Home » How Much Chocolate Will Kill My Parrot? (Theobromine Toxicity)
how much chocolate is toxic to parrots?

How Much Chocolate Will Kill My Parrot? (Theobromine Toxicity)

Last Updated on January 28, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

Chocolate is on the list of banned human foods for parrots, primarily due to the caffeine and theobromine (an alkaloid) found in cocoa. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it’ll contain.

Theobromine is found in other foods and drinks, including coffee, cocoa, tea, and cola.

Methylxanthines, like theobromine, are rapidly absorbed from the oral cavity and intestinal tract. This impacts the central nervous system and renal function (kidneys).

The signs of chocolate toxicity in parrots include vomiting and diarrhea, a racing heart rate, hyperactivity and restlessness, muscular weakness and tremors, seizures, and loss of consciousness.

If a parrot consumes chocolate, even white chocolate, it can cause sickness or be life-threatening.

Parrots Can’t Eat Chocolate

Chocolate is a toxin to most animals, including dogs and cats. Although the effects on parrots haven’t been scientifically studied, we should assume that a small bird will be significantly impacted.

Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which are highly toxic to animals. Theobromine is the leading risk, which is more elevated in dark chocolate than in milk chocolate.

According to the Encyclopedia of Analytical Science, theobromine is from a class of alkaloids (methylated xanthines) that occurs naturally in cocoa beans. This is why it’s found in chocolate.

The taste of theobromine is bitter, which explains why there’s more of it in dark chocolate.

Theobromine has the same side effects as chocolate if too much is consumed, including headaches, muscular tremors, and irregular temperature moderation.

Humans quickly pass theobromine through the body, while animals process alkaline slowly.

how much theobromine in chocolate?

Toxic Amount of Chocolate

All chocolate is harmful to parrots. The more theobromine is ingested, the more danger it poses. Dark chocolate is the most significant health hazard.

100 g of chocolate is enough to kill a large parrot, with smaller birds succumbing sooner.

This table outlines how much theobromine is in 1 ounce (about 1 square) of chocolate:

Chocolate chips138 mg
Dark chocolate (45-59% cocoa)140 mg
Dark chocolate (60-69% cocoa)179 mg
Dark chocolate (70-85% cocoa)228 mg
Milk chocolate44 mg
Pure cocoa powder142 mg
Unsweetened baking chocolate (90% cocoa or higher)376 mg
White chocolate0.25 mg

No chocolate is safe for parrots, not even white chocolate.

Consequences of Parrots Eating Chocolate

According to the New Zealand Veterinary Journal, chocolate consumption can kill parrots. However, the toxin doesn’t immediately kill parrots because it must travel through the body.

The impact of the toxicity depends on how much chocolate the parrot ate, the type of chocolate, and the bird’s size, weight, age, and health.

Here are the main warning signs of toxicity:

If a parrot displays these symptoms, it suggests that theobromine has adversely affected the internal organs and nervous system. Don’t wait for the digestive tract to process the chocolate.

Here are the chocolate-based foodstuffs a parrot may encounter:

Candy Bars

A small piece of white chocolate may have a mild impact, but cooking chocolate can kill a parrot in under 2 hours. A parrot that eats an entire candy bar likely may not survive without immediate intervention.

Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Brownies, And Chocolate Muffins

A chocolate cake contains cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and chocolate icing.

Cakes also contain numerous other ingredients that damage parrots’ health. These include sugar, salt (sodium), fat, artificial colorings, and preservatives.

Chocolate Biscuits or Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chips contain enough theobromine to trigger severe illness. This means that cookies and biscuits, especially if coated with an additional layer of chocolate, can cause theobromine toxicity.

Chocolate Cereal

Some cereals are safe for parrots, but chocolate-based cereals aren’t on the list. If you want to give your pet bird cereal as a snack, avoid Oreo Os or Cocoa Krispies.

These cereals don’t contain as much theobromine as a pure chocolate product.

what happens if parrots eat chocolate?

Chocolate Ice Cream And Chocolate Milk

Milk and ice cream contain lactose. Parrots can’t process it because they lack an enzyme called lactase. They aren’t entirely lactose intolerant, but consuming dairy causes digestive distress.

Chocolate-flavored dairy products will also contain some theobromine.

Avoid letting a parrot drink hot chocolate. In addition to the usual risks of theobromine and lactose, a parrot may burn itself when sipping a hot beverage.

Chocolate Toxicity Treatment

A vet will induce vomiting or bind the theobromine with charcoal. This resolves the immediate concern, although the parrot may need ongoing supportive care.

Intravenous fluids or electrolytes will resolve dehydration, while oxygen will stabilize breathing issues. If a parrot consumes chocolate, it’ll be kept at the surgery overnight for observation.

If it shows no ill effects of the theobromine post-treatment, it’ll be returned to your care. However, it may require prescription medication to control the ongoing side effects.

Chocolate can be fatal to parrots, no matter how much they eat and what kind is consumed. Theobromine is a stimulant, vasodilator, and diuretic that must be kept away from pet birds.