open put i have had her for about 2 years plz help what should i do or is she just old plz comment back im really upset and she wont sleep

  • natalie 5 years ago

    my dwarf hamster has 3 symptoms of the cold should i be worried does it have a cold or not

  • hamsters4eva 5 years ago

    what is wrong with my dwarf hamster if it is always wet around its crouch? im really worried should i be?

  • Taylor 5 years ago

    What is wrong with my hamster if he makes weird noises

  • jr125 5 years ago

    my hamster died from a cold so do this.

  • Gab4Animals 6 years ago

    Thanks for the tips, I had forgotten some of the basics. And never thought of the milk/honey solution. I have a 5 year old handicapped chipmunk which I've had since being mauled at it's youth, and this is the first time I've noticed any illness. I might have to put a small hot water bottleI put him on Baytral, and Gentamicin eye drops as nose drop. Though suggested to use Doxicycline, mine had expired. Leaving him a buffet of food to select from (Raw greens, fresh & dehydrated fruit, shelled sunflower, Pine & peanuts, and Yogurt drops), I hope that with what I'm doing and your suggestions will not only prevent this from getting worse, but have him well soon. Thanks Again!!!

  • lady lady 6 years ago

    oh, thanks for the help i was worried about my dwarf hamster getting a cold,(cause i do)

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