Feeding SunFlower Seeds

The question often arises whether sunflower seed may be bad for hamsters. The answer is no, as long as they are fed in moderation. Sunflower seed kernels are a wonderful source of the many vitamins, minerals, good fats and antioxidants that are needed in the hamsters’ diet, these are just a few of the good reasons for feeding sunflower seeds to your pet hamster as they play an important role in contributing to a healthy diet..
Sunflower seeds contain a multitude of vitamins, both water soluble vitamins and fat soluble. Excessive, or extra doses of water soluble vitamins that are not needed by the body is simply flushed out in the urine without causing any harm to your pet. There are nine water soluble vitamins, eight of which are B vitamins, and one C vitamin, it should be noted that too much vitamin C can cause diarrhea. Water soluble vitamins are the vitamins that are not stored in the body. The other four vitamins are fat soluble vitamins, these are Vitamin A. Beta Carotene or Retinol. Vitamin D, E, and K. these vitamins are fat soluble, and fat soluble vitamins are stored in the body and an excessive amount of these can become toxic

sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are a highly nutritious food and should be served in moderation in a varied low-fat and high carbohydrate diet. As with all good and tasty things in moderation is the key to optimum health for our pets.
 As with any food their use depends upon their nutritional value. Because of the enormous variations in nutrient content from one seed to another and to avoid the misuse of seeds certain facts should be considered. Hamsters' have neither the instinct nor ability to choose a balanced diet from the array of food that is placed in front of them. Most seeds have a high fat content and when given the choice a hamster will always select the seeds with the highest fat content, over the ones with a lower fat content, simply because they taste better. Hamsters are selective eaters and will search through their food until finally selecting their favorite bits and sunflower seed are most hamsters' favorite seeds.

Sunflower seeds contain a whopping 47% - 49% fat, and while they can contribute to a balanced diet, alone they are a deficient food much too high in fats. Sunflower seeds and peanuts are high fat foods that need to be restricted to a small part of the diet, as high fat diets can shorten the life of a hamster. Although nuts and seeds are packed with valuable and much needed nutrients they are also very high in fat as well as calories. But the oils / fats they contain are mono and polyunsaturated types, which are the good fats and are less likely to promote clogging or hardening of the arteries as animal fats do. Although they are considered the good fats no fat in excessive consumption is good. Sunflower seeds as the main ingredient of the diet invite disease. High fat diets contribute to the same health problems in hamsters as they do in humans. Hamsters' can become obese and have high cholesterol levels, suffer strokes, heart attacks, and heart problems from a high intake of fat.

hamster sunflower seed

 So, are sunflower seed really bad for hamsters? The answer is no, they play a very important role in the diet but like everything else they should be fed in moderation. Almost all manufacturers’ of ready mixed hamster food include an assured amount of sunflower seed. These are added to the food in the required quantities that are needed in their diet. It is also important to know that ingestion of a high fat diet such as eating primarily sunflower seed diet may be detrimental because fats, whether they are good or bad fats may reduce calcium absorption.

Sudden weight loss in a hamster:

Many hamsters just love sunflower seeds this is because they taste much better than the other seeds in their diet. If he is allowed a high intake of sunflower seed he may appear to lose weight, this is by way of eating too many of his favorite sun flower seeds and not enough carbohydrates. Although this does not mean he is actually losing weight it means the body is becoming a more efficient fat burner. So a once bonnie hamster can use his body fat store very quickly, appearing to lose weight. He may then experience a condition called "Ketosis". As sunflower seeds are high in fats and low in carbohydrates, you may think that because he is eating fat he will get fatter. Not necessarily, it doesn't work like that; if you eat no carbohydrates and eat just fat you will not only stop getting fat but will actually get thinner. When the body starts burning fat in the absence of sufficient glucose ketones are then produced. Ketone bodies, or ketones, are water soluble chemical compounds which are produced in large amounts when the body starts utilizing its fat to obtain the energy it needs, the condition of Ketosis then occurs. This is a condition in the body when there are abnormally high levels of acidic compounds, commonly known as ketone bodies in the blood, these are toxic.
Symptoms of ketosis are tiredness and fatigue; usually seen in the early initial stages, followed by a constant and excessive thirst, weakness, unsteady gait, and in some cases diarrhea.

The easiest way to reverse ketosis is by including carbohydrates in the diet. Although many hamsters can lose a little body weight as they ages it would be a good idea to keep them off seeds and nuts for a while, and putting him on a high-carb diet until he puts a little more weight on. You don't have to buy anything special for him, most of the everyday human food can supply him with all the carbohydrates he needs. Numerous things like vegetables, eggs, cereals, corn, whole wheat bread, carrots, plain yogurt, oatmeal, maize, barley, cornmeal, pasta, macaroni, and many other things you have in the cupboard or fridge may be added to this list at very little cost.
Ketosis should not be confused with Ketoacidosis (Diabetic ketoacidosis) which is severe ketosis causing the pH of the blood to drop. Ketoacidosis is a medical condition caused by diabetes and accompanied by dehydration, hyperglycaemia. 


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