Yoghurt Drops: Unhealthy Snacks for Small Animals?

If you look at the list of ingredients of some treats, such as yoghurt drops, that are commercially available for small animals, it quickly becomes clear: these supposed delicacies are not at all suitable for guinea pigs, rabbits and the like. Unhealthy snacks like these contain too much sugar, sometimes elusive fillers, and low-quality ingredients.

Guinea pigs are pure vegans and would much rather eat daisies than yogurt drops - Shutterstock / Gordana Sermek

Guinea pigs are pure vegans and would much rather eat daisies than yogurt drops – Shutterstock / Gordana Sermek

Unfortunately, small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice or rats do not know for themselves what food is good for them and what is harmful to them. Yoghurt drops are happily accepted and eaten by most little animals, but usually contain almost no valuable nutrients, but many unhealthy ingredients.

Yoghurt drops contain too many inferior ingredients

If you read the composition of yoghurt drops, you will find nebulous terms such as “dairy products”, “oils and fats” or “cereals” on the list of ingredients, without explaining what is meant by them. Sometimes the term “yoghurt powder” is also included with a percentage. But “milk and dairy products (yogurt powder 4%)” only means that four percent of the dairy products consist of yogurt powder. This raises the question of what makes up the remaining 96 percent of dairy products – under certain circumstances, this can be all sorts of waste from milk and milk product production, such as whey, leftover cheese or other cheap fillers. “Oils and fats” without specifying which oils and fats are involved are also very likely to be inferior products, perhaps even waste. You don’t even know if they are of animal or vegetable origin.

“Grain” is also a vague term, leaving the consumer in the dark as to the real ingredients. And as if that weren’t bad enough, the yoghurt drops usually also contain sugar, which small animals of any kind really can’t use. Unfortunately, it cannot be ruled out that the snacks contain sugar – even if the term is not literally found on the ingredients list. Because dairy products can contain milk sugar, for example, which is just as unhealthy. Also, don’t be fooled by the fact that vitamins are advertised on the packaging. There is a great risk that the composition is not at all correctly tailored to your rabbit, guinea pig, hamster or chinchilla. In addition, some of the packaging says that the small animals are allowed to eat up to two drops a day (“feeding recommendation”) – that is far too much.

"Om-nom-nom, that's delicious"finds this rabbit in the green field – Shutterstock / Sergey Kudryavtsev
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  • nutrition tips

06/03/2016 – 12:05 p.m

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Some small animals are vegan

Yoghurt drops are often offered for rabbits or guinea pigs, leading consumers to believe that the snacks are ideal treats for their small animals. Guinea pigs, rabbits and chinchillas in particular do not need any animal products at all, as they are vegans, i.e. pure herbivores. Mice, rats and hamsters, on the other hand, sometimes need animal proteins and often tolerate unsweetened, lean natural yoghurt well. However, no animal can use sugar, inferior fillers, unclear additives or cheap waste products from the food industry.

Avoiding Unhealthy Snacks: Alternatives

Plain and simple, yogurt drops are sweets that even taste reasonably tasty to the human tongue, a bit like white chocolate that’s a bit older and not particularly high-quality. Since people tend to infer others from themselves, they may think that their rodents and furry friends like the little bites just as much and that they are making them happy. It may seem that way, because most of the time the little animals really like to eat the drops. But just because they like to eat it doesn’t mean it’s good for them. For example, children also enjoy eating chocolate, candy, and other sweets, and in moderation, brushing their teeth regularly will not harm them. However, if they eat a bar of chocolate or a bag of gummy bears every day and neglect dental care, there is a risk of obesity with a simultaneous lack of nutrients, tooth and skin problems.

This is also the case with mice, rats and hamsters if they are given yoghurt drops on a regular basis. The amount of nutrients that they can really use is so small that it doesn’t really benefit them – especially since they can get animal proteins much better from healthier sources that they also like. In addition to the natural yoghurt already mentioned, they often tolerate other dairy products without sugar and, if possible, with little or no salt, such as low-fat quark or cottage cheese. Various insects are also good sources of protein. Certain pieces of fresh fruit and vegetables can be fed as healthy snacks in moderation. These are also edible for the vegan guinea pigs, rabbits and chinchillas. Meerlis and long-eared animals are also happy about freshly picked, clean meadow herbs such as dandelions or daisies as well as fresh grass.

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