Inflammation of the Lungs in Hamsters

PetMD Editorial
Jul 09, 2010
2 min read
Image: Photo Grapher / via Image Bank

Pneumonia in Hamsters

Pneumonia, or inflammation of the lungs, is not usually encountered in hamsters. When it does occur, it is typically the result of an infection with one or more kinds of bacteria, sometimes in conjunction with viruses or other types of infectious agents. These infections are especially hard for the hamster to fight off when there are stress-inducing changes to the environment, such as a sudden change in room temperature.

Because pneumonia is contagious, separating those that are suffering from the condition is important for preventing and controlling outbreaks. It is also vital that you keep their cages and living area clean.

Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Dull and depressed appearance
  • Loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss
  • Constant sneezing and/or coughing
  • Respiratory distress
  • Mucus discharge from the nose and eyes

Causes

Pneumonia in hamsters is usually the result of an infection with one or more kinds of bacteria, sometimes in conjunction with viruses or other types of infectious agents. It is then transmitted into the air by a pneumonic hamster sneezing and/or coughing. It is important to note that stress increases the chances for the development of pneumonic symptoms in hamsters.

Diagnosis

In addition to a thorough physical examination of the hamster, special laboratory tests can help confirm a diagnosis of pneumonia. This may include examining discharge from the eyes or nose or blood samples, from which the causative organism may be identified. X-rays may also confirm the presence of pneumonia in the lungs.

Treatment

Unfortunately, treatment is not effective in severe cases of pneumonia. Hamsters with mild cases of pneumonia, meanwhile, respond well to treatment, though this typically involves treating the signs rather than the condition itself. For example, oxygen therapy may be administered to help the animal breathe easier. However, if the pneumonia is caused by a bacterial infection, your veterinarian will likely prescribe long-term antibiotics.

Prevention

It is vital that you remove any pneumonic hamsters from the healthy animals to prevent the spread of infection. Keep those that are infected in a calm and clean area so that they may rest. Avoid overcrowding the cages and keep them warm, dry, and free of soiled bedding material.

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