Sick Hamster - Signs and Treatment of Upper Respiratory Illness in Hamsters

Updated on June 12, 2018

Hamster Breathing Problems

Probably the most common illness in hamsters besides wettail is going to be a respiratory infection. It's very common among hamsters that come from pet stores, as in most cases they're stressed so their immune system is weakened, making them more susceptible to developing the disorder.

If you notice that your hamster is having breathing problems that aren't going away, then you want to see a veterinarian that is knowledgeable in small animals so that you can either rule out or diagnose the illness.

You don't want to sit and wait to hope that it just goes away, as a simple infection can case pneumonia which can be fatal if not treated.

Cause of Respiratory Infection

Respiratory illnesses are very contagious hamster to hamster. If your hamster came from a pet store that had other sick hamsters- whether they showed signs while you were there or not, more than likely you're hamster will catch it if he doesn't already have the illness.

Otherwise, hamsters can become ill from people. If you're sick, you can actually get your hamster sick, so if you have a cold or other respiratory condition, stay away from close contact with your hamster.

Other basic causes can include:

  • The hamster being located in a cold or drafty room
  • If he gets wet and isn't able to dry himself properly
  • If there is a leaking water bowl in the cage

Signs of Respiratory Infection

Basic signs are those that are respiratory related- sneezing, wheezing, and labored breathing. But, you may also see discharge from the eyes and/or nose, loss of appetite, and lethargy. If you notice that your hamster is in a stretched out position or gasping for air, these are signs of a more severe case of a respiratory infection, and you need to see a veterinarian soon.

Your hamster may also collapse in exhaustion after just light or mild exercise.

A sneeze here and there typically won't be that big of a deal, but when it's is accompanied by the other signs, you'll definitely want to seek veterinarian assistance.

A respiratory infection can lead to pneumonia, which is why it is important that it is diagnosed and treated as soon as you think something is wrong with your hamster.

HomeoPet Nose Relief, 15 ml
HomeoPet Nose Relief, 15 ml

The natural medication really works to help ease the symptoms so that your hamster can recover. I've used this products on cats and hamsters. You just need to adjust the dosage based on the instructions in the package.


Hamster Respiratory Illness Treatment

A veterinarian should diagnose the illness. In most cases, the vet will prescribe an oral antibiotic. This will help treat the infection so that your hamster will make an easier and quicker recovery.

It is very important that you separate the sick hamster from any other hamsters, as the illness is very contagious to other hamsters.

If you're looking for a natural treatment, consider HomeoPet Nose Relief. I've also used HomeoPet Nose Relief to ease congestion and runny nose often caused by respiratory infections.

You may also want to consider removing the exercise wheel and reducing the amount of exercise and play that your hamster gets. Also, remove any dusty bedding. You may want to use a paper towel bedding until the hamster has overcome the illness.

Disclaimer: 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 reptile veterinarian.

Questions & Answers


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      • profile image

        None 6 weeks ago

        If your hamster us squeaking it's because it is scared or cold or stressed.

        :and if your hamster bites you she or he is scared of you but never take your hamster outside.

        I hope this helped

      • profile image

        :c 3 months ago

        my hamster keeps squeaking day & night he would not stop squeaking.When im about to take it out for an exercise it doesnt let me touch it and bites me

      • profile image

        10 months ago

        My roborovski hamster continuousley squeaks whenever he is awake or moving around. He squeaks as he breaths so I suspected he has some sort of respitory problem?? Any suggestions??

      • profile image

        Alison 2 years ago

        My panda hamster is still poorly . I took her to the vet 12 days ago now she's got a cold that turned into a respiratory infection . And a eye infection . I ve now finshed her antibiotics and still treating her eye . Shes not very active .and i can still hear shes got a cold . Any advice please . As im worried

      • profile image

        ben 3 years ago

        Take your hamster to yhe vets


      • profile image

        no name 3 years ago

        my hamster is in the advance stages of pnoiname

      • profile image

        Savonnah 4 years ago

        To Sonia my hamster did that too but they said something burst in his side and had to be put to sleep

      • profile image

        abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 6 years ago

        My hampster just died .I don't know what happened I went to feed her and she did not move skared me she was 3-4 yeas old

        February 20 love you morgen

      • profile image

        Guest 6 years ago

        I,hopefully,am getting a teddy bear hamster but i have a drafty bedroom.Also,my bedroom is the only place i can keep a hamster.I want another one REALLY BAD.So what do i do to keep my coming hamster from being sick?Should i put a blanket over the cage?PLEASE ANSWER QUICK.

      • profile image

        hayley 6 years ago

        my dwarf hamster has a swollen eye what can i do to treat it?

      • profile image

        Lily 6 years ago

        My European black bear hamster died and He wad drooling a lot and it almost looked like he had the hiccups and was laying on his side, was it from a respiratory infection?

      • profile image

        Danielle 7 years ago

        i think my hamster is dieing, she has got a scabby nose , struggling to breath, wont eat, struggles to walk anywere and just lies in da corner of her cage. and round her bum its all wet and smells horrible. Do u no what i can do because i don't want her to die :(. Please help. thanks

      • profile image

        sonia 7 years ago

        I Am Comforting my sick hampster now, his eyes are weeping, his stomach us larger than usual he's not pooing regulary, he's refusing to eat and drink water, all he dose is rest in his bed and cuddle when i hold him, which is unusual for my hampster, he is also squeeking and making wiered noises like he is having trouble to breath, i haven't got a close vet to where i am near, and wondering if there is anything i can do or give my hampster to ease off the pain he may be in ?

      • profile image

        Alyssa 7 years ago

        I just adopted/rescued a teddybear, he's sneezing and weezing a lot but i'm not sure how old he is. After reading what you have posted on here it seems he has a respriatary infection. Im not sure if its from stress or not he's also go a bald patch on his right shoulder. any opinions?

      • profile image

        Natasha 7 years ago

        My Hamster has just got back from the vet, had respriatary problems which lead to phumonia and severe dehydratiion, we was told more and likely he wouldn't make it but little fighter pulled through!

      • profile image

        Sherri Hope 7 years ago

        My hamster was also very poorly,I took him to the local vet who said he could have a lung infection.He was still very active just really wheezing.The antibiotics cost £24..

        I have found getting him to take them hard..Tried injecting it into a grape the best way.Also suggested Cranberry juice in his water.It is a week now and he is on the mend..I would not leave a hamster that is wheezing.I really thought I would lose him...

      • Whitney05 profile image

        Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

        A vet would be your best option to have the hamster properly diagnosed and treated. It sounds a little like an upper respiratory infection, which the hamster may or may not overcome on its own. In a way, it's like a cold in a human, where we take medicines to help with the symptoms while our body fights off the virus. Watch for labored breathing and wheezing.

      • profile image

        Please Help 7 years ago

        My hamster is sneezing at least a lot, I did have a tiny bit of water accidentally come on his nose but he is eating an more or less energetic. He was in a stretched out position but was fine breathing. I can't afford a vet right now. Is my baby going to be okay, or should I be panicking!! PLEASE HELP!!!!!

      • profile image

        Kitten71 8 years ago

        the hair is growing back now but now he is being really pissy wont let you pick him up and he was a very cuddle hamster before

      • Whitney05 profile image

        Whitney 8 years ago from Georgia

        Mites is a concern that will cause them to lose hair.

      • profile image

        Kitten71 8 years ago

        i have a dwarf hamster and i woke up the other morning i noticed the one side of his face by his nose was missing fur what could it be and just to let you know he dosent really chew on the bars

      • Whitney05 profile image

        Whitney 8 years ago from Georgia

        No currently, but I have had hamsters in the past

      • drbj profile image

        drbj and sherry 8 years ago from south Florida

        Whitney - you're so knowledgeable about hamsters. Just wondered - do you have a pet hamster yourself?


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