Can Hamsters Eat
August 15, 2021
As a hamster owner, you probably know hamsters can eat many different foods. Mainly, they should eat high-quality hamster food, but you can offer them all kinds of snacks from nuts and grains to veggies and meat.
This is one reason people love to have hamsters as pets. Not only is it cute to watch them hoard their food, but their diverse diet also makes it fun to think of all the kinds of foods your hamster might like to try out.
If you’re also a dog owner, letting your hamster have a taste of your dog’s food might sound like a fun idea. Because hamsters have such a varied diet, you might wonder can hamsters eat dog food. After all, they do eat such a wide variety of foods.
We’re happy to see you doing your research because, as a responsible pet owner, you should always check each food item for safety before giving it to your hammy.
So, let’s take a closer look to determine whether it’s safe for hamsters to have dog food.
Can Hamsters Have Dog Food?
Differences & Similarities In Diets Explained
When it comes to nutrition, hamster and dogs actually have something in common. That is that they both are omnivores and use both plant-based and animal-based food sources for energy. This means that although very different in many ways, both hamsters and dogs can eat many kinds of foods, including meat, veggies, and fruits.
Although the majority of a dog’s daily food intake will consist of meat, their diet can also contain veggies, fruits, and grains. Dogs can derive energy and nutrients from plant-based sources as well, and they shouldn’t be considered plainly fillers because they have a lot of nutritional value too.
Hamsters are the same in the sense that they, too, can get their energy and nutrients from a variety of food items. For hamsters, the majority of their daily food intake should consist of high-quality hamster pellets that are plant-based and contain a lot of fiber, but they enjoy vegetables, fruits, grains, and seeds too.
Still, when you take a closer look at the diet of both animals, you can see that they have more differences than similarities:
Hamster Food vs. Meat
Hamsters get 90% of their energy from pelleted hamster food or a muesli-style seed mix. We recommend pellets over a food mix because they offer a balanced diet and prevent selective eating.
On the other hand, dogs get most of their energy from high-quality dog food, which can be either dry food (kibble) or wet food. Some owners prepare their dog’s food from scratch, but we don’t recommend this unless you follow instructions from a dog nutritionist. Making your dog’s food yourself may lead to malnutrition because ensuring the right balance between all nutrients, vitamins, and minerals is challenging.
While dry kibble for dogs and hamster food pellets resemble one another, they have a very different composition nutritionwise. Both foods are species-specific and have been formulated to meet each animal’s physiological and dietary requirements.
As such, the foods are not interchangeable and should not be fed regularly to any other species than which they have been tailored for.
Still, you might be wondering if a hamster can have dog food in small amounts or occasionally. If it’s not fed regularly, is there a health risk involved? We’ll get to that in a minute.
Bugs vs. Beef
Hamsters and dogs both eat meat, but in very different ways.
For dogs, meat makes up about 2/3 of their diet. Although they are omnivores, dogs are more on the carnivorous side and have only started eating other foods than meat after they started living with humans. Hamsters, however, require only a small portion of their diet to come from animal protein and can thrive without meat.
Hamsters and dogs have very different nutritional needs
Although hamsters mostly eat insects and bugs like mealworms, you can also give them some cooked egg white, beef, chicken, turkey, or fish. On the other hand, dogs do eat meats like beef and chicken, but insects are a part of their diet only on the occasional summer day when they are interested in a buzzing fly and accidentally gobble it up.
Veggies and Fruits
Both hamsters and dogs do enjoy veggies and fruits, but in very different quantities, of course.
There are many fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens, which both hamsters and dogs can enjoy. Also, there are some which can make both sick. Before feeding any new foods to your pet, make sure they are safe.
Although hamsters and dogs are both omnivores, they may have different reactions to foods. Therefore, you should always check first because not all foods that are safe for dogs are safe for hamsters.
Grains and seeds
Both dogs and hamsters can eat grains, which are added to both hamster food and dog food. Although many pet owners consider grains as fillers, they can actually provide healthy vitamins and minerals in addition to being a source of fiber that promotes healthy digestion.
Dogs and hamsters also eat seeds, although while they are perfectly good food for hamsters, you might want to consider whether you want to feed seeds to a dog. This is because they are high in fat and hard to digest, which means they may cause weight gain or impaction in dogs.
Dogs and hamsters are very different in size. Even the smallest teacup breeds are huge when compared to a Syrian hamster and even bigger when compared to dwarf hamsters. What this means is that both animals have different requirements for food.
Just because their mouths are so unlike in size, what may seem like the tiniest little morsel to a Great Dane, may still be huge for a hamster. This needs to be taken into consideration when deciding if a hamster can eat dog food.
Secondly, what a large dog might consider one meal could last weeks for a hamster. With this realization comes the fact that even a few pieces of dog kibble can significantly affect a hamster’s diet. Something that dogs think of as a tiny treat can, in fact, make up the majority of a hamster’s daily food intake. Therefore, if it is not nutritionally balanced, it can affect your hamster’s health fairly quickly.
Now that we’ve established the similarities and differences between dogs and hamsters diet-wise, let’s move on to the question we had at the beginning: can hamsters eat dog food?
Can Hamster Eat Dog Food?
Yes and no. Having a taste of dog food will not likely harm your hamster. There is nothing in dog food that is toxic or could be considered harmful if it’s only a small amount of dog food we are talking about. However, dog food is unsuitable for hamsters and should not be fed regularly because it is too high in protein and fat and does not provide all the nutrients they need.
However, there are some dog treats your hamster can enjoy regularly, and some hamster owners also feed dog biscuits to their hammies.
Let’s have a closer look at what dog food you can and can’t feed to your hamster.
Can Hamsters Eat Dry Dog Food?
No, hamsters should not eat dry dog food as a part of their daily diet or instead of hamster food specially formulated for hamsters. However, hamsters can eat dry dog food, and eating a few pellets won’t harm them. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s good for them, and if dog food makes up a too-large portion of their daily food intake, they are likely to suffer health problems.
- When compared to hamster foods, dog foods are high in protein and fat. This means that your hamster will be getting too much of both if it is fed dog food instead of hamster food. If it’s only an occasional treat, it’s likely to do no harm. However, in the long run, a high-energy diet may cause weight gain, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in hamsters. Also, too much protein is not good for your hamster’s kidneys.
- Dog food pellets also have significantly less fiber than hamster food. If your hamster eats dry dog food regularly, it may cause problems with digestion as hamsters are used to a high-fiber diet.
So no, your hamster should not be fed dry dog food on a regular basis but offering a few small pellets here and there as an occasional treat is fine if your hamster seems to enjoy them.
Can Hamsters Eat Wet Dog Food?
Again, yes, hamsters can eat wet dog food, but it isn’t good for them if fed too often. There is nothing toxic for hamsters in wet dog food, but because it is higher in protein and fats than what hamsters require from their diet, it is not suitable for a daily source of energy.
If you want, you can offer your hamster a taste of wet dog food occasionally. Just keep in mind that hamsters are small critters, and the serving size should be kept very small.
Even small amounts of dog food contain a lot of animal protein and fat for a small hamster and could cause issues with the weight and kidneys.
Can Hamsters Eat Dog Treats?
Yes! Hamsters can eat dog treats (at least some of them). Although dog food is not good for them as it contains too much protein and fats, some dog treats are perfect for keeping your hamsters’ teeth trim and offering them a fun snack that keeps them busy.
Dog food is high in protein and fat because it’s what your dog needs from its main energy source. Dog treats, however, are often grain-based and contain less protein and fats compared to dog food. This makes them excellent treats for hamsters.
We highly recommend Whimzees, which make for a perfect treat for your hamster. They will give your hamster something to do, and chewing on the tough surface will help keep their teeth healthy and short.
Just remember, that one treat will give your hamster something to chew on for days. Also, Whimzees or any other dog treat should not replace hamster food as the main energy source.
Another thing we want to talk about is the fact that not all dog treats are suitable for hamsters. Dogs eat a variety of different treats, and most of them are not good for hamsters. Although Whimzees are a healthy and safe snack for your hammy, dog treats like jerky or bones should not be fed to hamsters.
Can Hamsters Eat Dog Biscuits?
Yes, hamsters can eat dog biscuits, although they are not recommended due to their high-calorie content.
Milk-Bone Dog Biscuits are one option but should be offered only on rare occasions and in tiny portions. They are a great way to keep your hamster busy, offer a tasty treat, and promote oral health when served in strict moderation.
Keep in mind that many dog treats are not safe for hamsters, and you should always check before feeding any dog treats to your hammy.
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Bottom Line – Can Hamsters Eat Dog Food?
Because hamsters and dogs have very different nutritional needs, feeding dog food to your hamster is not recommended. However, it is always advisable to feed your pet with species-specific foods that match the dietary requirements of said animal.
Dog food is high in fat and protein, which could cause your hamster to gain weight and suffer from health issues. As a rare treat, dog food is unlikely to cause any problems, but we highly recommend it is only served occasionally and in strict moderation.
Having said that, Whimzee chews are a great addition to your hamster’s treat stash. We recommend them as they support dental health and keep your hamster active while offering a taste of something delicious.
I never recommend feeding dog food to your hamster; however, if your little hammy is exploring the kitchen in their ball and comes upon a piece of canine kibble, then it’s unlikely to cause a major issue to them.
Still, kibbles are higher in calories than their own pellets and can cause tummy upsets in some hamsters. If you choose to offer your hamster a dog treat such as a WHIMZEE to chew on, you shouldn’t leave it with them all the time as they’re high-calorie and don’t provide a balanced diet for your hammy and could cause tummy upsets. One of these treats will last your hamster weeks.
– Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
NOTE: Advice provided within this article by FeedingMyPet.com is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your pet’s specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.