Hamsters do sneeze and it’s actually something you should keep an eye on. It can be a sign that things are not well and your pet Hamster could have a cold.
Sneezing and sniffling are typically signs of a respiratory condition like cold or flu. Hmasters, just like humans can suffer from colds and these symptoms could be an upper respiratory infection, It could even be pneumonia.
You must seek medical advice from a veterinarian if you spot any of these symptoms.
But could it be anything else? Bedding, Diet, or Even household scents and sprays.
Well, let’s take a closer look at why your Hamster is sneezing.
How do Hamsters Sneeze?
Hamsters sneeze just like any other animal – when something irritates the nasal passages, the body reacts by trying to force that irritation out with a sneeze.
When a hamster sneezes, they may sound like they are making hiccupping noises. A sneezing hamster may also paw at their face as though “washing” their face.
What can cause a Hamster to start sneezing?
There are many reasons why a hamster may sneeze, and these range from the innocent to the more worrying.
Just like us, hamsters can sneeze because of irritation to the respiratory tract. For example, if your hamster eats something that tickles their nose while they eat, this can make them sneeze.
Irritation can be external (as in the example above,) or it can result from allergies that cause swelling or additional irritation in the nasal passages.
If your hamster is sneezing from exterior irritation, remove the item that is causing irritation, and the sneezing will stop.
If you suspect that your hamster is suffering from allergies, you will likely notice other symptoms such as runny eyes or nose. If you think allergies are a problem, avoid the causative factor (if you know what it is) and visit your vet to talk about management.
If your hamster does have allergies, your first task is to determine what caused the allergies. If you have not introduced anything new to your hamster’s life, your vet will advise an elimination diet and/or change of bedding to pinpoint the cause.
Once you determine what has caused your hamster’s allergies, your first job is to remove that item from their environment. If their allergy is the result of something that cannot be removed completely (dust mites), your vet will prescribe antihistamines.
Never give your hamster antihistamines before talking to your vet first.
Also, be aware that antihistamines can cause different side effects. If you notice side effects, contact your vet immediately to discuss whether you should continue treatment.
Respiratory infections are a common cause of sneezing in hamsters. Respiratory infections can be caused by bacteria in food, bacteria in the environment, or bacteria can be contracted from another hamster with an existing infection.
A hamster respiratory infection has many of the same symptoms as humans experience with respiratory infections
- Runny eyes
- Runny nose
- Crusted over eyes
- Decreased appetite
- Change in temperament
Respiratory infections can progress very quickly, so they must be treated immediately with a course of antibiotics from your vet.
If a respiratory infection is not treated early enough, it can turn into a much more serious infection like pneumonia. When they progress, severe respiratory infections are hard to treat and cause a lot of stress on your hamster.
What else will cause them to sneeze?
Infection, allergies, and irritation are not the only reasons for sneezing in hamsters, although they are the most common causes.
Other less common causes for sneezing in hamsters include
- Dental irritation or infection
- Cheek pouch infection or injury
- Tumor growth
FAQ – Why your hamster might be sneezing
Q. How do hamsters get colds?
Yes! Hamsters do get colds, and they can even catch a cold from you!
If you have a cold, make sure that you do not handle your hamster, or if you must handle them, do so minimally and wash your hands thoroughly before doing so! You should also keep your hamster away from your face.
Q. How can I prevent my hamster from getting sick?
There are a few things that you can do to keep your hamster from getting ill.
LIMIT THEIR EXPOSURE TO ILLNESS
Limit your hamster’s exposure to anyone with respiratory illness or a cold, as mentioned above.
BE AWARE OF DRAFTY AREAS
Keep your hamster away from drafty areas like windows and air vents. Temperature changes can contribute to illness.
KEEP YOUR ROOM A COMFORTABLE TEMPERATURE
Keep your hamster’s room at a comfortable temperature. Being too hot or too cold is not just uncomfortable for your hamster, but it can also make your hamster more vulnerable to illness.
FEED A HEALTHY DIET
Feeding your hamster an inappropriate food can lead to malnutrition and obesity, both of which can contribute to illness. A healthy diet is essential for a healthy immune system.
CLEANLINESS IS CRUCIAL!
Bacteria can quickly grow in your hamster’s bowls and their enclosure and cause a range of illnesses, so keep a regular cleaning schedule!
VET VISITS ARE IMPORTANT!
Keep up with regular vet visits. Preventative care is as important as a treatment when your hamster is ill, and it is much easier to prevent illness than it is to treat it!
Follow your vets advice
If your hamster gets ill and is prescribed a medication, always give that medication as directed. Not following dosing instructions can make a medication ineffective.
It is also important to finish all medication as directed by your vet. If you do not finish the full course of medication, your hamster’s illness may return and may return worse than it originally was.
Keep your hamster in healthy shape
Keep your hamster at a healthy weight to keep them healthy overall. Being overweight can strain the body and make your hamster more prone to illness.