How to Diagnose Hamster Respiratory Illnesses

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Check your hamster’s eyes and nose.,
Watch and listen to your hamster breathe.,
Detect sneezing.,
Look at your hamster’s hair coat.,
Observe your hamster’s body condition.,
Look for shaking and shivering.,
Determine if your hamster is eating less.,
Take note of decreased activity.,
Watch for grumpiness.,
Take your hamster to your vet.,
Have your vet examine your hamster.,
Answer your vet’s questions.,
Allow your vet to identify the ‘culprit’ organism.,
Have your vet take x-rays of your hamster.

Respiratory illnesses can cause a variety of symptoms in hamsters. For example, a hamster with respiratory problems may have a thick, mucus-like discharge coming from their eyes and nose.The discharge is opaque or yellow.

If your hamster has a respiratory illness, its eyes and nose may also look red.;
, Respiratory illnesses make breathing difficult for hamsters. Your hamster may wheeze when it breathes, causing its chest to visibly widen and contract with each breath.You may be able to hear the wheezing, along with possible rattling or crackling noises, when your hamster breathes.

, If your hamster has a respiratory illness, it may start sneezing.When your hamster sneezes, you may see discharge come out of its nose.

, A healthy hamster has a shiny hair coat. A hamster with a respiratory illness, though, will have a dull hair coat.If your hamster is sick, its hair coat will lose its natural, healthy sheen.

, In general, hamsters with respiratory illnesses don’t look so good. The sickness will cause your hamster to eat less, leading to weight loss.If your hamster has a respiratory illness, it will look thinner than usual.

, Hamsters with respiratory illnesses can start to shake and shiver.This may be because they’re feeling cold.

, A respiratory illness can make your hamster feel so sick that it doesn’t want to eat much anymore.If you’re concerned that your hamster has lost its appetite, measure the amount of food you feed it each day. At the end of the day, measure the amount of food left over in the cage.

Remember that hamsters tend to hoard food in their cages.If your hamster is showing other signs of respiratory illness, though, you may see leftover food in the cage because your hamster feels sick and doesn’t want to eat—not because it’s hoarding the food.

, Healthy hamsters are very playful and active. If your hamster is sick, though, it won’t feel playful. Instead, it may want to stay curled up in its bedding and not move around very much. Decreased activity may be the first sign of respiratory illness that you see.If your hamster looks sick and stays in its bedding, do not try to force it out to play.

, Sick hamsters can become quite grumpy. For example, if you try to handle your hamster when it is sick, it may bite you.If your hamster seems more nippy than usual, leave it alone in its cage.

, Respiratory illnesses can make hamsters very sick, very quickly. Because hamsters are so small, invading bacteria or viruses can quickly overwhelm a hamster’s immune system. What starts as a little cold can turn into a serious case of pneumonia.When you recognize the signs of respiratory illness in your hamster, call your vet right away to make an appointment.

, When you bring your hamster to your vet, they will observe your hamster in its cage first. Then, they will examine your hamster from head to toe and listen to its heart and lungs. If your hamster is having trouble breathing, your vet will give it extra oxygen before doing the physical exam.

, During the physical exam, your vet will ask you questions about your hamster’s illness. For example, they will ask you what symptoms you observed and when you first noticed them. Also, because respiratory illness can be transmitted from one hamster to the other, and from humans to hamsters, your vet will ask if you or the hamster’s cage mates are sick.Poor housing conditions, such as drafts, can make a hamster sick. Your vet may inquire about your hamster’s living environment.

, Respiratory illnesses in hamsters are caused by bacteria (Pasturella, Streptococcus) and viruses (flu virus).To treat your hamster most effectively, your vet will need to know which specific organism is causing the illness. To do this, your vet will take a sample of fluid from your hamster and analyze it.

, If your vet thinks your hamster has pneumonia, they may want to take x-rays of your hamster’s chest. Chest x-rays would help your vet determine the severity of the pneumonia. X-rays of your hamster’s skull may be helpful, too, to look at the nasal passages.

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