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Anna, Pet Expert/Biologist
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 11510
Experience:  40 yrs.: herps, pocket pets, rabbits, poultry, dogs, horses. Biology degree. Vet assistant.
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my hamster is sneezing like crazy. i looked it up online and

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my hamster is sneezing like crazy. i looked it up online and it said that she may be allergic to her bedding, or something in her cage, or she may have a cold. she has no sign of a runny nose and i don't think she has watery eyes. i live in maine, and it is pretty cold up here, if that makes a difference, however the room that she is in is often the warmest in the house. i cleaned her cage a couple of nights ago, and her sneezing seemed to lessen, but i just checked on her and she is continuing her sneezing almost constantly. i have newspaper in for lining, and she uses that along with her wood shavings and fluff to make her bed. i don't know what could be wrong!

what kind of wood shavings do you use?

Is there any kind of air freshener or scented candle in her room?

Do you use any spray cleaners?

Thank you for the additional information.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I have PetsPick pine bedding. She is in my room. I used to burn candles, but I don't anymore. I don't use any air fresheners or spray cleaners.
Thank you for getting back to me. I would get rid of the pine bedding at once. For a long time, we knew cedar shavings caused problems, but we've now learned that pine does, too. It gives off volatile oils that irritate the skin and respiratory systems. It could cause sneezing. CareFresh brand, in the unscented and uncolored varieties is the least likely to cause irritations. The first thing I would try is a switch to CareFresh. I also recommend that you get rid of the fluff bedding for another reason. Hamsters do love it and it provides a soft bed, but they carry their bedding around in their pouches, and fluff bedding tends to stick in the pouches. That leads to a cheek pouch impaction, which must be treated by a vet. I'm glad to hear that you don't use anything with artificial fragrance or any spray cleaners. Both can lead to all sorts of health problems.

The three most common causes of sneezing without any other symptoms are irritations, allergies, and foreign bodies in the nose. If you eliminate all bedding except CareFresh, and the sneezing continues, there is probably something stuck in your hamster's nose. Because a hamster is so small, it doesn't take much - a bit of bedding, a tiny seed, etc. If that turns out to be the problem, you will need to see a vet to have it removed. Many vets are not experienced with small rodents, and it would be best to find one who is. If you end up needing to see a vet, here is a link to a directory of rat vets (who will also be good with hamsters):

If you have more questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope the bedding change will solve the problem.


Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you very much, I will try and get rid of it as soon as I can. Do you think she would last another day or so? My parents are away and I don't have my car to go to the pet store. I may be able to go and get it tonight, however we are currently having a pretty bad nor'easter. If there is anything common I could temporarily use, I would try to use that for the night. Also, is there any other type of ''bedding enhancer'' that would be safe to use in comparison to the fluff? I've had many hamsters in the past, and I have always used it. My hamster now loves it too.
You can use plain newspaper until you can get to the pet store. the fluff doesn't cause a problem for all hamsters, but impacted cheek pouches do happen. You'll have to decide if you want to continue to use it.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Alright, I do want my hamster to be healthy. May I ask what impacted cheek pouches are?
The hamster takes something into its cheek pouches to carry it. Some of the things they pick up can be sticky or can get compacted in the cheek pouch. The hamster then can't get the material out. The symptoms include swelling of the neck or cheek, an eye that is swollen shut or has a discharge, and appetite loss.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Alright, and if I notice these symptoms and take her to the vet immediately, what will she need done? Would she have to get it removed by surgery? Also, how much would a visit like that cost? I'm sorry I'm asking so many questions, I appreciate this very much.
Most of the time, a vet can remove the material without surgery because the cheek pouch is accessible through the mouth. The material can be manipulated or scraped out. Sometimes surgery does become necessary. The cost of such a visit will vary a great deal, depending on where you live, Vet visits are more expensive on the coasts than they are in the Midwest. Big cities tend to be more expensive that small towns or rural areas. For example, in the Midwest, a typical office visit might be $30, with treatment adding on additional fees. In a large city, the fees might be double or triple that.


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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you for all of your help, I appreciate it greatly. I'm sure my hamster will too!
You're very welcome.

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