Hamsters are pretty low-maintenance pets, and when their behavior changes, especially when they start sneezing, it can be concerning. Though occasional sneezing is typical, excessive sneezing in hamsters is usually a sign of something much more serious.
Your hamster may be sneezing because of a cold, allergies, improper bedding, or an unclean enclosure. If it appears to be sick, it might have an infection, such as a cold, flu, or another medical issue.
There are quite a few reasons your hamster may sneeze excessively, so let’s talk about each one in detail and look at the ways you can remedy your hamster.
I’ll help you determine why your hamster is sneezing and walk you through the best ways to ensure that your hamster is healthy, happy, and sneeze-free.
Healthy hamsters will occasionally sneeze, but not excessively. If your hamster sneezes frequently and seems uncomfortable, you should determine why.
Your hamster may keep sneezing because of a cold or allergies. In addition, if your hamster’s bedding is aromatic, dusty, wet, or dirty, your hamster’s respiratory tract may be inflamed. Pay attention to your hamster’s behavior for symptoms of illness.
So, let’s look at these common issues:
A cold can be easily diagnosed by examining your hamster. Respiratory infections in hamsters cause symptoms similar to those that appear in humans. So, keep an eye out for:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Lack of energy
If your hamster’s enclosure is in a cold or breezy spot, they are more likely to get sick. If this is the case, you should place your hamster in a warmer area and provide it with extra bedding (such as paper towels).
Ensure that the bedding materials contain no pine or cedar wood shavings, as these can cause respiratory tract irritation.
Hamsters have an excellent sense of smell, and some scents can be too much for them to handle.
Some common causes of sneezing due to aroma sensitivity include:
- Use of scented bedding
- Perfumes and air fresheners
- Exposure to fragrant cleaning chemicals
- Ingesting overly aromatic foods such as herbs
So, if you notice your hamster sneezing, the first thing to do is change out their bedding and use something unscented like paper shreds or another soft hamster-approved bedding.
Eliminate any fragrances from the area around your hamster’s enclosure. That means scented candles, air fresheners, and perfumes.
Try not to handle your hamster if you regularly wear cologne or perfume, and only hold your pet after a shower if you choose to wear a scent.
Sneezing can also indicate respiratory problems, including pneumonia. If you believe this is the case, it is best to immediately take your pet in to see a veterinarian, as pneumonia could become fatal if not treated quickly and adequately.
If you notice that your hamster sneezes only in their sleeping area (den), then there isn’t much you need to do at home except try to provide them with a cleaner living space.
However, if the sneezing becomes frequent or a nasal discharge is present, you should take your pet to see a veterinarian immediately.
Another possible reason for your hamster sneezing is allergies.
These allergies could come from different sources such as dust, pollen, and household chemicals. To help eliminate these potential allergens, ensure that you clean your house and frequently change your hamster’s bedding.
One common reason for hamsters sneezing is a wet nose. Wet noses can occur when your hamster has recently been in the water, had its fur washed, or drank excessively from its water bottle.
To resolve this problem, ensure that the floor of your hamster’s cage stays dry by using bedding that absorbs more moisture, such as paper shreds.
You can also temporarily remove the water bottle to ensure it’s not continuously leaking on their fur. The enclosure might be too humid if you have noticed excess condensation directly under the cage or water bottle.
In that case, you may want to either switch out bedding materials with more absorbent ones or clean the area more frequently to minimize bacteria and mold.
If you have recently changed their bedding materials and your hamster continues to sneeze, it’s likely due to the new bedding.
Hamsters are sensitive, and they will get sick if you expose them to too much dust. As I mentioned earlier, it is best to avoid using wood shavings such as cedar and pine since they are fragrant, but they can also be quite dusty.
Dust will irritate your hamster’s small, delicate respiratory tracts, so be sure only to purchase bedding that says “Dust Free” on the label.
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If you clean your hamster’s cage frequently and they begin to sneeze afterward, there may be excess bacteria or mold growing in the enclosure.
When cleaning their area, wipe away any excess condensation that might be directly under their cage and water bottle with a dry cloth before wiping the rest of the enclosure down to minimize potential bacteria and mold growth.
Be sure to keep up with maintenance and weekly bedding changes to ensure that your hamster stays healthy.
Of course, if your hamster is sneezing and appears to be sick, there might be an infection (such as a cold or flu) or other medical problem.
A veterinarian can diagnose and treat any health problems that may cause sneezing in hamsters. Remember that even though hamsters are tiny, they still need proper veterinary care, just like any pet!
If your hamster is sneezing excessively but isn’t showing symptoms of illness, take them out of their cage and check for damp or dirty spots in the enclosure.
Then, clean their bedding and wipe down any surfaces they’ve come into contact with to reduce possible allergens. Ensure the environment they are in allows for airflow between walls or holes where air can circulate freely without being too cold or too hot for them.
Finally, be careful not to handle your hamster’s nose. Touching your hamster’s nose will cause discomfort, which could cause sneezing.
If your hamster is sneezing a lot, it could simply be irritation from dust or dryness in its nose. Dry noses are common in hamsters who live in the dryer states, like New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona.
If your hamster has a dry nose due to the climate, you can use a water atomizer to moisten the inside of their nose if necessary.
If none of these steps help after a few days, consult a veterinarian for further advice. They may want to look at your hamster’s nasal passages just in case there is an infection that needs treatment.
One important thing to remember about hamsters is that they are nocturnal creatures, which means they sleep during the day and wake up at night.
Since you might not be around all of the time to see your hamster sneezing, an excellent way to tell if it’s a sneeze or a sign of distress is to observe your hamster while it sleeps.
If your hamster always seems restless and uncomfortable even while catching some Z’s, then something might not be right.
Some symptoms to look out for if your hamster is sneezing a lot include:
- Lack of appetite
- Labored breathing or wheezing sounds
- Sudden weight loss
If your hamster is experiencing any of these symptoms, you should take them to a vet for further inspection.
Always take your hamster to the doctor as soon as you notice discomfort or the above symptoms, even if you can’t pinpoint a root cause.
The sooner you get your hamster to the vet, the more likely it is that your furry friend will have a full recovery and return home with you later that day or within a few days.
Be sure to take your hamster to a credible and trustworthy small animal veterinarian.
To find a USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) accredited veterinarian in your area, search the web for veterinarians in your zip code or region and call to inquire if any of them are USDA certified.
For a list of USDA-certified veterinarians near you, contact the manager of your state’s USDA National Veterinary Accreditation Program (NVAP).
Related Hamster articles:
- Why Is My Hamster Not Eating?
- Is Aquarium Sand Safe for Hamsters?
- Why Is My Hamster Shaking a Lot
- How Do I Know if My Hamster Is Happy?
- Can You Use Regular Sand for Hamsters?
Your hamster may be sneezing excessively for some reasons as simple as excess dust or new bedding material. On the other hand, there are other, more severe causes to look out for.
If your hamster is sneezing excessively and you haven’t seen any other symptoms, such as runny eyes or nose, loss of appetite, lethargy, and so on, then your hamster is probably just fine. However, if additional symptoms are present, along with excessive sneezing, get your hamster to a veterinarian immediately.
My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more