Proper nutrition is the name of the game when it comes to keeping hamsters, as these little animals have very complex stuffed stomachs that can quickly cause problems.
What about yogurt and yogurt drops?
We’ll enlighten you in this post about whether yogurt is a great reward or a danger to your hamster.
Are hamsters allowed to eat yogurt?
Yes, hamsters are allowed to eat yogurt. However, only in very small quantities and only the right types. This is because lactose, sugar and other additives can cause digestive problems and have a negative effect on their health.
So the question arises whether feeding yogurt makes sense at all.
Is yogurt useful in the diet of hamsters?
Animal foods are not generally harmful to hamsters. Mealworms and egg can therefore definitely be on the menu as protein sources. However, opinions differ when it comes to cheese, quark and yogurt.
This is because dairy products contain lactose, which can cause digestive problems in rodents and other pets.
However, yogurt in particular offers some health benefits in addition to a comparatively high protein content and is readily accepted by many hamsters.
Therefore, if you are considering feeding it, you should consider three important factors.
Type of yogurt
Since the dairy product does offer some health benefits and adds variety to the feeding, you can offer it occasionally – as long as you pay attention to the basic rules.
Which yogurt is the right one?
Colorings, added sugar or a high fat content: Not every yogurt is really healthy.
It is essential to avoid ready-made products with fruit content or other additional ingredients, as these often contain sugar. Particularly fatty varieties are also not suitable.
When choosing, opt for unsweetened natural yogurt.
Keep in mind that even a large golden hamster may only get one teaspoon per week. For dwarf hamsters, the amount should be even smaller and the interval larger.
Since yogurt spoils quickly even when refrigerated, you cannot feed even a small cup to one hamster alone. So unless you like eating yogurt, you should find another protein source for your hamster as well.
Advantages of adding yogurt to the diet
Natural yogurt contains protein, which is primarily essential for pregnant and nursing hamsters.
Its soft consistency makes it ideal for animals if they suffer from dental problems or inflammation around the gums. This is because it is easy to lick up and therefore easy to eat. Moreover, it is fresh and represents a good change in the menu.
In terms of nutritional values, yogurt also has other advantages to offer. Among them:
probiotic bacterial cultures
The minerals, like the B vitamins, are needed to support the normal functioning of vital functions in the body. Bones, teeth, skin, coat and digestion, blood pressure and immune system depend on adequate supply.
Probiotic bacterial cultures are one of the main reasons why many people eat yogurt frequently.
They support the intestinal flora and thus the digestion, the immune system and thus increase the general well-being of your hamster.
Disadvantages of yogurt in the diet
The disadvantages of yogurt occur when you feed too large quantities of it or give it too often. They are:
probiotic bacterial cultures
Although the sugar content of natural yogurt without any other additives is comparatively low, the dairy product is not completely free of sugar.
This can increase the risk of developing diabetes.
Dwarf hamsters in particular are susceptible to this and should therefore only be given very small amounts of the dairy product.
The probiotic bacteria cultures are quite healthy in moderation.
However, in excessive amounts they can create an overpopulation of intestinal flora, thereby disrupting digestion and promoting disease. Another disadvantage for digestion is the lactose they contain.
Although mammals – including hamsters – feed on milk at the beginning of their lives, over time many of them develop an intolerance to lactose, also known as milk sugar. This intolerance causes digestion to become disturbed.
The consequences are:
Pain in the stomach and intestines
Due to the peculiarities of hamster digestion, this can be a significant problem. Because the animals cannot burp, the belly can inflate quickly.
Farting is possible, but the pain and diarrhea often causes the rodents to lose their appetite. If they do not eat regularly, further gas buildup occurs in the digestive tract. In addition, the intestinal flora is disturbed and thrown out of balance.
This can affect overall health. For example, it weakens the immune system, which increases susceptibility to infections. Inflammations also occur more quickly and are more severe.
Therefore, caution is advised when feeding yogurt.
Yogurt drops as a reward?
Yogurt drops are an alternative to yogurt, which spoils quickly. They do not spoil as quickly and can be easily dosed.
The problem with yogurt drops and yogurt-coated treats is that they are not just yogurt. Preservatives, sugar, binders and colorings can be found in them. In return, the nutritional values are often very low or not suitable for healthy and balanced feeding.
As a reward or treat, the drops should therefore be used very sparingly. Think of them as fast food or candy: A little bit now and then is fine. However, they should not be fed regularly.
You can therefore use them as a special treat and feed them exclusively from your hand if you want to lure your hamster to you or tame him.
Often the amount to be fed is very small. For larger pieces, you can use a sharp knife to crush the drops. This is especially useful for dwarf hamsters.
How should yogurt be fed?
To ensure that yogurt does not pose a risk, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Because the food spoils very quickly and can potentially cause digestive disorders or promote diabetes.
Therefore, follow these tips…
Small amounts to test:
Whether your hamster likes yogurt and accepts it at all is best tested with tiny amounts.
If your animal is already tame and eats literally out of your hand, you can give a blob on your finger. This is sufficient for the first tests. If the rodent refuses the yogurt, you should start looking for alternatives.
Check the health status and excretions:
You can only judge if your hamster is lactose intolerant, and if so, to what degree, after he has eaten yogurt:
Does his belly seem distended?
Is there a painful hump, loss of appetite or diarrhea?
If any of these signs are true, you must remove the dairy product from the diet.
Remove leftovers immediately:
Especially in very warm weather or higher room temperatures, yogurt not only dries out quickly, but also spoils.
It can become moldy or ferment.
Either way, it will cause discomfort if your hamster ingests it. Therefore, offer yogurt on a separate plate and remove it quickly if it is not eaten.
How much yogurt can the hamster eat?
This depends on the size of your hamster. A golden hamster may well get a teaspoon a week. It is best to spread this amount over several portions.
A dwarf hamster should be offered much less. You should not give your hamster a quarter teaspoon every two to three weeks.
Keep in mind that many dairy products are affected by lactose. If you feed curd or cheese in addition to yogurt, you must calculate the total amount and keep it in mind.
Cheese on Mondays, yogurt on Tuesdays and quark on Fridays can not only lead to complaints due to the lactose. The high protein content is also a burden on health and especially on the kidneys. You should urgently avoid such feeding.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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