I love chocolate in every form and however it’s presented, in drinks, in bars, in cookies, pastries, and chips. I just love it, and it is no surprise, Chocolate is as much delight to the nostrils as it is to the palette and I am not just talking human palette, birds too. In fact the nice aroma that chocolate carries with it is so alluring to the senses that only a few can resist it. It not strange a bird takes a morsel of it or if unsuspecting persons try to give a treat containing chocolate to a bird. Even though chocolate is safe for humans, it is very toxic for birds, in other words, chocolate is so toxic to birds even in small quantity could be lethal or even fatal.
Chocolate could even be toxic to bigger animals like cats and dogs, this gives a glimpse to what it could give do to a smaller creature like a bird. A bird should never be given any food material that contains cocoa. Now the main culprit for this deathliness is the cocoa, this means that white chocolate is safer because it doesn’t contain the dark cocoa, instead it contains cocoa butter, which, though not entirely without the cocoa content, is less toxic. However the bird has to deal with the milk and high sugar content, which makes up for the absence of cocoa. Many manufacturers add in a lot of sugar and milk giving white chocolate that unique smooth sweet taste, all of which is bad for your bird.
Why Is Chocolate So Toxic to Parrots?
Chocolate contains both theobromine and caffeine, so it directly hits the central nervous system the bird, it then goes ahead to cause tremors, hyper reactions, Increased heart work rate and even seizures. It can cause vomiting and diarrhea. With all of that baggage, you would have given your bird a gift of death by giving it chocolate, it doesn’t matter how small the chocolate product is, it contains these toxins and therefore poisonous to birds.
Birds: specific effects of consuming chocolate.
Breathing difficulties which may be as a result of increased heart rate
Pulling out feathers, especially around the face and head.
Appetite loss/Refusal to eat for several days.
Increased thirst (polydipsia).
Frequent urination (polyuria).
Seizures, muscle tremors or shakes, and loss of balance.
Bird can’t metabolize this theobromine, and it will ultimately build up in the bird’s blood and cause damage to their heart, kidneys, and central nervous system.
A tiny amount of chocolate, even less than 0.07 oz (2 gm) is sufficient to cause the death of a bird. However chocolate with milk may have its toxicity level reduced because of the cushioning effect of the milk. Since the cocoa content is the cause, when it is of reduced content, the level of toxicity automatically reduces. But my advice is to keep it away birds completely because the risks are just too much and the results may be disastrous.
What Can You Do To Prevent Chocolate Toxicity?
With chocolate content all over the house, the shelf, the fridge, there is a clear struggle in keeping it away from easy reach. Even Children, that kindly neighbor are all potential sources of accidental administration of chocolate to your bird. A Good Samaritan can feed a bird with cocoa, or the bird may stumble into one, a truly great find, which unbeknownst to them is poisonous and might as well that could end its very existence.
Consequently, to protect your birds, you must first acknowledge that you might have a bird poison strewn around your house in unsuspecting corners. That acknowledgement will help you take storage of your chocolate and chocolate products serious by carefully storing it away from accidental ingestion.
So, all chocolate cookies, bars, cakes brownies or even the actual powder should be kept safely and away from a potential reach of these birds. There are ways to keep your birds safe from chocolate. Firstly it must be kept in the cupboards and shelves with locks, also you must ensure that you dispose off the chocolate sweets wrappers.
A nice bird training would be in the right direction, you should be able train your bird to prevent it from picking up food off the floor or any such other surfaces, also you know kids and their very benevolent heart, they just love to socialize with animals including birds, so they will likely attempt to feed a bird with chocolate. Therefore, it is pertinent that you also teach the children, yours or your neighbor’s to understand that they must not feed the birds with any of their goodies, and treats. You should also teach them to and put away their treats, treat wraps in a bird safe manner and how to keep the shelves closed as well.
How Will A Veterinarian Treat Chocolate Toxicity?
Well for starters, if your bird should ingest cocoa or cocoa product, the best thing to do is to take it a vegetarian, because as all toxins, the quicker you are in dealing with it, the better chances of survival. Time is always of the essence and where there is a quick response by a professional, there are chances that the bird will pull through.
The Veterinarian would most likely use activated charcoal, which will form a coating on the digestive walls, thereby stopping the body from absorbing theobromine. This however would only work if caught on time. Where the bird’s body has already started absorbing the toxin, the activated charcoal will reduce the absorption and circulation into the body system.
Where the body has already absorbed the toxin, then the veterinarian can induce bowel movement, to help the body push the toxin out. This method will also involve control measure to ensure that the bird doesn’t dehydrate or go in shock.
Chocolate is a very tasty gift of nature and quite frankly very beneficial to humans but the same cannot be said for birds because for birds, chocolate is toxic and could even be lethal. Where you feel that you must feed your bird with the chocolate, you could feed it with white chocolate without any form of sweetening and if you must add milk , use plant based milk. This will ease up the effect of any of the remaining toxins that might be found in the white chocolate. Store your chocolate and chocolate products safely. Where you suspect that your bird has ingested chocolate, the faster you take care of removing it from the bird’s systems, the better the chances of survival.