Is chocolate your remedy for hard days when everything feels like it’s going wrong? Chocolate makes everything better, and no, it’s not just in your head. It contains an amino acid known as tryptophan, which allows the brain to produce serotonin, also known as the happy hormone.
It is no wonder that most people feel like all their worries are washed away when they eat a bar of chocolate.
However, can hamsters eat chocolate? Will they feel the same as humans after eating a piece?
As nature has it, hamsters cannot eat chocolate because of how it is made. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine- two ingredients that are not safe for hamsters as they can increase heart rate and overstimulate your hamster. In extreme cases, chocolate can even kill hamsters.
Can Hamsters Eat Chocolate?
Hamsters, like many other animals, cannot eat chocolate. To further understand why chocolate is unsafe for hamsters, let’s explore the two main contents used to make it- theobromine and caffeine.
While theobromine is a stimulant, caffeine is an alkaloid.
Theobromine is more harmful than caffeine, and its effects on hamsters can be deadly. It is a bitter compound from the cacao plant, the main plant used to make chocolate.
Theobromine has a positive effect when consumed by humans in moderation- it lowers blood pressure levels and keeps them stable, allows them to sleep better, and allows better lung functioning. Moreover, it is a mild stimulant that increases concentration and focus.
The worst thing that can happen to humans if they consume too much chocolate is they might suffer from mild headaches, sweating, and trembling. The human liver has the ability to metabolize theobromine quickly, so even if you overconsume it, it will not have any severe effects on the body.
However, a hamster’s body functions differently. Their livers are much smaller and, as a result, have slower metabolisms. Hence, even if they consume a tiny piece of chocolate, they will suffer from theobromine poisoning.
The most common symptom of theobromine poisoning is non-stop urination. If immediate medical attention is not sought, the hamster can develop irregular heartbeats and, eventually, start seizing. In some cases, it might suffer from internal bleeding and could have a heart attack.
Chocolate contains caffeine, but it is not as lethal for your hamster as theobromine. Caffeine is a stimulant that is found in every kind of chocolate.
When humans consume caffeine, it affects the central nervous system, making us feel more productive and focused. However, consuming too much caffeine may make us feel anxious, develop digestive issues, and lie awake all night.
When hamsters consume the tiniest amount of caffeine, their heart rate increases to life-threatening levels; caffeine stresses their heart and body, which exhausts them. Coupled with theobromine, chocolate can be a deadly combination for your furry friend.
To sum up, chocolate is bad for hamsters because of its caffeine and theobromine content.
Milk Chocolate vs. Dark Chocolate- Which One is Safer for Hamsters?
Previously, we have established that hamsters should not be given any chocolate. However, if we absolutely had to choose one kind of chocolate to give to hamsters, would it be dark or milk chocolate?
First, we must understand the difference between dark chocolate and milk chocolate. Dark chocolate is more concentrated than milk chocolate because it contains a higher quantity of cacao- specifically, 65 percent more.
Milk chocolate contains more milk to dilute the cacao. This means that dark chocolate has less sugar and fat.
You might think this is a good thing, but since dark chocolate has more cacao, it has a higher concentration of theobromine and caffeine, making it more lethal to hamsters than milk chocolate.
This means that the next time you bring chocolate into your home, you must ensure it is milk chocolate. After all, hamsters are sneaky little animals who can find their way into cupboards and pantries, so it is better to be safe than sorry.
Can Hamsters Consume Chocolate Products?
Now that we have established that chocolate is off-limits for hamsters, what about processed or baked foods that contain chocolate? Can hamsters consume these?
1. Chocolate Cereal
You can feed your hamster unflavored, plain cereal off and on as a treat, but we do not recommend feeding them any kind of flavored cereal, especially chocolate cereal.
Cereal has a low nutritional value anyway, so it should rarely be given to hamsters.
2. Chocolate Ice Cream
Many pet owners claim that they often give their hamsters a bite of their chocolate ice creams and their hamsters love it. However, this is irresponsible and careless since chocolate ice creams are bad for your hamster’s health.
Even though hamsters can eat low-fat dairy products, ice creams are loaded with calories, sugar, and fat, making them terrible for your hamster’s health. To top it off, chocolate is unsafe for hamsters, so there is nothing worse than chocolate ice cream for your furry friend.
3. Chocolate Biscuits
You might be munching on some digestive biscuits and think your hamster would enjoy a tiny nibble. While you might not mean to cause harm to your hamster, chocolate biscuits can make hamsters extremely sick. Not only is the chocolate bad for hamsters, but the sugar can also harm them.
We recommend keeping all kinds of biscuits away from your hamster, regardless of whether they have chocolate.
4. Chocolate Chip Cookies
All kinds of cookies, especially chocolate chip cookies, are loaded with sugar, and hamsters cannot handle this much sugar.
Hence, even if you are munching on a cookie and your hamster seems very interested in your food, we recommend keeping this treat to yourself.
To sum it up, your hamster cannot eat any chocolate product. Even though foods made from chocolate usually have a lower percentage of chocolate, they are still unsafe for hamsters and should be kept locked away in a cabinet that your hamster cannot access.
What to Do If Your Hamster Consumes Chocolate?
Before you beat yourself up, remember that you are human, and we are prone to mistakes. Let’s say that one day; you leave your house and, in your absence, your hamster manages to get into the cabinet where you store your favorite chocolate. If this happens, what should you do?
The first step is to check yourself- do not panic. Once you have calmed down, you can go ahead and check what kind of chocolate your hamster has consumed. Is it milk or dark chocolate? As discussed, milk chocolates cause less harm to hamsters than dark chocolate.
Next, you need to figure out how much chocolate your hamster had consumed before it was caught. Has it only had a single cube, or are you suspicious that it has had more? If you find half the chocolate bar is missing, you must take your hamster to the vet immediately.
However, if your hamster has only consumed a tiny piece of chocolate, we recommend waiting for six to eight hours before making a final decision.
While you wait, you need to keep a close eye on your hamster. Keep checking its heart rate and look for any jittery movements or seizures that it might be having.
Moreover, give them lots of water and food so the chocolate can get through their digestive system faster. We recommend giving your hamster fresh vegetables so that it can flush its digestive tract.
Keep in mind that hamsters cannot throw up – they are not built this way. If you feed them something rotten or something they are not supposed to eat, they might get diarrhea.
If your hamster gets its paws on chocolate, it will probably get diarrhea. However, if it gets frequent, take your pet to the hamster. After all, too much diarrhea can cause dehydration, risking your hamster’s life.
How to Ensure that Your Hamster Does Not Get Its Paws on Chocolate
Now that you know that chocolate can be life-threatening for hamsters, what can you do to ensure that they will not consume any chocolate lying around the house?
Your concern is valid; hamsters are extremely nosy, and they can get into the tiniest of spaces since they are small. Here are some things you can do to keep your furry friends away from chocolate:
Do not leave chocolate everywhere in your house – only keep it in a small jar in one designated cabinet in the house. This will help you remember where the chocolate is kept and will allow you to keep it secured.
If you have kids around the house, sit them down and tell them how harmful chocolate is to pets. Once they understand that chocolate can kill their tiny pets, tell them to keep any chocolate or chocolate-based food far away from the hamster. Remember to monitor children when they are playing with the hamster.
You might find some hamster parents raving about how they feed their hamster chocolate and that their pets are fine. Do not let them convince you; chocolate is terrible for hamsters and can lead to severe complications if you are not careful.
Hence, even though you might like munching on chocolate now and then, keep it far away from your hamster. Do not get swayed by its cute eyes or persuasive actions- chocolate can kill your hamster, so you should never let them consume any.
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My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more