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Home > Hamsters > Can Hamsters Eat Pretzels? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Safety Guide

Can Hamsters Eat Pretzels? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Safety Guide

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Ashley Darby

Veterinarian, BVSc

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Hamsters are gluttonous furballs that won’t turn up their noses at a crumb of food. So, it’s only natural that you want to share your favorite snack with your chubby-cheeked friend. Plus, isn’t this the perfect opportunity to bond with your spirited little rodent?

Unfortunately, pretzels are not good treats for hamsters. In fact, what makes pretzels so delicious for our taste buds could be disastrous for these little critters.

Let’s take a closer look at why hamsters and pretzels don’t mix.


What Are the Main Ingredients of Pretzels?

Homemade pretzels are typically made from dough that consists of flour, water, yeast, and salt. Variations might include additional flavorings, such as cheese or spices.

Commercial pretzels often contain various preservatives for shelf-life longevity, including salt, vegetable oil, and corn syrup.

Homemade pretzels fresh out of the oven
Image Credit: NoirChocolate, Shutterstock

Why Should Hamsters Avoid Munching on Pretzels?

Although pretzels are not inherently toxic to hamsters, they have no place in their diet. These rodents have specific dietary needs that must be met to ensure their well-being, and pretzels lack any of those essential nutrients. For example:

  • Pretzels are high in carbs and fats. Pretzels will lead to weight gain over time due to the carbohydrates and fats present. The ingredients may sometimes also be difficult for hamsters to digest, leading to gastrointestinal upset.
  • They don’t add any nutritive value. Pretzels lack the essential nutrients that hamsters require to thrive. They are primarily made from refined carbohydrates, offering little in terms of vitamins, minerals, and protein.
  • Added seasonings may contain toxic ingredients, such as garlic and onion powder. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, these ingredients are toxic to many species, including cats and dogs. You should not give them to smaller and more delicate creatures like hamsters.
  • Eating too many pretzels could lead to diabetes. According to a study, hamsters that consumed high amounts of saturated fat and calories developed diabetes.1 The researchers also found that the hamsters developed other health issues commonly associated with diabetes in humans, such as kidney disease and problems with blood vessels.

Alternatives to Pretzels

While a tiny bite of pretzel is unlikely to wreak havoc on your hamster, it’s better to choose vet-approved treats like:

  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Unsalted popcorn
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
hamster eating a sunflower seed
Image Credit: apple deng, Pixabay

What’s the Best Diet for Hamsters?

The best diet for hamsters consists of a commercial pelleted rodent mix, a few fresh veggies, and an occasional piece of fruit. Free access to Timothy hay for bedding and to munch on is also a good idea.

Here’s a breakdown of each component of a healthy pelleted rodent diet:

  • 15–20% protein
  • 35–40% carbs
  • 4–5% fat
  • 5-10% fiber

That said, make sure you don’t overfeed your hamster. A good guideline is about 2 tablespoons of pellets and 1 teaspoon of fresh vegetables per day. You can also seek advice from your vet to adjust your hamster’s diet based on their size, age, and overall health.

Also, don’t overdo it with fresh foods. While veggies and fruits can provide variety and nutrients, they must be given in moderation to avoid upsetting your rodent’s delicate digestive system. Diarrhea is a common health issue in hamsters. Introduce new foods slowly, and observe how your hamster reacts to them.

Should I Give Vitamins and Supplements to My Hamster?

No, hamsters do not require extra vitamins when fed a proper diet. A good commercial pelleted rodent food should be nutritionally complete and contain all the vitamins that they need.

Djungarian hamster eating food in the cage
Image Credit: atewi, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

While it’s tempting to share a pretzel with your little pet, it’s best to hold back. Pretzels themselves aren’t toxic to hamsters, but they offer little nutritional value and can potentially cause digestive issues. Instead, focus on providing your rodent with a high-quality commercial pelleted diet, a few fresh vegetables, and fruits or seeds as occasional treats. Don’t worry, your furry friend won’t hold a grudge against you for not sharing your favorite snack with them!

Featured Image Credit: Pierre Gui, Unsplash

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