Chocolates are a household staple when snacking, a delicacy no one can deny.
It is not rare for our curious pets to sneak a bite of our snacks. As bird owners or people with a general fondness for feeding wild birds, we often wonder: Can birds eat chocolate?
Birds should steer clear of chocolate at all costs. Chocolate is an absolute no-no for birds due to its highly toxic theobromine content. Ingestion of chocolate could lead to increased heart rate, restlessness, seizures, vomiting, and diarrhea – all of which can be deadly!
Surveys conducted by local animal hospitals show in 2016, there were an estimated 2,000 cases of dogs suffering from chocolate poisoning. Do birds suffer from this as well?
Hence, without further ado, let’s discuss the effects of feeding chocolates to birds.
Is Chocolate Bad for Birds?
Unlike us, most animals can’t afford the luxury of chocolate consumption. Therefore, it is essential to have thorough research before exposing your pets to such foods.
Cacao beans are the main ingredient of all chocolate products. In addition, cacao is the primary source of theobromine; caffeinated foods are second on the list of natural cultivators.
In humans, the liver contains the enzyme required to digest theobromine. However, animals can’t metabolize theobromine. So it makes chocolate one of the most toxic foods ingested by birds or other animals.
Foods with theobromine withhold the power of potential deaths in animals as large as black bears. It is best to keep your caffeinated or chocolate treats out of reach from birds and other pets.
What Are the Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning?
Theobromine poisoning can start effect within 72 hours of ingestion. However, since it has a half-life of 17.5 hours, the damage begins shortly after ingestion in smaller animals.
The hazards following chocolate ingestion include:
- Heart Arrhythmia
- Right Atrial Cardiomyopathy
- Heart Failure
- Sudden Cardiac Death
- Digestive Organ Failures
As seen above, complications caused by theobromine poisoning can be instantly fatal for birds and other animals. Even the slightest amount, such as 2 grams, is capable of causing death in our beloved avians.
If your bird ingests even a nibble of chocolate, contact your vet that very instance, or else complications will follow soon after.
My Bird Ate a Little Bit of Chocolate! What Can I Do?
Unlike some animals, most birds have sweet beaks. Therefore, it is inevitable to keep your birds away from anything remotely looking like chocolate if it sees you have one.
Say one of your birds manages to sneak a bite – what can you do to save it from theobromine poisoning?
You can go through the following steps:
1. Stop Further Consumption
This section entails preventing your bird from eating more chocolate than it has already. As the amount of chocolate intensifies in its system, it becomes harder to treat theobromine poisoning.
Your actions should be the following:
- What type of chocolate did your bird consume?
- How much?
- How long has it been?
Investigating all of these will help with moving forward to the next step.
2. Consult a Vet or Animal Poison Helpline
The previous steps allow rushing to the vet without assessing the cause of your bird’s theobromine poisoning. The only reason for this is that time is of the essence.
Try to provide your vet or helpline with as much information as possible. You should also include any packaging of the chocolate your bird consumed.
3. Aftercare for Your Birds
Chocolate poisoning can be highly detrimental to your bird’s health. Hence, following up on your bird’s aftercare during and after treatments is essential.
In between treatments, your bird will likely suffer from vomiting and diarrhea. It can lead to extreme dehydration that requires treatment by increasing your bird’s fluid intake.
However, the main thing to take care of is preventing such accidents in the future.
How Can We Prevent Chocolate Toxicity?
The occurrence of chocolate poisoning once is enough to take a toll on your bird and you. The entire treatment is excruciating for your bird, both physically and mentally.
So how can you prevent it from happening again? Here’s how:
- Educate your family and children about chocolate toxicity in animals.
- Keep any chocolate or caffeine products out of reach from your curious birdies.
- Train your bird to avoid harmful foods such as chocolate.
Your Bird Nags You for Sweets? Here Are Some Healthy Options!
In many instances, it is advised to new bird enthusiasts that sweet treats open the gateway to winning a bird’s trust. While it is true, the problems that arise from introducing a bird to sweet treats go amiss.
The fundamental problem surfaces when your bird gets a sugar fixation. Complex sugars such as sucrose that we consume as table sugar daily are highly detrimental to your bird’s health.
Birds cannot metabolize complex sugars; in the same way as chocolates. Hence, bakery items and other sugary foods are a big no-no for your birds.
Don’t know any sweet snacks that will satiate your bird’s sweet tooth? Try these out.
Fruits: Fruits are the first thing that comes to mind as a healthy snack for your birds.
Fruits of all sorts are immensely beneficial for your birds. They contain simple sugars such as fructose and glucose. It makes them perfect for your birds, as they still satiate your bird’s sweet cravings while delivering vital nutrients.
DIY Nutriberries: Trust me when I say that DIY Nutriberries for your birds is a bang for your buck. What else does a bird need, if not a sweet treat that benefits its diet?
It is all-important to treat your birds to healthy snacks like Nutriberries if they are pesky about eating fruits.
Peppers: Peppers might be a bizarre snack for us humans. However, to birds, they are somewhat the holy grail when it comes to snacking.
They seem to acquire quite a fondness for peppers making it an excellent snack, sweet or not.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here I answered the FAQs about feeding chocolate to birds.
Can Birds Eat Chocolate Cake?
No birds can consume anything that contains cacao or coffee. Theobromine is severely toxic to birds.
It creates bitterness in cacao and cannot be destroyed in chocolate through any processing to be redeemed safe for any animal.
Any product that contains chocolate is harmful to birds.
Can Birds Eat Chocolate Chip Cookies?
Chocolate chip cookies are human foods that contain large amounts of saturated fat that can cause obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
It spikes their LDL-cholesterol levels, leading to heart attacks and strokes.
Theobromine in the chocolate chips is also potent enough to incite toxicity symptoms. Providing natural foods as treats is the best option.
Can Birds Eat Chocolate Cereal?
Chocolate cereals are made of chocolate. It is toxic to birds due to the theobromine content. Cereals made of wheat are a good source of fiber.
Can Birds Eat Chocolate Biscuits?
Like chocolate chip cookies, chocolate biscuits are also harmful to birds.
Not only are they toxic because of the chocolate, but the high amount of sugar can also increase blood sugar levels and cause heart diseases.
Can Wild Birds Eat Chocolate?
Birds shouldn’t consume chocolate, especially wild birds. Why, might you ask?
Wild birds are part of flocks that replicate each other’s behavior. If one bird is to consume chocolate, the rest will follow, causing deaths in many.
It’s best to reiterate that foods with a hint of cocoa or caffeine, such as chocolate, can be deadly to your birds. Theobromine poisoning is not to be taken lightly in any manner.
Always check the content of the food you provide to wild or pet birds. You should also be aware of disposing or littering chocolate packaging out in habitats of wild birds.
If you suspect your bird has ingested chocolate, contact your vet or animal poison helpline immediately.