Can Hamsters Eat Cheese or is it bad for them?

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Cheese is one of those tasty foods that we as humans love on everything – nachos, pizza, even on broccoli. But can hamsters eat cheese safely?

The answer is, yes! Hamsters love to eat cheese, but as the responsible pet owner, you should exercise moderation when feeding it to your pet. It is important to remember that cheese should not be fed to your hamster as a staple of their diet.

Instead, primary sources of nutrients should be pelleted hamster foods and, of course, unlimited amounts of fresh water.

hamsters eating a piece of cheese

Is Cheese Safe for Hamsters?

One question we get a lot – "is cheese dangerous or toxic in some way for hamsters?"

The answer is no, but you have to be careful not to go overboard when feeding it to your hamster. Cheese is a treat, and you should only serve it once a week.

And even then, the amount given should be small, no matter the size of the hamster. It is because the food is high in fat, and quite caloric. Including cheese in a hamster's diet regularly could lead to obesity in your little hammy.

  • Begin by testing your hamster out to make sure they like cheese.
  • Offer a small piece and see how they fare.
  • If they don't like cheese, remove it from the cage and try again a few days later.

Keep in mind that hamsters are just like us: they don't like every single food they try. Your hamster may not even like cheese!

Health Benefits: Is Cheese Good for Hamsters?

As an occasional treat, it is perfectly OK for hamsters to enjoy cheese.

However, you should stay away from most cheeses that are salty, like parmesan and asiago. Avoid slices of American cheese, as these are processed foods with a lot of sodium.

Stick instead with cheeses like low-fat cottage cheese. You can provide a small amount – such as a teaspoon – to your hammy as a special treat. Best of all, cottage cheese is loaded with protein, and the calcium in the food will help your hamster maintain good bone health.

And, if your hamsters are nursing or pregnant, cottage cheese is an excellent food for them to eat once per week. Even young and growing hamsters under 6 months of age will benefit from an occasional serving of cottage cheese.

One other great cheese you can give to your hamster includes mozzarella, because it is so low in fat. Cheddar should be skipped thanks to its high salt content.

Cheese on table

Health Risks: Is Cheese Bad for Hamsters?

Yes, in excess, cheese is bad for hamsters. Why is this?

For starters, it has lots of saturated fat, dietary cholesterol, and sodium.

A diet that is high in sodium can spike your blood pressure, which can leave you susceptible to heart attack and stroke. It can also raise your hamster's risk of kidney disease.

And saturated fat is another drawback. If one's diet is too high in sat fat, blood cholesterol gets raised. It is connected to an increased risk of problems like stroke and heart attack.

Second, cheese can block you up – if you get our drift. If your hamster already has trouble passing stool, you may want to avoid feeding him cheese.

The saturated fats, combined with the cholesterol in cheese, can lead to constipation. After all, cheese is low in fiber, and eating too much of it will have a negative impact on your hamster's bowel movements.

Cheese has an excess amount of saturated fats and is highly processed and refined food. Eating salty food may lead to dehydration while consuming too many calories may lead to obesity.

A little cheese can be good for your hamster, but it should only be given as an occasional treat to prevent health problems.

Nutritional Values: What's in Cheese?

Let's assume you will be feeding your hamster some mozzarella cheese, as we have established this is a good option for hamsters. What are the nutritional values for this cheese?

Per 100g of mozzarella, here's what you get:

  • 300 Cals
  • 2g carbs
  • 372 g Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • 2 g protein
  • 2 g saturated fat

It is much lower in calories compared to other popular types of cheese, like cheddar. Comparatively, mozzarella is lower in carbs and provides protein.

There are some good vitamins contained in mozzarella cheese like:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamin B1
  • Folate
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6

And, it also contains highly beneficial minerals such as:

  • Calcium
  • Selenium
  • Phosphorus
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Potassium

How Often Should I Feed My Hamster Cheese?

You can give your hamster cheese in small quantities as a special treat.

  • You should feed your hamster cheese just once per week.
  • Make sure the cheese you select is mild and low in fat and salt.
  • Keep the quantity given low.

Remember, hamsters store food in their cheeks, so don't give them so much that they store it and eat it later on as the stored cheese may go bad before your hamster gets the chance to eat it.

How to Prepare Cheese for Your Hamster?

Choosing healthy cheese for your hamster starts by researching the right kinds of cheese for your pet.

We recommend low fat, and mild cheeses to serve to your hamster. Some good ideas include:

  • Cottage cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Provolone
  • Ricotta

Make sure the cheese you select at the grocery store is within its date. Once you get it home, immediately put the cheese into the refrigerator to make sure it stays fresh.

Many kinds of cheese are sold in resealable packages that are easy to keep fresh. However, if your cheese is not sold in such a package, here are some ways to keep it fresh for your family and your hamster:

  • Soft Cheeses  - Put them in a resealable plastic container and refrigerate.
  • Fresh cheeses packed in water like mozzarella. - Leave the cheese in the original pack, change out the water every few days
  • Hard Cheeses - wrap them in cling film.

When you are ready to serve your hamster a piece of cheese:

  1. Place the block on a plate, and
  2. carefully cut a small piece with a knife.

Keep the piece VERY small – after all, cheese is meant to be a special treat. A small amount, equivalent to 2-3 shreds of cheese, is appropriate.

It will ensure that your hamster gets a good amount of cheese to enjoy without going overboard. It's best to err on the side of moderation!

What Kind of Cheese Can Hamsters Eat?

Haster gets cheese

You should stick with cheeses that are mild and low in fat. What are some examples of such cheeses?

Cottage Cheese 

This packs very little fat, and a good amount of that fat is unsaturated. There are no added sugars, but there is a healthy dose of protein, with 11g being part of just one (human) serving.

Mozzarella 

This features a sweet, light flavor and pleasing texture. It has 9g of fat per (human) serving, and only 4.5 of those come from saturated fat. It is soft and easy to cut into small pieces for your hamster, too.

Ricotta

This is low fat, soft cheese. Even when made with whole milk, it has just 4 g of fat, and 2.7 of those come from saturated fat. One human-sized serving of ricotta has only 100 calories and gets you 3g of protein. Ricotta can even be served with a single, small berry to give your hamster a special dessert.

Provolone

This cheese has 12g of fat per adult human serving, and 7.5 of those come from saturated fat. It is most often sold in slices, so it's easy to peel off tiny pieces and give them to your hamster. This cheese is also a bit more flavorful, which is fun for your hamster.

Can Hamsters Eat Cheese Puffs?

Knowing that hamsters can eat some types of cheese, you may wonder if they can eat those delightful orange snacks we know as cheese puffs or cheese balls.

The answer is a big NO. Junk food is off-limits for hamsters. Many junk foods are sugary and salty and provide no nutritional value to hamsters (or humans, for that matter).

Keep the cheese puffs away from your hamster!

Can Hamsters Eat Cheese Chews?

Yes, Hamsters can enjoy cheese chews. You can find these sweet little treats right on Amazon or even in your local pet store. They help keep teeth healthy and satisfy the need to chew.

They are made with nuts, seeds, veggies, and of course, real cheese flavor to keep your hammy satisfied, even on non-treat days.

So yes, grab a cheese chew for your pet - it's a healthy and tasty way for them to chew as desired.

Wrapping It Up

Let's talk about what we've learned today with hamsters and cheese.

  • Hamsters can eat small amounts of cheese.
  • It's best to go with a small piece of cheese - REALLY small, like 2-3 shreds worth.
  • Serve it just once per week.
  • Avoid processed cheeses.

Now you know about how to give cheese to your hamster safely. Enjoy this delicious treat with your pet!

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