Chocolate is one of my favorite foods.
I love it in every form – dark chocolate, white chocolate, caramel chocolate, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate bars – you name it, I love it!
And if you’re like 98% of the world’s population (just guessing), you probably love chocolate too.
But does your parrot feel the same way?
After all, how could you not love chocolate?
But just because Polly loves chocolate doesn’t mean Polly should eat chocolate.
This leads us to our question – is chocolate safe for our parrots to eat?
The simple answer to this question is no. Chocolate is not safe for parrots to eat and should not be given to them under any circumstances. In fact, chocolate is extremely toxic to parrots and can have damaging effects when consumed.
But why is chocolate so dangerous for birds?
And what should you do if your parrot consumes chocolate?
Today we will answer these questions along with others including:
- Can parrots eat dark chocolate?
- Can parrots eat milk chocolate?
- What will happen to a parrot that consumes chocolate?
- How can I keep chocolate away from my parrot?
So let’s get started…
Can parrots eat milk chocolate?
As stated above, the answer to this question is no.
Parrots cannot eat milk chocolate.
Most people are aware that chocolate is highly toxic to other pets like cats and dogs, but aren’t aware that the same applies to parrots.
Milk chocolate and milk chocolate products should never be given to birds, even in small amounts.
Parrots are very lightweight and even the smallest amount of chocolate can have a negative impact on their systems.
Just how bad is chocolate for parrots?
It’s very bad!
In fact, it’s toxic.
But before we talk more about the toxicity of chocolate and why it’s so bad for parrots, let’s first answer one more question..
Can parrots eat dark chocolate?
Again, the answer to this question is no.
Chocolate is chocolate regardless of what flavor or form it comes in.
Dark chocolate and white chocolate are both just as toxic to parrots as milk chocolate.
Similarly, chocolate is toxic in all forms regardless of whether it comes in a cookie, in a chocolate bar, or in chocolate milk.
As a rule of thumb, if a product has chocolate as an ingredient, it should never be given to your parrot.
Can parrots eat white chocolate?
White chocolate is somewhat of an exception to the rule.
The main ingredient in chocolate that causes toxicity is cocoa.
The majority of white chocolates do contain cocoa butter, and are therefore still dangerous for parrots.
With that being said, the toxins within the cocoa (caffeine and theobromine) are much less in white chocolate than they are in other chocolates.
In return, white chocolate isn’t as deadly as milk or dark chocolate for parrots.
Furthermore, some white chocolates are made without cocoa at all.
And while this makes them less toxic, it doesn’t mean that you should feed it to your parrot.
Even though the toxic ingredient may be missing, white chocolate still contains large amounts of milk and sugar, neither of which are healthy for your bird.
So while some types of white chocolate contain toxins for parrots, others don’t.
Either way, I still don’t suggest ever feeding your parrot white chocolate – why take the risk?
Why is chocolate so toxic to parrots?
The main culprit of toxicity in chocolate is known as Theobromine.
A type of alkaloid compound, Theobromine is commonly found in cocoa beans, and these beans are used to make all types of chocolate.
While dark chocolate contains the highest amount of Theobromine, milk chocolate also contains deadly amounts, and so do most white chocolates (as discussed above).
As a general rule of thumb, the sweeter the chocolate (or the more sugar it contains), the less Theobromine it contains.
Still, no chocolate should ever be given to your parrot, regardless of how little Theobromine it contains.
To elaborate on Theobromine, it can be classified under the same category as caffeine.
Such an ingredient is safe for people to eat, but is deadly to most household pets – including parrots.
In fact, parrots may be at greater risk of poisoning than other pets because of their smaller size and more rapid metabolisms.
A parrots body is not equipped to digest Theobromine, and ingestion can therefore lead to numerous complications.
What can happen if my parrot eats chocolate?
If you have a parrot, chocolate should always be kept in a safe place where it is not accessible.
Remember, just because you know that chocolate is toxic doesn’t mean your parrot does too.
And trust me, your parrot would dive into the opportunity to sneak a piece of chocolate if it was left lying around!
But what would happen if your parrot did sneak a piece of chocolate when you weren’t looking?
Have you ever heard of the term “death by chocolate?”
Well, I don’t mean to scare you, but death by chocolate is a real possibility if ingested by a parrot.
Even small amounts of chocolate can be deadly to our feathered friends.
With that being said, symptoms may vary from parrot to parrot and may depend upon how much chocolate was ingested.
Death is not inevitable (but it is possible).
Other symptoms of chocolate intake for parrots may include:
What should you do if your parrot has eaten chocolate?
If your parrot has eaten chocolate (of any kind), you should seek medical attention immediately.
This is true regardless of how much or how little your parrot has ingested.
Again, even the smallest amount of chocolate can be deadly for parrots, so you should take them to a veterinarian regardless of how much they have eaten.
Furthermore, if your parrot has ingested chocolate, do not wait for symptoms to arise before seeking medical attention.
By this time it may already be too late.
Tiny amounts of chocolate can hit a parrots digestive system immediately after intake, leading to instant vomiting and diarrhea.
If not treated, the central nervous system can be attacked, and within hours ingestion can lead to worsening symptoms including seizures or death.
How will a veterinarian treat chocolate toxicity?
Treatment for chocolate toxicity in parrots will depend on several factors including the amount of chocolate ingested, the time of ingestion, and the severity of the symptoms present at time of visit.
The more information you can give to the veterinarian, the better able they will be to provide proper and necessary treatment.
What can you do to prevent chocolate toxicity?
Keep chocolate away from your parrot by storing it in a safe place.
The safest place for chocolate or other toxic foods is in a cupboard or in a sealed container where your parrot cannot see it or gain access to it.
Avoid eating chocolate around your parrot.
This will avoid any temptations for your parrot to steal it out of your hand.
If you must eat chocolate in the presence of your parrot, ensure that they are caged or contained while doing so.
Check all food labels before feeding your parrot.
Some items may contain chocolate or cocoa without you knowing, so always be sure to read the labels before feeding uncertain foods to your parrot.
Wash your hands after eating chocolate products.
As mentioned previously, even the smallest amount of chocolate can harm your parrot.
It’s unlikely that leftovers on your fingers will end up in your parrot’s mouth, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Immediately clean up any chocolate that falls on the floor or other surfaces.
This is to stop your feathered friend from eating some off the floor.
In conclusion, let’s reiterate.
Yes, Polly wanted a cracker and he wanted chocolate too – but he wasn’t allowed to have it!
Parrots cannot, under any circumstances, have chocolate or chocolate products.
Chocolate is not just unhealthy for parrots, it’s downright toxic.
Even the smallest amount of chocolate can cause harm to your parrot if ingested.
If for any reason your parrot has had chocolate, take them to the veterinarian immediately for further instructions.