Respiratory Infections

Hamster Respiratory Infections


Respiratory problems in hamsters are one of the most common hamster illness. Both bacteria and viruses can cause a respiratory infection in hamsters. These can be transmitted through contact or exposure to other hamsters or pets with an illness and even humans who are sick. The following infectious bacteria and viruses can cause your hamsters to become ill:

  • acute viral rhinopharyngitis: the common cold.
  • Influenza: the flu.
  • Streptococcus: sore throats and strep throat
  • murine parainfluenza or sendai virus: respiratory tract infections
  • Pasteurella bacteria

Signs and Symptoms

The signs of a hamster with a respiratory infection include symptoms similar to what you would see in humans. These signs include:

  • Sneezing
  • Mucus discharge from nose and eyes
  • Trouble breathing or wheezing
  • Rough or irregular sounds in the chest
  • Lethargy and inactivity
  • A dull looking hamster coat
  • Shaking or shivering
  • Hunched over not eating


To prevent pneumonia or any other serious complications, you should take your sick hamsters to the vet to receive antibiotics. Some of the home remedies that pet owners use to treat a sick hamster have been known to use include keeping the hamster’s living environment at a constant warm temperature known as a heat treatment; adding vapor rub in and around the hamster cage or on the hamster’s chest to open the airways; keeping the hamster well hydrated by feeding it (through an eyedropper) a mix of milk and water or even a tea made from the herb thyme; and if you are careful, you can use an eye dropper to administer a drop of decongestant meant for humans.

How to Prevent It

The best way to prevent a hamster from getting sick from a respiratory problem is to keep its living conditions clean, feeding it a well balanced diet, allowing it exercise frequently and keeping it away from cold drafts. It’s also important to keep away from your hamsters if you or any family members are sick with a cold, cough or flu. Finally, by learning how to take care of a hamster, you can increase your chances of it staying health.

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43 comments on “Respiratory Infections

  1. My hamster seems to have ingested wood oil from the bedding which clearly states that wood oil causes cancer he seems slow and still I think he’s very sick explain

  2. My hamster has been obsessively sneezing for the past theee weeks but showing literally no other symptoms of sickness. Just absolute obsessive sneezing that is not stopping. I was thinking that it could be allergies, but he isn’t losing fur or being lethargic. I got him in December 7th 2018 and I couldn’t tell for sure if this was already happening at the pet store but it started immediately. Any help?
    Age: 7 months
    Gender: male

  3. Took my hamster to the vets a week ago and he has antibiotics for a nasty lung infection. Hes still very squeaky and poorly but the last 3 evenings when he was at his worst i used my sons blue inhaler and puffed it into his little bed. He instantly calmed down and stopped squeaking and a short while later comes out for some food and a drink. I have never been advised to use an inhaler on a hamster and no idea whether its even safe but i felt i have to try something. In my opinion this is helping him right now so i wanted to share my story incase it could help anyone else. Hope my little hammy survives

  4. My hamster, Señor Fireypaws, is eating and drinking less than normal, shakes when he slowly walks, does not respond when I open his cage door, and rarely comes out of the red house in his cage. He is slightly more active at night (being nocturnal) but not his usual self. He has slightly improved over the last 3 days but still seems pretty out of it. I have had him for about 1 3/4 years. Please help!

  5. My hamster is sneezing now and again and has curled up in a ball asleep in the corner of his cage I have put the heating on to keep him warm she also is shaking a bit and I am worried about her I have asked my parents to go to vet but mum works and dad works from home and neither can take me until the weekend will he be ok?

  6. My hamster has been sniffling and sneezing a bit and her nose gets very wet sometimes. I changed her bedding to Aspen and since I did that it’s gotten better but I’m still a bit worried since her nose still is pretty wet. Any ideas? The vet isn’t an option for me currently.

  7. my hamster got lost for 1 day and when she returned she was having this sneezing all day long non stop and she was having a hard time breathing. I fed her fruits and such, but now she have babies, and her babies seem to have the same problem as their mother. sneezing, coughing, having trouble breathing.. and they look premature. why is this so?

  8. my hamster is having breathing problems and wheezing sounds when he sniffs he squeaks I don’t know if it is his teeth but eating fine I use hamster nugguts and put them with water and let it soak and then I mash it up he loves that and it contains water he pooing fine and wees fine

  9. I have a question. our hhamster’s one eye shows some yellowish with half shut eye. I believe he has an infectious. So is there any home remedies to be treated with?

    • Thyme and boiling water, drain the thyme pieces w a coffee filter and make him like a little tea solution, this worked on my hamster he was sneezing constantly and his eye was beginning to crust shut


  11. My hamster is making a barking wheezing sound….it just started last night and she’s been staying in her house alot…plus she seems to be limping a bit (but I checked her foot and it seems ok) I’m very worried….I keep the heat up in our house to be warm…she also seems to run around her cage in weird she’s confused a bit….Any suggestions for what may be wrong with her??

    • Is she new, did you recently change your PIN environment around to a different bedding because that can be lethal with how your hamsters feel and depending on the cage if it’s a CritterTrail one it’s not the best kind for them because they can chew off the plastic and get sick and do that too my mom is a veterinarian she told me about this because right now I have strep throat

  12. Please help….
    My hamster is very lethargic and no eating or drinking,she is shaking and has a very rapid heart beat we have looked after her and given her fresh food and veg and fresh water can you give me anymore information has to what might be wrong with her please


  13. Hi, I know the latest comments on this website haven’t been getting replies so I probably won’t but my hamster had been getting out lately and we thought we had found where he was escaping and blocked it, he didn’t get out for two night, then on the weekend for two night, and he got out! Pretty sure he got out on the first night so he was out for quite a while, now he is really weak and is having trouble eating and drinking, we had to help him out of a tube because he didn’t have the strength to pull himself up (we have moved him to a cage with no tubes) it crushes my heart to see him like this, what do you think it could be, when we found him he also had brown stuff around his mouth and a line of brown connecting his upper lip and nose, please help I just want to see him better again. My parents won’t let me take him to the vet, so if there is anything I can do to help him please tell me.

    • Hi, I’m sorry to hear your hamster is not well. I’m not an expert but when the hamster was out of its cage it might have eaten something it was not supposed to. Or it could have tried to eat something non edible. I would usually advise vet care but you can’t take it to a vet. Best bet is to go to Hamster hideout or some other forums and ask there, usually hamster experts will reply to any questions you may have.

  14. need help please!!
    my hammy keep making sounds like a wheezing sort of sound n it kinda soound the same as when people hve a sore throat!!
    everytime he tries to squeek its like he’s coughing bad!!

  15. What causes a hamster to just up and die? As in I put a new little hamster in a cage with 3 other hamsters I’ve had forever, and my 3 hamsters died but the new one lived. And so thinking nothing of it is put the same new baby hamster in with my son’s hamsters and they die but the same damn little one is still alive. Can this be a disease, and if so why is the same small hamster alive and the rest die.

    • Well first of all you should never really house hamsters together when they don’t know each other, especially if they are Syrian hamsters. I don’t really know why they died but my guess is that the hamster was the carrier of a sickness possibly. Or, that they got too stressed out when you introduced your new hamster to them. Either way I would consider researching more about hamsters on YouTube or HamsterHideout forum.

  16. Hi there i need some advice, my 6 month old Russian dwarf started making strange chirping/wheazing noises even when he was eating some yogurt he was making these noises however when he went to sleep he stopped making the noises, i did notice a sneeze or two a few days ago. Is this something i should be concerned about?

    • Not PIN pen like a cagenot really my mom is a vet my hampster makes that sound sometimes and she said its normal also its because of when they consume dairy products its typical to make a sound the snezeing is natural

  17. Hello,
    Ive had my hamster for 12 days now and he is a couple months old. A couple days ago he started to breathe irregularly, it kind of looks like he had hiccups when he’s breathing. He also keeps making weird noises and scrunches up in a ball in the corners of his cage. I think he might have an upper respiratory infection, but i am not too sure. I was wondering if anybody had any suggestions about what could be wrong with him? And if he does have an upper respiratory infection is that prone to keep happening to hamster once they get it?

  18. This evening I peeked in on my symarian hanster to find her lying still on her wheele. I thought she was dead, but then she moved and when I touched her she would shake side to side like she’s having a seizure or something. Also she’s not moving much and when she does, it’s like she’s crawling and sometimes making a chattering noise. Please what is wrong with my hamster?


  19. Hi I need a little help, my dwarf hamster Strawberry, has a gap of where her fur was round her mouth, my father thinks it’s a cold sore, how do I help her?!?!

    HELP PLEASE!!!!!

  20. My hamster is 1 years old. His name is Charlie. He is very nice. But latly he has been acting really weird. His nose is dry. He is not eating drinking or moving to do anything very much. He is alive, I opened his cage he looked at me and layed back down. Earlier when i wentto play with him he bit me. He has never bit me before. I dotn know what is wrong with him can you help me? Also he is a teddy bear hamster he has white fur and red eyes.

  21. My teddy bear hamster isn’t acting the way he normally acts. He walks like he’s feeling very weak and hasn’t really been eating. I thought it’s because he lost a tooth but now I’m worried. He’s had a lot of white stuff come out of his private are and he feels really boney I didn’t think of it too much before because he was eating a lot but now I’m worried he’s been sleeping more then usual does anybody know what may be wrong with me little guy 🙁 ..

  22. I have a 3-4 month old Syrian hamster (my first) and I think she caught a cold from my partner. She’s not eating and drinking as much and spends a lot of time in her bed asleep. I have put her cage next to a radiator and been trying to keep her warm. I also fed her warm milk water and honey but I have no experience and really need to know how long it would take her to get over the cold and at what point I should be taking her to the vet. Thanks!

    • continue doing what you are…It might take a few days to a week or more to get over it. If you see the hamster take a turn for the worse or it stops drinking, then certainly consult a vet. You could always try to call one now and ask for an opinion.

    • You could try giving him small bits of cucumber or Apple by hand so he learns to aren’t going to hurt him. It takes time. When he gets used to you try to stroke him and let him sniff your hand. Eventually if you keep this up you can lay your hand out flat and he may walk onto your hand. You have to give him time to get used to you 🙂

  23. Our mother hamster is sick! She gave birth last Sept 19 to 7 babies. We haven’t cleaned out her cage for a week since I read that we’re not supposed to disturb her and her babies. We found her today looking lethargic, hunched over with wet, clothes eyes and her hair is wet. We don’t exactly know what’s wrong but I’m concerned that her babies might get infected. I tried to clean out her droppings among the shaved wood and found one of her babies dead close to her nest. Could this be the reason for her illness? The other babies are still milking from her. What do we do?

    • Giving birth can take a lot out of a hamster. She may just need time to recover but there is a good chance she is sick too due to a weaker than normal immune system. It’s hard to tell and we would recommend consulting a vet. She might needs some medication. Just make sure the mom is eating and drinking and try not to disturb them. The babies will need their mother to survive so don’t split them up. Sometime a few babies won’t make it and this is why hamsters have litters.

    • Try some oregano oil, five or six drops in her water should boost her immune system for the time tha you can’t disturb her to check out what’s wrong

  24. The chattering she makes when you take her from her home means she doesn’t like it. My hamster chatters if I have to take her from her home too.

    • Hamsters have different types of chatters. Some show happiness and excitement, others show interest and frustration. Bruxing (low pitch chatter) usually means excitement. See what kind of noises your hamster makes when she gets food and compare that to when you hold her or give her exercise. Not all chatter is negative.

  25. So I took my hamster to the vet for the following symptoms

    1. Lethargy
    2. Weight loss
    3. Refusing to eat and drink for about 3 days

    She also has some eye discharge (very little) just enough to cause one eye or the other to have “sleep” in it, and stay closed for a while. Finally, her droppings are very small (but that’s likely because she still isn’t eating).

    Since her vet trip she has been taking a special antibiotic twice a day, I’ve been giving her pedalyte watered down 50-75% at about 8mL per day, but she doesn’t seem to be getting her appetite back. She doesn’t make any noises while breathing but does chatter when I take her from her house. Her teeth appear fine, and the vet was able to observe them with a scope, agreeing that they were fine.

    Any thoughts? How long does it take a hamster to recover from a cold/flu? She is 1 year and 11 months old.

    • Your hamster needs time to fight off the infection so it takes some time; similar to how long it would take for you to get over a cold.

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