Many foods are not safe for hamsters. Some foods can cause medical conditions, are toxic, or quickly exceed a hamsters’ daily caloric requirements, leading to weight gain and/or medical conditions. So you may be wondering, can hamsters eat cheese?
Some types of cheese are safe for your hamster to eat. For example, cottage cheese, mozzarella, and other low-salt cheeses are safe for hamsters in small quantities. However, some cheeses should not be fed to your hamster, as they can cause health problems.
Is Cheese Safe for Hamsters?
Cheese is a delicious and safe treat for hamsters as long as it is fed in small amounts. However, there are some types of cheese that you should not feed to hamsters. Hamsters should not be fed cheese that is:
- Aged: Can damage your hamster’s digestion
- Very soft: Can get stuck in your hamster cheek pouches, causing them to choke or develop teeth problems
- High Fat: Can result in diabetes and obesity
- Blue: The bacteria in blue cheese could cause serious health problems for your hamster. They are toxic to hamsters!
- Highly processed: Are high in sodium (e.g., American cheese or spray cheese)
- Salty: Are high in sodium (e.g., parmesan or asiago)
- Flavored: Cheeses with additional spices and flavorings can be harmful to your hamster
Also, do not feed your hamster cheese-based snacks made for humans, such as cheese puffs. This is not real cheese and has no nutritional value! In addition, they can contain flavoring and other ingredients that are damaging to your hamster’s health.
Too much cheese is bad for your hamster
Cheese in excess is bad for your hamster because it has lots of saturated fat, dietary cholesterol, and sodium. A diet high in fat and sodium can lead to health problems such as diabetes, obesity, heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease. Too much cheese can also make your hamster constipated or dehydrated. Other side effects of your hamster eating too much cheese can include an upset stomach, gas, bloating, and diarrhea. However, cheese is high in protein and calcium and several vitamins and minerals, which are good for your hamster.
Do not leave uneaten cheese in their cage as it can start to rot, attracting bacteria and insects. If your hamster hasn’t eaten all of the cheese within 12-24 hours, you need to get rid of it.
So make sure that you stick to mild, unflavored, low-salt cheeses in moderation.
What kind of cheese can hamsters eat?
Hamsters can eat mild low-salt cheese such as:
- Low-fat Cottage cheese
- Mild Cheddar
This assumes that the cheese is in good condition. Do not feed your hamster cheese that is old or moldy as it can be dangerous to their health.
How often can I feed hamsters cheese?
Too much cheese can impact your hamster’s health. Therefore, only give your hamster cheese as a treat once a week (at most).
How much cheese can I feed a hamster?
If this is the first time feeding your hamster cheese, only give a small amount at first. This will allow you to determine if they like cheese and whether it causes any digestive issues. Also, only feed your hamster small pieces of cheese so they won’t choke on it. Each portion should be no bigger than the size of a raisin. Hamsters cannot vomit, which makes choking a health risk.
An appropriate-sized piece of cottage cheese should be no bigger than a teaspoon or 2-3 shreds of other low-fat cheeses. It is important not to overfeed your hamster, so the smaller, the better!
You should only give small amounts of cheese because it is high in fat, sodium, and calories. Feeding too much cheese to your hamster can result in diabetes, obesity, and other health issues.
Hamsters can have cheese as long as you stick to safe, mild, unflavored, low-salt cheeses and in small quantities. However, cheese should not be a large part of their diet and should not be given more than once a week. See What do Hamsters Eat? for information on the ideal diet for your hamster.
If your hamster shows signs of digestive discomfort, loose stool, diarrhea, or decreased appetite, stop feeding them cheese and take them to a veterinarian.