Sometimes, owners don’t have any specialized hamster treats or foods available. So, providing treats intended for other pets, such as dog chews and biscuits, can seem like a good option.
Dogs are omnivores that need animal proteins and plants. Hamsters are also omnivorous but consume significantly more plant-based foods than meat due to their low position in the food chain.
If you give a hamster a small dog biscuit, there’s little chance it’ll cause them any immediate harm. However, don’t feed the hamster dog treats often.
The over-consumption of unsuitable foods can lead to long-term health problems and digestive discomfort (bloating, gassiness, and diarrhea).
Should I Give My Hamster Milk Bone Dog Treats?
Hamsters are unlike many animals because their incisor teeth continue to grow throughout their lives. So, they must chew to wear their teeth down and keep them at the right length.
This is a trait Rodentia shares with Lagomorphs, and Exotic Animal Practice stated that overgrown teeth are one of the most common concerns for geriatric hamsters and rabbits.
Milk bones can help reduce the length of their teeth, but they’re designed with the nutritional profile of dogs in mind. So, they’re higher in protein and fat than is ideal for hamsters.
Will Dog Dental Sticks Make My Hamster Sick?
Dog dental sticks and chews aren’t harmful to hamsters in small amounts, but they’re not fit for purpose. Hamsters need hard, crunchy material to grind their teeth down, and dog dental chews are too soft.
After all, the purpose of chews is to scrape teeth and kill bacteria in a way that promotes oral hygiene. They’ve been specifically designed not to harm dogs’ teeth.
While hamster teeth are tiny compared to dogs’ teeth, they’re tough due to the yellow enamel. So, dog dental chews may help to clean a hamster’s teeth, but they won’t prevent overgrown teeth.
There may also be issues with additives, colorings, preservatives, and sweeteners.
These substances can adversely affect the absorption of vitamins and minerals, leading to nutrient deficiencies. Also, preservatives can be harmful in large quantities, leading to digestive upset.
What Other Dog Biscuits Can Hamsters Eat?
Hamsters can eat small amounts of most dry dog biscuits without issue.
Any dog biscuits that are hard and crunchy will contribute toward grinding a hamster’s teeth and preventing them from becoming overgrown.
Dog treats considered safe for hamsters include:
- Milk bones
- Greenies dog treats
- Whimzees dog treats
- Biscrok dog biscuits
- Pedigree dentastix
Any reputable dog treat brand should be safe for hamsters. As long as the treats aren’t heavily meat-based or high in fat, they should be fairly healthy.
However, only crunchy dog treats will grind a hamster’s teeth. Furthermore, no dog biscuit or chew should be given regularly, as the nutritional profile is wrong for a hamster’s needs.
Thankfully, you can provide a range of treats and toys to hamsters to take care of their teeth. Many of these alternatives are just as accessible as dog treats.
For example, hamsters enjoy chewing cardboard tubes from toilet rolls and kitchen towel rolls.
Can Hamsters Eat Dog Chocolate?
Never give hamsters dog chocolate or chocolate-flavored dog treats.
While dog chocolate has been specifically processed with dogs in mind and can be safely consumed in moderation, this doesn’t apply to hamsters due to a chemical called theobromine (found in the husk of cocoa beans) and the caffeine content.
A trace amount of these substances may not harm dogs, but it could be fatal for tiny hamsters. If a hamster ingests chocolate, you may notice the following symptoms and behaviors:
- Loss of appetite
- Increased urination
- Matted fur
- Shaking or tremors
- Irregular heartbeat
If you find a hamster lying on its side, shivering or convulsing, seek immediate veterinary assistance.
Are Dog Cookies Safe for Hamsters?
If the brand of dog cookies contains dog chocolate, they’re unsafe for hamsters. If dog cookies are normal, dry biscuits that look like cookies should be hamster-safe.
The only unsafe dog treats contain high percentages of meat or animal proteins. Also, avoid dog treats and biscuits that contain dog chocolate.
What Treats and Chews Are Best for Hamsters?
You can give a hamster a small dog treat once or twice a month if you’ve run out of food or to keep its teeth from becoming overgrown. This won’t harm a hamster, but there are better alternatives.
These are hard sticks made of fibrous material from vegetable sources that are good for hamsters’ teeth and designed to meet their nutritional needs.
Calcium Treats And Mineral Blocks
Calcium treats and mineral blocks act as supplementary diet staples and toys. Usually sold as loose blocks, these chews are small enough for a hamster to lift and move around the cage.
This will add some enrichment and prevent overgrown incisor teeth. Better still, these blocks are supplemented with calcium and hard-to-get minerals, supporting a hamster’s diet.
Wood or Cardboard Toys
These crunchy materials will provide a hamster with sensory stimulation and assist with its ever-growing teeth. Of course, it’s easier to find cardboard than wood unless you go to a pet store.
If you want to include vegetables that can supplement tooth-grinding blocks or toys, focus on fibrous vegetables. The best vegetables for hamsters’ teeth include:
- Sweet potato
- Carrot tops
- Dandelion greens
- Romaine lettuce
Not all fruits and vegetables are good for hamsters. Usually, you should avoid any food with a high water or sugar content with bulk but low nutritional value.