Pet Consider

Can Hamsters Eat Blueberries?

Can Hamsters Have Blueberries?

Apples and bananas are some of the most widely consumed fruits thanks to their affordability, portability, and mild flavors, but, when we want a real treat, many of us go for a bowl of fresh blueberries. These perfectly round, easy-to-roll berries can make an awful mess (they can roll for quite a distance once they hit the kitchen floor and their purple juice stains everything from fingertips to wooden cooking utensils to clothing), but we love them just the same.

Though plenty of us are more than happy to eat raw blueberries on their own as a snack or dessert, we also include them into many of our favorite summertime dishes, including blueberry pie, pancakes, muffins, oatmeal, jam, and even salad. Blueberries add an exciting burst of color and flavor to any dish.

Because they are such a fun, healthy treat, they seem like a perfect fruit to give to our pets. Many of us are wary about giving our hamsters processed, artificially colored store-bought treats, and we turn to fruit instead. Bite-sized blueberries fit perfectly into our hamsters’ tiny paws, so it seems like a match made in Heaven. But is this fruit a safe treat? Can it serve as a sweet breakfast?
 
Can you give your hamster blueberries?

The answer is yes, hamsters can eat small amounts of blueberries as treats. Fortunately, this colorful fruit does not seem to be at all toxic to hamsters—even if your furry friend were to go on a blueberry binge, they probably would not suffer from any severe or lasting health problems. But, even though these berries are not poisonous to your pet, they should only be given to them in small quantities. Fruit is lacking in many of the key nutrients hamsters need in order to thrive, so they will end up with nutritional imbalances if they eat too many. And, as with any food, too many berries can cause weight gain! Feel free to give your hamster blueberries for dessert, but don’t use them as a dietary staple.

Health Benefits?

blueberriesBlueberries are definitely one of the healthier treats you could give to your pet. These tiny fruits are packed with antioxidants and other phytochemicals that can help support a healthy body and immune system. Antioxidant-rich foods such as berries may help your hamster fight off everything from colds to chronic or even life-threatening diseases, such as arthritis and some cancers.

Antioxidants protect the body by neutralizing highly charged particles, called free radicals, that cause damage to body cells. This damage sometimes results in the genetic mutations that lead to cancer and other diseases. Because free radicals are inescapable (your hamster’s body produces them even under ideal conditions), antioxidants appear to be one of the best ways to protect the body against their effects.

In addition to lowering your pet’s risk of cancer, blueberries may protect cardiovascular and eye health. It may reduce cholesterol synthesis, which can lower your furry friend’s risk of heart disease, and there is some evidence that blueberries may help lower blood pressure. That said, hamsters who eat an overall healthy diet are generally not at a high risk of developing heart problems—if your hamster has cardiovascular problems, blueberries will not cure them!

Several studies have found that the antioxidants found in blueberries can even protect brain health as many different animals age. Antioxidants may be able to help preserve memory and other cognitive skills, which can keep your pet sharp into old age. Blueberries also contain a lot of fluid, which can help keep your hamster hydrated.

Things to Consider

Though the antioxidants inside blueberries can benefit long-term health, feeding your hamster too many of these sweet treats can cause some health problems. The biggest problem associated with overfeeding blueberries (or any fruit, for that matter) is upset stomach and diarrhea. Because blueberries are high in fiber and water, hamsters who eat too many of them are likely to suffer from uncomfortable digestive problems. If your hamster seems to have an upset stomach, don’t give them any more fruit until things have settled down again. If problems persist, seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

It is also important to remember that hamsters are tiny creatures! Most hamsters only need about a tablespoon of food every day, which means that their calorie needs are extremely low. If you give your hamster too many extra calories—even if they come from fresh, healthy foods like fruit—they will gain weight and may become overweight or obese. Obesity can lead to health problems that can cut your hamster’s life short, so monitoring their caloric intake is crucial.

Final Thoughts

Blueberries make a delicious treat for your hamster to enjoy on occasion, but they really should not make up a large part of their diet. These antioxidant-rich fruits are supplements that can promote health and vitality when they are fed sparingly. Moderation is the key to incorporating this food into your hamster’s diet in a way that is healthy and safe.

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