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Old 08-07-2022, 04:34 PM   #1
HarrytheHammyx
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Exclamation Randomly breathing hard

Hello Iíve had a Syrian hamster (Squeaky) since December 2020. Heís almost 2 years old and itís been hot here lately. In the morning my room was cold and when I got back I saw him in a corner so I moved the cage to the dining room where it was cold. A few minutes later my brother says Squeakyís been breathing hard and had his eyes slightly open. I quickly grabbed him and tried to give him some cold grapes and broccoli but he wouldnít take it. He was fine he just wonít eat. I tried giving him water and he wonít take it either. I got a towel and sat him down in between my legs and saw his breathing and it doesnít look normal to me. I canít take him to the vet and I know hamsters donít live very long so I expected it but I just wanna make sure if Iím right or wrong about the situation. I thought he was just warm but does that make them breathe like this? Iíll insert a video. Later after cooling him down near the ac I put him back in between my legs and he fell asleep on the food bowl, I canít tell if his breathing got normal again though. Can someone please help I really love him and I want him to live the full 2.5-3 years!

Video of him breathing: Shared album - Sabanta Sarah - Google Photos

Video of him after he cooled down and fell asleep on his food bowl: Shared album - Sabanta Sarah - Google Photos

Bonus video of him eating randomly? (probably a good sign): Shared album - Sabanta Sarah - Google Photos

I donít know if he can get respiratory issues but I havenít changed anything. Ive been using the same bedding and I added some timothy hay a few months back but so far he hasnít reacted in any way so I donít think itís that.
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Old 08-08-2022, 05:30 AM   #2
sushi_78
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Default Re: Randomly breathing hard

Hello,

Heat exhaustion can cause laboured breathing or panting and I think they can struggle more with heat as they get older. If you can, keep his cage in the coolest area of the house, avoid handling him when it's hot and put ice packs on or around one part of his cage.

2 years is around the expected lifespan for a Syrian hamster so he's done very well. They rarely live to 3 and a few make it to 2.5 but are usually very frail by that time.

His breathing does seem unusually laboured even when he's asleep. Also I don't know if it's just the way he happened to fall asleep but his head is propped up and sometimes they will do that when they're having breathing difficulties especially from congestive heart failure causing fluid in their lungs. Can you check his testicles and his lips/mouth and see if they have any blue or grey tint? That's another sign of breathing issues. Breathing with the mouth open would be a very late sign of severe breathing problems. Also any clicking/other breathing noises including "wet" breathing noises.

This is a video of my gerbil who had congestive heart failure breathing for you to compare: DSCN0431 - YouTube. She initially had some relief from diuretic treatment.

Breathing problems are quite distressing for the animal so if you are at all able to get him to a vet, I would. They might be able to treat him and give him a few more weeks or even months, or at the least, if he does have something seriously wrong that can't be treated they can at least give him a peaceful death.
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Old 08-09-2022, 01:06 AM   #3
HarrytheHammyx
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Default Re: Randomly breathing hard

Hello! Thank you for replying
I did move his cage in the coolest area of the house and hes sleeping peacefully
Itís just weird because if he has breathing problems, is it normal for him to act soÖ normal? He seems eager and I have videos of him from today begging me to let him out and him walking around like normal and then when he sleeps it looks like his breathing is labored. He is also eating a bit of cheese as a treat and eating normally now. I would expect a hamster thats having congestive heart failure to be tired and not being able to move but heís acting weirdly fine. I check up on him a lot and feed him his veggies since Iím still worried. I sprinkled some thyme in his cage as well. I know my parents definitely wonít let me take him to the vet but is there any natural remedies I can try?

Squeaky begging me to play: Shared album - Sabanta Sarah - Google Photos
Him running around right after: Shared album - Sabanta Sarah - Google Photos
Eating a piece of cheese as a treat: Shared album - Sabanta Sarah - Google Photos
Labored breathing again? While sleeping? Shared album - Sabanta Sarah - Google Photos
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Old 08-09-2022, 08:19 AM   #4
sushi_78
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Default Re: Randomly breathing hard

It might not be heart failure of course, but my gerbil did stay quite active with it for a while.

The heavy breathing started after she had a few days in October when she was very unwell. I thought she was dying but she pulled through and returned to 95% how she was before (which was very active), but she didn't have as much stamina as she used to. She would still demand to be let out for free roaming, which would tire her out, so she'd rest for a bit and then demand to come out again!

Then in December she started to have breathing noises, weight gain and abdominal swelling. That was when she went on the diuretic. Around Christmas day she started to be really tired and she died on 27th December. So she wasn't very unwell for very long.

Your hamster has done well to get to 2 years so hopefully he will have some good weeks or months yet.
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Old 08-11-2022, 01:43 AM   #5
HarrytheHammyx
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Default Re: Randomly breathing hard

I hope so! Thank you for sharing your experience, I can't tell if Squeaky is doing well or progressively getting worse since he feels colder to the touch, not sure if that's because of the ac or not. He also gets tired and falls asleep randomly anywhere. I've been trying to make him eat more so not sure if he has weeks or days left. I'll keep him monitored for now.
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Old 08-11-2022, 06:05 PM   #6
HarrytheHammyx
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Default Re: Randomly breathing hard

Squeaky is getting weaker by the day now I donít think heís going to last too long
He was waddling around my room and couldnít walk properly. He had to stop to take breaths and he doesnít eat or drink as often anymore nor does he use the bathroom. He doesnít eat his pellets but he eats the pieces of broccoli I give him. Seems like he has no energy to eat harder foods. I mashed up some of his pellets, vitamin drops, broccoli, and a bit of pear in some hot water and he ate some. I was wonder how often should I feed him? And force him to drink? In a day at least. I have to force the water bottle in his mouth for him to try to drink and even then its out of anger because end tries to push it away and the water ends up in his mouth forcing him to drink. I hate seeing him like this and wish he could have a better way of being put down so he doesnít suffer till his last breath but my parents wonít let me take him to the vet for euthanasia. Iím trying my best to keep him from starving or dehydrating to death so far and I think itís working. Is there anything else I can do to help him?
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Old 08-11-2022, 06:49 PM   #7
sushi_78
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Default Re: Randomly breathing hard

I'm sorry to hear this.

Make fluids easily available to him - a bottle right next to his nest, but be careful with bowls as a sick hamster can fall forwards into them and drown. Try holding a water bottle or a syringe to his mouth to see if he wants to drink, but don't force him. Offer him fruits and pureed fruits as well, anything you can think of that might like to try.

If he's eating vegetables etc he will be getting some water. My gerbil actually got all of her required fluid from vegetables and didn't drink from the bottle at all for a few days when she was very ill. I would try to make sure he has soft foods and vegetables available all the time.

I wouldn't force him to drink. I know it's really hard but it sounds like he is in his last days and as their body gradually shuts down it's normal for them to drink less. Also if he has fluid in his lungs, lots of water might make that worse and make him feel more distressed.
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Last edited by sushi_78; 08-11-2022 at 07:03 PM.
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Old 08-12-2022, 05:57 AM   #8
Ria P
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Default Re: Randomly breathing hard

I agree. I wouldn't force him to drink. It would only distress him and he could choke.

As you have no other option than to let nature run its course, it is best to make him as comfortable as possible without forcing anything on him.

My first Syrian deteriorated in front of our eyes and for the last couple of days he didn't eat or drink. He just wanted to rest in his favourite hide until he stopped breathing.

You are doing all you can. Stay strong for your hamster who can still feel your love which will give him comfort.
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Old 08-14-2022, 10:07 AM   #9
HarrytheHammyx
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Default Re: Randomly breathing hard

I tried my best to keep him alive, and he was eating a bit more by the end of yesterday but today morning I found him passed away in his cage. I made sure to give him a lot of hugs, pets, and treats yesterday. I rather him pass away in peace than suffer like that
RIP Squeaky December 2020 - August 2022
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Old 08-14-2022, 10:09 AM   #10
cloudy
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Default Re: Randomly breathing hard

I am so very sorry your loss. My thoughts are with you.
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