Respiratory Diseases in Prairie Dogs

By PetMD Editorial on Sep. 14, 2010

Infectious and Non-Infectious Respiratory Diseases in Prairie Dogs

Respiratory disease in prairie dogs may be due to infections such as pneu­monia or non-infectious causes such as a dusty or humid environ­ment. Diet and environmental conditions are also thought to affect a prairie dog’s respiratory system. Regardless of whether the respiratory disease is of an infectious or non-infectious nature, your prairie dog needs proper veterinary care. Follow your veterinarian's dosage instructions and treatment program to help your pet recover quickly.


  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Discharge of the eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss



  • Bacterial and viral infections


  • Obesity
  • Blockage of the airways and inhalation of foreign bodies
  • Dusty and humid living conditions


Your veterinarian can typically diag­nose pneumonia just by examining your prairie dog. If fluid is discharging from the animal’s eyes or nose, laboratory tests can be performed to identify the causative organism; tests can also be run on blood samples. In addition, X-rays are an excellent tool for veterinarians to observe the condition of the prairie dog’s lungs and identify respiratory diseases such as pneumonia.


Early treatment will provide the best outcome. A non-infectious stuffy, runny nose often responds favorably to antihis­tamines and nasal decongestants distributed orally, while respiratory diseases of an infectious nature will likely be treated with general support and antibiotics.

If foreign bodies are obstructing the airway, your veterinarian may try and remove it manually or via surgical means.

Living and Management

To promote a quick and complete recovery, follow your veterinarian’s treatment program and place the prairie dog in a calm and clean environment, away from other animals. The cage should also be kept warm and dry.


Observing proper sanitary procedures will help reduce the presence of infectious organism’s in your pet’s environment and thus reduce the incidence of respiratory diseases.

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