Sick Hamster - Signs and Treatment of Upper Respiratory Illness in Hamsters
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.
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, you may want to consider 'Carbo veg' or 'Arsenicum album,' but check with your vet first as to proper dosage. If your vet isn't familiar with homeopathic remedies, you may have to call around to find an all-natural, homeopathic vet.
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.
Hamster Illnesses - Sick Hamster
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.