Can Hamsters Have Avocado?
We have always loved guacamole, but in recent years, avocadoes have spiked in popularity. We love to use them not only to prepare fresh guacamole for our favorite appetizers, but also in smoothies, wraps, burritos, salads, tacos, pasta dishes, and even in whole food versions of chocolate pudding. Avocados are unique because they are rich and decadent, yet completely good for you—they allow us to add a fatty richness to our foods without feeling the plaque build up in our arteries. Though our doctors would cringe if we added fatty bacon to our burritos, they praise us for spending the extra money on a couple slices of fresh avocado.
Fresh avocado slices are a fabulous, healthy, whole-food treat that we get to enjoy guilt-free, so it only makes sense that it would seem like a viable treat option for our animal companions. While the average pet store is loaded with ‘healthy’ treat options for dogs and cats, hamster parents often have to get more creative—there are fewer products available, so those of us with small animals often put together our own healthy treats at home. We don’t want to give our hamsters junk food, but we do want them to enjoy decadent snacks. So, are avocadoes safe? Can you give your hamster avocado?
The answer is technically yes, but it is not recommended. Avocadoes are not exactly poisonous to hamsters—so don’t panic if you’ve already fed them a small portion of this fatty fruit—but they are considered unhealthy. Your hamster is not going to suffer from toxicity as a result of eating avocadoes (even if they eat a large amount), but they may develop other health problems. Like several other fruits, avocadoes are just not well-suited to a hamster’s nutritional needs. If they have eaten avocadoes already, you don’t need to have them examined by a vet, but it would be in their best interest to search for other treat options.
Avocadoes are most often praised for their high levels of healthy fats, which are beneficial to brain, skin, and nervous system health in humans. This creamy, mild-tasting fruit may help you get soft skin and silky hair, but it really doesn’t offer any health benefits for your hamster.
Hamsters, unlike people, do not need to eat fresh fruits and vegetables in order to be healthy. If your pet is eating high-quality hamster mix every day, they should get all of the vitamins, minerals, and fats they need without any difficulty. Hamsters who have skin problems, dry or brittle hair, or any other health issues should be examined by a veterinarian. Eating avocado toast for breakfast may help fix your dry skin, but it isn’t a good idea for your pet.
Too much of any fruit will likely cause upset stomach and diarrhea, too much avocado comes with other risks, too. Compared to other fruits, avocadoes are extremely high in fat and calories, which add up quickly for your tiny hamster. Hamsters who eat calorically dense foods like avocadoes with any regularity will almost certainly gain weight and may become obese. Fat hamsters often suffer from chronic fatigue and loss of interest in exercise, which can lead to depression and further weight gain. To make matters worse, obese hamsters often develop diabetes, heart disease, and a shortened lifespan.
If your hamster is already overweight, they probably should not eat any fruit—and they certainly should not eat fruit that is as calorically dense as an avocado. Talk to a veterinarian about portion control, exercise, and low-calorie treat options. Some more diet-friendly treats include carrots, apples, cabbage, broccoli, celery, and cucumber.
Things to Consider
Avocadoes are also dangerous because they can cause your hamster’s cheek pouches to become impacted. This sticky, fatty food can get stuck in their cheek pouch, which can lead to tooth decay and painful abscesses.
If their head or neck appears swollen, or if they start to drool, they are likely suffering from an impacted cheek pouch. You can gently massage their cheeks to try to dislodge the impaction. Another option is to wash out their cheek pouches with a gentle saline solution and an eye dropper. Avoid using any sharp tools to try to pick out the impacted food yourself, as this can result in cuts and other injuries. If you don’t have any luck removing the impacted food on your own, you should get them to the veterinarian as soon as possible. This condition can be dangerous and painful if it is left untreated.
In conclusion, even though avocadoes will not cause toxicity (they do not contain anything known to be poisonous to hamsters), they are generally considered unhealthy. Avocadoes are sticky foods that are extremely high in fat and calories, so hamsters who eat them are more likely to suffer from obesity and impacted cheek pouches. Don’t panic if your hamster has already eaten a little bit of avocado, but, in the future, opt for healthier treat options.