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How To Help A Hamster Dying And Gasping For Air!

Very few things are worse than seeing a beloved pet hamster sick, knowing that you may soon have to say goodbye. Yet just because your hamster is sick doesn’t mean that it’s too late to help your furry friend get better.

If you can spot the signs of the disease while it’s still early, you could save your hamster by providing the necessary care, taking it to a veterinarian, and guaranteeing that your hamster makes a full recovery.

If your hamster is stretched out on its back, gasping, and struggling to breathe, it likely has a severe respiratory infection.

Hamsters can easily catch respiratory infections if left in cold environments or not properly dried. If you don’t stop the infection soon, it could lead to pneumonia and respiratory failure. However, speaking with a veterinarian could save the day. 

If you’re worried your hamster is dying gasping for air, continue reading to find out what you can do to help. We’ll explain some of the common reasons why hamsters gasp for air and advise you on how you can help ease your hamster’s suffering.

If your hamster doesn’t show signs of improvement within a few hours, immediately contact your veterinarian for more advice and consider taking it in for further assessment.

Do Hamster Gasp For Air When Dying?

If your hamster is dying, you’ll notice distinct signs of distress. It will likely remain very still, lie on its back or in a curled-up position, stop eating and playing, and struggle to breathe. Your hamster may also make loud wheezing and gasping sounds.

However, just because your hamster is struggling to breathe doesn’t mean it’s about to die. Struggling to breathe is a sign of illness but it does not immediately equate to death.

Difficulty breathing is a sign of respiratory disease, which is common among hamsters bought from a pet store. When put under a lot of stress, hamsters are prone to catching bacterial infections, such as respiratory illnesses and wet tail disease.

They can also catch a respiratory disease if left in cold, damp areas or if there is a leak in their water bottle making them and their bedding consistently damp.

If your hamster has a respiratory illness, you’ll notice a few other symptoms—sneezing, wheezing, and labored gasps. It will likely not want to eat and could even have some discharge around its eyes and nose, just like when you have a cold or the flu.

It’s crucial that you catch these symptoms immediately because, if not helped soon, your hamster could develop pneumonia and die from suffocation and exhaustion.

How Can You Help A Hamster That Is Gasping For Air?

Before you start panicking, take a moment to check in on a few things. Just because your hamster is sick doesn’t mean it’s going to die.

In fact, your hamster may be going into a state of torpor—a state similar to hibernation triggered by cold conditions that often mimic death.

Check for a heartbeat by placing your finger on its chest. If you’re certain that your hamster is dying, immediately contact your veterinarian for help.

First, move your hamster to a dry, warm area set to at least 65-degrees Fahrenheit and provide fresh, clean bedding for your hamster to rest on.

Prepare a warm towel to wrap your hamster in by lightly dampening a cloth and tossing it into the dryer for at least 15 minutes. Once the towel is warm, gently wrap your hamster in the towel and let it rest in a warm place for at least two hours.

If your hamster’s condition does not improve within a few hours, consider contacting your veterinarian immediately. If possible, try setting up a video call with a veterinarian to get a direct consultation without having to travel all the way to a vet’s office.

Speed is of the utmost importance when treating a severely sick hamster, as their condition can quickly take a turn for the worse. Your veterinarian should be able to advise on your hamster’s health and make the necessary recommendations.

Can A Hamster That Is Gasping For Air Make A Full Recovery?

Although respiratory illnesses and pneumonia are common diseases for hamsters put under severe stress, they’re not diseases that most hamsters would survive in the wild.

When your hamster develops a respiratory infection, it will often be accompanied by other widespread bacterial infections, which can be difficult to treat.

However, if you can provide your hamster with an adequate environment and the proper veterinary treatment, you could save your hamster before it’s too late.

The key to successfully curing your hamster of respiratory illness is to catch the disease before it progresses into full-blown pneumonia.

Once the disease becomes pneumonic, your hamster’s lungs will begin filling with pus and liquid, making it nearly impossible for your hamster to breathe, leading to suffocation and asphyxiation.

However, hamsters will early-stage respiratory disease generally respond well to treatment if brought into a vet’s office within the first few hours or days.

Your veterinarian will start by placing your hamster in a warm environment where it can rest easy and recover naturally.

If your hamster is struggling to breathe, your vet may also administer oxygen therapy to increase blood-oxygen levels and stop your hamster from asphyxiating.

Additionally, your veterinarian will likely prescribe a dose of antibiotics to halt the bacterial infection and keep it from spreading to other parts of your hamster’s body.


Coming home to find your beloved pet hamster wheezing, gasping, and struggling to breathe is a terrifying experience that often leads you to think that your pet is dying. Although your hamster is struggling to breathe, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your favorite pet is approaching its final day. Begin treating your pet by wrapping it in a warm towel, moving it to a warmer room, and then contact your veterinarian for more advice. Getting your pet the appropriate treatment will help keep it alive.