Hamsters are playful and lively animals, and they make very good pets. In general, they are robust and healthy. However, when they do get sick, respiratory illnesses are a common cause. Unfortunately, respiratory illnesses can quickly go from bad to worse in hamsters. The faster you recognize the signs of illness and take your hamster to the vet, the sooner it will receive treatment and begin to feel better.
Part 1 of 3: Observe the physical symptoms
Step 1. Look at the hamster's nose and eyes
Respiratory diseases can cause a number of symptoms in hamsters. For example, a hamster with respiratory problems may have a thick, mucus-like discharge from the eyes and nose. This discharge is cloudy or yellow.
If the hamster has a respiratory illness, the eyes and nose may also be red
Step 2. Observe and listen to the hamster's breathing
Respiratory diseases make it difficult for hamsters to breathe. The hamster may wheeze, causing its chest to visibly expand and contract with each breath. You may hear wheezing, as well as possible rales or crackles, when you breathe.
Step 3. Detect sneezing
If the hamster has a respiratory illness, it may start to sneeze. If he sneezes, you may see a discharge coming from his nose.
Step 4. Look at the hamster's fur
A healthy hamster will have a shiny coat. One with a respiratory disease, on the other hand, will have a dull coat. If he is sick, his coat will lose its natural, healthy shine.
Step 5. Observe the physical state of the hamster
In general, hamsters with respiratory illnesses will not look very good. The disease will cause the hamster to eat less, which will lead to weight loss. If you have a respiratory disease, you will look thinner than normal.
Step 6. Watch for shaking and chills
Hamsters with respiratory illnesses may begin to shiver and shiver. This may be because they are cold.
Part 2 of 3: Noticing Behavioral Changes
Step 1. Determine if the hamster eats less
A respiratory illness can make the hamster feel so bad that it doesn't want to eat much. If you are concerned that your pet has lost his appetite, measure the amount of food you feed him each day. At the end of the day, he measures how much he leaves in the cage.
Remember that hamsters tend to accumulate food in their cages. However, if yours shows other signs of respiratory illness, you may see leftover food in the cage because it is sick and does not want to eat, not because it accumulates food
Step 2. Pay attention to the decrease in activity
Healthy hamsters are very playful and active. However, if yours is sick, he won't feel like playing. Instead, you may want to curl up on your bed and not move around much. Decreased activity may be the first sign you notice of a respiratory illness.
If your hamster looks sick and stays in bed, don't try to force him out to play
Step 3. See if he's in a bad mood
Sick hamsters can get very grumpy. For example, if you try to grab your hamster when it is sick, it may bite you. If he seems more irritable than usual, leave him alone in his cage.
Part 3 of 3: Receive a Veterinary Diagnosis
Step 1. Take the hamster to the vet
Respiratory illnesses can make hamsters sick very quickly. Because they are so small, invading bacteria or viruses can quickly overcome your immune system. What starts out as a mild cold can turn into a severe case of pneumonia. If you recognize the signs of a respiratory illness in your pet, call your vet right away to make an appointment.
Step 2. Have the vet examine the hamster
If you take him to the vet's office, he will first observe him in his cage. Then they will examine you from head to toe, and listen to your heart and lungs. If he's having trouble breathing, your vet will give him extra oxygen before doing the physical exam.
Step 3. Answer the vet's questions
During the physical exam, your vet will ask you questions about the hamster disease. For example, it will ask you what symptoms you have observed and when you first noticed them. Also, because respiratory disease can be transmitted from hamster to hamster and from humans to hamsters, your vet will ask if you or the hamster's cage mates are sick.
Poor habitat conditions (such as exposure to drafts) can make a hamster sick. The vet may ask you about the environment in which your pet lives
Step 4. Allow the vet to identify the "culprit" organism
Respiratory diseases in hamsters are caused by bacteria (Pasturella or Streptococcus) and viruses (influenza virus). To treat your pet more effectively, your vet will need to know what specific organism is causing the disease. To do this, he will take a sample of fluid from the hamster and analyze it.
Step 5. Have the vet take X-rays of the hamster
If the vet thinks he has pneumonia, he may want to take chest X-rays. Chest X-rays will help the vet determine the severity of the pneumonia. X-rays of the skull can also be helpful in viewing the nasal passages.
- Unlike other caged pets, hamsters can catch colds from people.
- Hamsters experience respiratory illnesses less frequently than rats, mice, and guinea pigs.