Why Is Chocolate So Toxic To Parrots?

Chocolate is certainly NOT SAFE for parrots. No type of chocolate should ever be given to parrots.

Keep all chocolate and any foods containing chocolate out of reach of birds.

Most people are aware that chocolate is highly toxic and potentially deadly to dogs and cats. The same applies, even more so, to birds.

Birds are small, lightweight animals and even a tiny amount of chocolate can have devastating effects.

A bird should never be able to access chocolate. Keep well out of reach at all times.

If a bird takes in even a tiny amount of chocolate, the digestive system is immediately affected, leading to dangerous vomiting and diarrhea.

This requires immediate veterinary attention. After just a few hours, the chocolate toxicity then affects the central nervous system of the bird. The result is seizures and death.

Needless to say, it is worth repeating: chocolate and any foods containing chocolate or cocoa are highly toxic to birds.

Why is chocolate toxic to parrots?

The main toxicity culprit in chocolate is the alkaloid theobromine. Birds, along with many other animals besides humans, can’t metabolize theobromine properly.

Theobromine is not only found in chocolate, but also in many tea and soft/soda drinks that contain cocoa (these drinks should also never be given to birds anyway).

Chocolate also contains caffeine, another deadly toxin to birds.

One example of a fatal chocolate incident involving a parrot is detailed in the paper from the New Zealand Veterinary Journal, “Death by chocolate: A fatal problem for an inquisitive wild parrot”, which refers to an accidental death of a wild Kea parrot in New Zealand who had accessed chocolate. These birds are known to hang around tourists and their picnics, as well as accessing rubbish. Sadly this provided an alarming example of just how deadly a small amount of chocolate can be for a parrot (or any bird).

A necropsy on the Kea found that it had died from toxicity poisoning due to ingestion of chocolate.

The crop contained 20 g of what appeared to be dark chocolate; a conservative estimate of the dose of methylxanthines ingested by the bird was 250 mg/kg theobromine, 20 mg/kg caffeine and 3 mg/kg theophylline.

Another published case of chocolate toxicosis was reported by Cole and Murray in 2005 of an African Grey parrot who had died within 24 hours of eating a chocolate donut, even after receiving veterinary treatment. The body showed “hepatic, pulmonary and renal congestion” as the cause of death. Needless to say, this would have been a painful, highly distressing death for this poor bird.

Never give chocolate, chocolate products, or caffeine to a bird.

Keep all chocolate out of reach of parrots.

If your parrot has eaten any chocolate or you suspect he or she may have – get immediate avian vetarinary attention.

Chocolate is TOXIC and deadly to parrots
Chocolate is TOXIC and deadly to parrots

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