Can Hamsters Have Cucumbers?
For our entire lives, our doctors have been telling us to eat more green vegetables—they practically get down on their knees and beg for us to put the bag of chips down and eat a salad, a bowl of steamed broccoli, a stalk of celery smothered in peanut butter, or even a single, solitary spinach leaf every once in a while. Despite the current green juice trend, many of us stick our noses up when we are presented with kale, cooked spinach, and Brussels sprouts. There are a handful of green vegetables that almost everyone enjoys, however, and cucumbers are one of them.
Though they do not qualify as leafy greens, cucumbers are still technically green vegetables, and they do contain the fluid and fiber that our doctors are looking for when they beg us to start eating veggies. Cucumbers are readily available, affordable, and pretty easy to store, which is why so many of us have them in our crispers. We like to use cucumbers to make all sorts of salads and soups, but, in recent years, many people have found other uses for them. Most of us know someone who likes to spiralize cucumbers into spaghetti noodles or chop them up and use them to make cucumber infused water.
We know cucumbers are a great snack for us, but what about our pets? Our vets aren’t quite as obsessed with greens as our doctors are, so what’s a pet parent to do? Can you give your hamster cucumbers?
The answer is yes, absolutely! Hamsters can eat cucumbers in moderation. Cucumbers are completely nontoxic, so there is nothing to worry about if you have already given them a generous helping of sliced cucumbers—there is no such thing as ‘cucumber poisoning,’ and no need to take them to the vet. Cucumbers are an excellent option for hamsters who enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. But, like all vegetables, you should only feed them to your furry friend in moderation, otherwise they may develop digestive problems.
Cucumbers are not the most nutritionally dense vegetables available to us and our hamsters, but they are among the healthiest, tastiest, and most easily digestible. These refreshing veggies are full of water and dietary fiber, which are great for full-body health. If your hamster, like many pets, is averse to drinking water, giving them watery foods like cucumbers can be a great way to keep them properly hydrated.
The fiber and water in cucumbers can help regulate hamster digestion, too. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of constipation, so simply increasing the amount of liquid in your hamster’s diet can be a great way to get their bowels moving in a timely manner once more. The fiber in cucumbers will definitely help fight their digestive woes, too—fiber soaks up water a lot like a sponge, which makes it a great vehicle for fluid. Fiber-rich cucumbers can carry fluid into the intestines, softening and lubricating hardened or impacted stool and making it much easier to pass.
Dietary fiber also adds bulk to stool, which stimulates the intestines to expel it from the body. This is why increasing the amount of fiber your pet eats is one of the best ways to combat occasional constipation. The combination of fiber and water has also been linked to a decreased risk of developing other health problems, including heart attacks and strokes. Cucumbers definitely will not fix or prevent any disease, but they can help support your hamster’s body so they can stay as healthy as possible.
Even though cucumbers are not as nutritious as kale, spinach, or broccoli, they do have some beneficial micronutrients. They contain Vitamin A, several B Vitamins, Vitamin C, and small amounts of Vitamin D, as well as important minerals like calcium and potassium, which are important for bone health.
Cucumbers contain silica, which can protect and strengthen the connective tissues that make up your hamster’s joints. They also have potassium, which prevents high blood pressure, protects heart health, and supports immunity.
Like most vegetables, cucumbers contain some antioxidants, which may be able to lower your pet’s risk of developing certain diseases. Antioxidants fight disease by neutralizing dangerous metabolic waste products, known as free radicals. Free radical activity is believed to contribute to the development of diseases like heart disease, insulin resistance, diabetes, arthritis, and many types of cancer, so antioxidant-rich foods are a great way to reduce your pet’s risk of chronic or life-threatening illness.
Cucumbers are excellent treats for hamsters who are overweight or obese. Thanks to their high fiber and water content, they are extremely low in calories—one medium cucumber has less than 15 calories! Because they are high in fiber, yet provide hardly any energy, they can take up space in your pet’s stomach without actually adding a whole lot of calories to their diet. This means that your hamster can enjoy the feeling of a full tummy without blowing their diet, allowing you to decrease their caloric intake without making them deal with constant hunger.
Things to Consider
Still, even the healthiest foods can be unhealthy when they are consumed in excess, and the same holds true for cucumbers. Hamster diets should have a foundation of hamster seed mixes, with fresh fruits and vegetables like cucumbers serving as supplementary foods. Giving your hamster too many cucumbers will not poison them, but it will probably cause upset stomach and diarrhea.
Diarrhea is the biggest danger—left untreated, it can lead to severe dehydration and other health problems. If your hamster develops diarrhea after going on a cucumber binge, restrict their fresh vegetable intake. If their symptoms do not improve quickly, seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Hamsters are tiny, fragile animals, and throwing their digestion out of whack can have serious side effects.
In conclusion, cucumbers are an excellent treat for most hamsters. They are low in calories and full of fiber and water, so they are not likely to contribute to weight gain. They also provide small amounts of several vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can support immune health in the long term. Just remember to introduce cucumbers to your hamster slowly, as feeding them too much can cause diarrhea.