Can Hamsters Have Broccoli?Vegetables haunted us as children. When we were little, we wanted to live on cake, cookies, dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, and sweetened applesauce, but our parents insisted that we eat a variety of green vegetables—the scariest of which resembled tiny trees. Once we reached adulthood, however, we fell in love with those small, tree-shaped vegetables. Broccoli is the quintessential vegetable. It’s green, it’s delicious both raw and cooked, and it is packed full of all the stuff our doctors beg us to eat more of. Though we hated it as children, now that we’re grown up, we consume broccoli quite often. We can eat it raw with dip, steamed and salted, or cooked into pastas and other warm, savory dishes.
We know that broccoli is good for our bodies, but what about our dear pets? Most of the foods our animal companions eat on a daily basis come out of bags labeled ‘pet food’ that have been specifically formulated for their species, but the idea of forcing them to eat one thing for their entire lives feels cruel. We love our hamsters, so we want to include tasty fresh foods in their diet to spice things up. But is this safe?
Can you give your hamster broccoli?
The answer is yes, absolutely! Hamsters can eat broccoli in moderation on a regular basis—in fact, most hamsters love broccoli. Small quantities of this green vegetable are a great dietary supplement, and most hamsters will indulge eagerly. The key words there are, of course, ‘small quantities’. While broccoli is quite healthy for our pets when it is fed in moderation, it can cause some health problems if given in excess. Because hamsters love broccoli, it is up to you, the pet parent, to regulate their intake. Never give your hamster more broccoli than you think they should eat in one sitting. They will not practice portion control!
Vitamin C, which is often praised for its immunity-boosting superpowers, acts as an antioxidant that can neutralize dangerous free radicals before they have a chance to damage or mutate body cells. This is extremely helpful in the long term—after all, free radical activity is thought to be at least partially responsible for a wide range of ailments. Free radical activity has been linked to the development of arthritis, heart disease, many forms of cancer, and even dementia.
Broccoli is also high in fiber, which may help regulate digestion. Fiber can alleviate diarrhea by soaking up excess water in the colon and adding bulk to stool, which will create firmer, fuller bowel movements. It can also relieve symptoms of constipation by introducing fluid into the intestines and stimulating the intestinal tract. Including high-fiber foods in your hamster’s diet is a great way to keep them regular, which will help with overall health.
Things to Consider
If you cook your broccoli, however, make sure to avoid any flavorings—foods such as butter, salt, and spices can be hard on your hamster’s digestion. Though these flavors are not toxic to pets, they are not healthy, either. Butter is high in fat and calories that can contribute to obesity, and salt can cause dehydration or sodium ion poisoning. Your pet will love broccoli without any added flavors, so there is no reason to introduce potentially harmful foods into their diet.
Overall, broccoli is an excellent treat option for hamsters; it is high in several vitamins and antioxidants that can boost the immune system and decrease risk of disease. If you decide to include broccoli (or any fresh food) in your hamster’s diet, you have to be vigilant about leftovers. Hamsters are hoarders who will hide excess food for days at a time. If you give them broccoli, make sure it’s as fresh as possible to avoid spoilage, and endeavor to remove any leftovers to prevent them from eating food that has gone bad down the road. There’s no harm if your hamster hides some of their dry hamster mix, but hiding fresh produce can be a disaster.