Chocolate is fattening, enriching, and one of the most delectable human food. Like humans, hamsters are omnivores. That means most human food is ideal for a hamsters diet. Along with a variety of vegetables and fruits, you can also offer meat to your hamster. But certain items are not suitable for your pet hamster. Knowing how energising and rich chocolate can be for humans, you may think that it is ideal for your furry little friend as well. So let’s find out if your pet hamster can have chocolate.
Hamsters should never consume chocolate because it’s toxic to them. In addition, it can cause health problems in hamsters; depending on the amount consumed, it can be fatal. Furthermore, chocolate does not provide any inherent benefit to the Hamsters.
Let us explain why chocolate is not considered a good food resource for hamsters in the following section.
Is Chocolate Safe For Your Hamster?
Chocolate can be toxic for your pet. If your hamster consumes chocolate, it can even die from its poisonous effect. Theobromine, an alkaloid found in the cocoa bean husk, is the culprit. This chemical creates a toxic effect on the system of a hamster. Caffeine is another ingredient that poses a threat to the health of small creatures, like hamsters. Caffeine attacks the central nervous system of the animal resulting in excessive stress and even death.
If your hamster eats just a small amount of chocolate by sheer accident, you need to keep it under strict watch. First, check for any signs of physical discomfort or sickness. If you think that symptoms are severe or worsen with time, do not waste any time and get in touch with your vet right away.
Signs to Keep an Eye Out For
Check if your hamster has lost his or her appetite, become inactive, or suffering from diarrhoea. Of course, keep an eye on the appearance and behaviour of your pet as well. However, if you notice that your hamster is lying on its side and not moving even after constant encouragement, then know it is an emergency. In this case, take your pet to the veterinary professional straight away.
If your hamster is not showing any of the severe signs, you can treat your hamster at home by providing fresh water and giving them their basic good quality hamster food and fresh veggies only, with no fruit or anything sweet.
What Should You Do If Your Hamster Eats Chocolate?
You can treat your hamster at home if it doesn’t show any severe signs of sickness. The home treatment varies depending on the type of chocolate and the amount your hamster consumed. For example, milk chocolate is way more toxic than baking chocolate.
You should keep an eye on your pet in such an event and check if there are any symptoms. Offer fresh water and plenty of food to your furry friend. It is always a good idea to provide a few vegetables, as it helps to flush their digestive tract.
Caffeine is a potent stimulant. So you should expect jitters and abnormal excitement in your hamster. As these animals do not have the physical ability to be sick, they will develop diarrhoea after consuming chocolate. However, the severity of diarrhoea will depend on how much chocolate they ate.
If you still think that your hamster is displaying signs of illness, the best way to deal with it is to consult with a professional veterinary doctor.
Why Is Theobromine So Poisonous to Hamsters?
Among the two elements, theobromine is more toxic to Hamsters. Theobromine is a chemical found in the cacao plant. Even though humans can process theobromine without any issues, the same cannot be said for the Hamsters. Even though human beings can also overdose on chocolate, it only generates headaches, trembles, and sweat. While all these can be a little annoying for us, it is nothing life-threatening. Thanks to our highly high-functioning liver, we can process theobromine quite efficiently and quickly.
On the other hand, hamsters cannot deal with theobromine. Being much smaller creatures than humans, hamsters metabolised theobromine at a much slower pace. As a result, an enhanced rate of urination is the most typical symptom of theobromine toxic action among hamsters. As the poisoning worsens, the hamster quickly develops problems like seizures, irregular heartbeats, internal bleeding, and even heart attack. All of which can be fatal for these small furry animals.
Why Is Caffeine Toxic to Hamsters?
Caffeine is the other ingredient in chocolate that harms your hamster significantly. While caffeine is not as harmful as theobromine, it can affect hamsters physically.
While caffeine makes humans more focused and productive, it creates stress on the bodies of tiny hamsters. If your pet consumes just a bit of caffeine, it can develop a life-threatening spike in its heart rate. At the very least, the tiny creatures will be troubled by the high stress on their body and heart. The combined effect of theobromine and caffeine is enough to be fatal for hamsters.
Milk Chocolate Or Dark Chocolate: Which Is More Harmful?
If your hamster does get their paws on a slice of chocolate, hope that it is milk chocolate and not the dark. As dark chocolate is more concentrated than milk chocolate, it creates a more harmful effect on your hamster. Compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate contains about ten times more theobromine. So, if your hamster consumes even a tiny bit of dark chocolate, the consequence can get very bitter. If you are concerned that your hamster may get loose and plunder your chocolate stash, it is better to store only milk chocolate and avoid buying dark chocolate at all costs.
Now that you know about the health hazards that chocolate can create in your hamster, how about sticking to healthy treats like a piece of cucumber. If you want to give your hamster something sweet, consider fruits, like blueberries or grapes. Also, take the advice of the veterinary professional before you create the diet chart for your furry little friend.
Teresa has been a pet lover since she was little. She currently lives with two dogs and two cats, and a hamster. Teresa is a qualified dog groomer and canine behaviourist; these days, she spends her time studying canine nutrition. Teresa is the founder of Petrapedia and loves sharing her knowledge on pets.