Hamsters are a great pet to have. If you are looking for a pet that can stay inside and demands a moderate expenditure and care, gives great love and affection in return, then hamsters are your go-to option.
One of the most important aspects of taking care of your pet is giving him a healthy diet. Just like a human’s diet consists of all the nutrients that help in proper body growth and functioning, hamsters also need a diet that can provide them with all-inclusive nutrients.
One question lingering in your mind about hamster’s diet would be milk consumption. Well, the simple answer is yes, you can give your hamsters milk. Just like in humans, milk has a lot of benefits in the shape of bone growth and body strength; hamsters can also get such benefits from milk consumption.
In this article, we will explain the basic guidelines you need to follow while giving milk to your hamster and also highlight some of the advantages, drawbacks associated with over-consumption, we will also point out some other options that you can use in order to ensure that your hamster gets his required amount of dairy in his diet.
Guidelines for Giving Milk to Hamsters
Skimmed, not Whole Milk – The most important thing to remember while giving milk to your hamster is that you must serve them skimmed milk, whole milk is high in fat and calories. Such a high amount of fats and calories are not good for the health of your hamster. It can lead to obesity, develop diabetes and ultimately lead to kidney failure and damaging other potential organs of their body. No matter which breed you have, serving only skimmed milk is recommended by the pet experts. You should never give your hamster sweetened milk, chocolate milk or any other dairy product that have high sugar content.
Food Testing – The most basic principle to introduce any new solid or liquid to the diet plan of your pet is to do food testing. The best way to do food testing is to give your hamster a little amount of milk, maybe a couple of drops in this case to your hamster. Make sure that your hamster sucks the milk. Now, wait for a couple of days to check any side effects. If your hamster is pooping more often and is suffering from diarrhea, milk is not his thing. If he is fine after drinking milk and goes on his usual business, then you can add milk to his diet.
Milk Amount and Serving Frequency – Make sure that you keep the amount of milk moderate. Milk is very beneficial, but an overdose can be harmful. If you have a baby hamster, you can give him a little more than an adult hamster. We will be explaining what type of milk and how much you can give to your baby hamster. However, for an adult hamster, a teaspoon of skimmed milk once in a week is sufficient to meet the dairy requirements.
Hamster Size – the amount of milk you need to give to your hamster also depends on the size of the hamster you have. If you have a pet hamster that is large in size, it will need more milk to meet its dairy requirements. Similarly, a smaller hamster needs less amount of milk.
General Care – while serving milk to your hamster, make sure it is skimmed. You can also buy low-fat milk from a nearby grocery store. Make sure that you wash your hands before serving them milk and the utensils are properly sterilized.
Do not leave the milk open in the cage as your hamster can spill the milk in the cage and bedding can also get soiled. This can also be dangerous for the health of your hamster and you will also have to work extra to clean the cage and change the bedding.
Hamster Breeds – As far as the hamster breeds are concerned, all of them can have milk. Syrian hamsters can handle the sugar better then Chinese hamsters and winter white hamsters, so they can have a little extra amount of milk.
Benefits of Milk for the Hamster
Milk has the same benefits for hamsters as it has for humans. It is a rich source of calcium and other important minerals that are helpful in proper bone and skeleton development. A little amount of milk is also helpful in curing cough infections. Milk, in controlled amounts, can also help in maintaining the smoothness of the digestive tract and avoid constipation. Milk is also helpful in making the teeth of hamsters remain strong, since the hamster’s teeth are always growing, so milk will make sure that teeth health is good. Apart from milk, natural and unflavored yogurt can also give the same benefits for hamsters.
Disadvantages of Milk
If the amount of milk given to hamster is not controlled and exceeds the required amount, it can directly impact the stomach of the hamster. Diarrhea and vomiting are the most common symptoms of milk overdose. If the overdose continues for a longer period of time, it can also cause obesity, develop diabetics and cause important organs like kidneys, liver, and heart to fail. So, it is very important to keep the amount of milk under control.
Other Dairy Options
If your hamster is not happy with milk, you can try low-fat cheese, low-fat or fat-free yogurt in moderation. Dairy items with high sugar content must be avoided at all times.
Milk and Baby Hamsters
If you have a baby hamster or the mother has just left the cage and stopped caring for her offspring, you do not need to worry; we have got you covered as well. The baby hamsters need 24 by 7 care and the most important part of their diet is milk. Now you cannot give the mother’s milk but you can rely on the following options to provide them with the best care possible.
Lactol – Lactol is a commercially available powder that is prepared for kittens and puppies. Pet experts and vets are of the view that it is totally perfect for baby hamsters as well. Lactol is found in powdered form, preparing it is easy according to the directions given on the pack.
KMR – KMR is made for kittens, but it can also be used for baby hamsters as well. Just mix the formula as per the directions and serve the baby hamsters.
Baby Formula –You can also use the baby formula for hamsters. In case, you are unable to find Lactol and KMR, you can mix the baby formula in sterile water and heat the water up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. When the milk is cooled down, you can serve your baby hamsters.
No Cow Milk – Make sure that baby hamsters are not given cow milk. Cow milk is high proteins and fats, the baby hamsters cannot digest them. They need milk that is the same as their mother’s milk.
Once you have prepared the milk replacer, fill an eye-dropper and feed each baby hamster about three drops on an hourly basis. You will have to continue this practice for 12 days if you want your hamster to grow healthy and sustain. After 12 days, you can add a solid diet as well.
Though milk is very beneficial for hamsters, an excess can be really problematic. So, milk given in moderation and over a week or a couple of weeks will be great for hamster’s health.