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Pine bedding and gerbils.

Species: Other
Breed: gerbil
Age: 1-2 years
Hi,

We noticed that our gerbil was lethargic, eyes closed, breathing rapidly. I started to do research online and found information that pine bedding is toxic to gerbils. I replaced the bedding temporarily with ripped up paper towels and will now buy different bedding....Can our gerbil recover? What should we do?

Jill Friedbauer


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Aw, sorry to hear that Pipsqueek is unwell.

Pine bedding certainly can be a problem for gerbils. It can cause breathing problems but it can also cause liver failure.

If the pine shavings were causing some respiratory (breathing) issues, then there is a chance that simply putting him or her on a better type of bedding will solve the issue. If that is the case, I should expect her to be recovering within 24-48 hours.

But, we don't know how much damage has been done by the pine. If there is liver damage then there still is a chance for recovery as the liver is good at repairing itself once damaged. But, if there has been too much damage done, then it may not be able to repair.

If Pipsqueek was a cat or a dog I would definitely be doing some chest xrays and some blood tests. Those are available for gerbils but it depends on whether you are willing to spend the money to have them done. You will also need to find a vet who is familiar with gerbils if you do this.

It really would be great to have a vet take a look at Pipsqueek. He or she could possibly benefit from some fluids and oxygen. Or, it's possible the vet may diagnose that something else is going on.

There's not a lot else that you can do at home other than change the bedding (which you have already done).

I really hope Pipsqueek is feeling better soon!

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.