Cockatiels love to share food with their owners, and they have a sweet tooth. So, if you eat chocolate as a snack, a cockatiel will be curious about what you are eating. But, can cockatiels eat chocolate?
Cockatiels cannot eat chocolate because it contains toxins that can be lethal to them, even in small amounts. However, if your cockatiel accidentally ate chocolate, take it to a vet as soon as possible to get checked up.
Chocolate is poisonous to cockatiels because it contains methylxanthines, notably theobromine, caffeine, and theophylline. Cockatiels can’t metabolize these compounds.
Methylxanthines can harm the kidneys, the brain, the liver, and the central nervous system. Therefore, chocolate poisoning in cockatiels should be considered a medical emergency.
Also, dark chocolate and milk chocolate should be strictly avoided.
White chocolate isn’t poisonous to cockatiels, but it’s unhealthy due to the unhealthy ingredients, which include sugar, butter, cocoa butter, artificial colorings, and preservatives.
Is Chocolate Poisonous To Cockatiels?
As discussed, chocolate is bad for cockatiels because it contains methylxanthines, which are harmful to all bird species, no matter how big they are.
Each of the three methylxanthines in chocolate has bad side effects, and when they all work together, they can kill your cockatiel.
The New Zealand Veterinary Journal looked into the death of an adult make kea. The parrot died after eating at least 20 grams of dark chocolate, which hurt its liver, lungs, and brain very badly.
This was a healthy adult parrot of considerable size. Sadly, 20 grams of dark chocolate were sufficient to kill the bird, revealing how hazardous chocolate is for smaller species.
Even a tiny amount of milk chocolate or dark chocolate might have detrimental health effects. If a veterinarian does not intervene immediately, the injury may be irreversible.
Also, ensure that your cockatiel doesn’t eat food that contains chocolate, such as:
- Chip cookies
- Chocolate pudding
- Chocolate-coated peanuts
So, check the list of ingredients before offering sweet food to cockatiels.
Why Is Chocolate Harmful To Your Cockatiel?
It is also important to understand why the consumption of chocolate is so dangerous for your cockatiel. Let us take a look at the core ingredients and see how they affect your cockatiel:
Methylxanthines can be present in commonly consumed drinks and foods. Examples include cocoa, coffee, cola, and tea.
In humans, they have some benefits in the following ways:
- Relaxing the airways
- Stimulating the nervous system
- Boosting metabolisms
- Stimulating kidney function
- Improving the secretion of gastric acid
Unfortunately, methylxanthines react more intensely in birds, especially in varieties like cockatiels. Methylxanthines will stimulate the organs to the point of failure, causing them to overwork.
Caffeine, the most common methylxanthine, is recognized for its stimulating properties.
Caffeine’s most significant effect is on the brain. Here, it blocks adenosine, the neurotransmitter responsible for sensations of relaxation and fatigue.
Caffeine does this by attaching itself to the neurotransmitter and stopping it from attaching to other neurotransmitters in the brain. By doing so, adenosine thinks it’s sending out signals of tiredness. However, caffeine is preventing these signals from leaving.
Moreover, caffeine boosts dopamine and norepinephrine activity. This can raise the number of adrenaline levels in the blood, so caffeine makes the body feel alert.
When ingested, caffeine is absorbed into the bloodstream, affecting the cockatiel’s body quickly.
The above study determined that it could take just 20 minutes for caffeine to reach the bloodstream, and 1 hour to reach its full potency in human studies.
The compound that is found in high amounts is theobromine.
Theobromine, formerly known as xanthosis, is an alkaloid found in chocolate and tea leaves. In smaller amounts, it can also be found in the kola nut, guarana berry, and yerba mate.
However, theobromine is mainly found in chocolate. The higher the number of cocoa solids, the more theobromine it contains. Hence, dark chocolate has a higher theobromine content than white chocolate.
This substance does not stimulate the nervous system and works to relax the airways. It can cause headaches, nausea, and weight loss when consumed in large quantities.
Similar to other methylxanthines, theophylline has significant human use.
It was a common drug used to treat asthma. It was also used to treat emphysema and chronic bronchitis, which are both lung diseases.
That is because theophylline is a bronchodilator, which relaxes the muscles in the lungs and widens the airways. However, theophylline has harmful effects on cockatiels.
Even if chocolate didn’t contain methylxanthines, it would be unhealthy for cockatiels. Sugar, sugar substitutes, cocoa butter, milk, lecithin, flavorings, and preservatives are present in all varieties of chocolate.
See Also: Can Cockatiels Eat Avocado?
Can Cockatiels Eat White Chocolate?
White chocolate, unlike dark and milk chocolate, does not contain caffeine or methylxanthines.
Sugar, milk, cocoa butter, and sometimes vanilla is used to make white chocolate. In contrast to cocoa, cocoa butter does not contain any caffeine.
Nonetheless, almost all of the ingredients in white chocolate are harmful to cockatiels.
Sugar increases the chances of a yeast infection. Sugar and cocoa butter increase a cockatiel’s chances of gaining weight and developing diabetes.
Cockatiels cannot eat chocolate, but they won’t realize that. Some cockatiels might not like the taste or smell, or they might not eat foods they have never seen. However, others will be curious.
What Are The Symptoms Of Chocolate Poisoning In Cockatiels?
Different cockatiels react differently to chocolate poisoning. However, some common symptoms are:
- Abnormal behavior, such as aggression
- Cardiac Arrhythmias (irregular heart rate)
- Hear attacks
The MSD Vet Manual says that the signs of chocolate poisoning show up 6–12 hours after eating it.
If your cockatiel displays any abnormal behavior, then you should contact your vet right away.
However, if your cockatiel is okay for 24 hours after consuming chocolate, then chances are that your cockatiel is unlikely to suffer from any serious consequences.
But it’s not recommended to wait 24 hours for any symptoms. If you think your cockatiel has eaten chocolate, call your vet right away and ask for help.
How Much Chocolate Can Kill A Cockatiel?
As was already said, cockatiels and other birds are smaller than cats and dogs, which are also kept as pets. Because of this, the toxicity of chocolate would be worse for them than for these animals.
A few chocolate nibbles could already put your cockatiel’s life in danger.
Since a few grams of chocolate can be dangerous for cats and dogs, anything over 2 grams can hurt birds.
Always keep your cockatiel safe by keeping chocolate-containing foods out of its reach.
What To Do If Your Cockatiel Ate Chocolate?
Accidents simply happen. Maybe your cockatiel was up on your counter when you weren’t looking and took a bite of chocolate. Perhaps the children may have left candy on the coffee table.
Regardless of whose fault it is, if you suspect that your cockatiel has eaten some chocolate, take them to the vet right away to make sure it is okay.
A tiny amount of chocolate is unlikely to cause death, but a more significant amount can harm your cockatiel. If you think your cockatiel has eaten at least 10 M&Ms (about 1/3 oz), call the vet to find out if you should make it throw up or take it to the clinic right away.
Cockatiels that have consumed large quantities of chocolate will need to be closely monitored and cared for by an avian vet.
What Will The Vet Do To Treat Your Cockatiel’s Chocolate Poisoning?
Treatment should be considered a medical emergency if a cockatiel has eaten chocolate. The theobromine must be taken out of the cockatiel’s body by a vet before it does damage that can’t be fixed.
A veterinarian may induce vomiting or use charcoal to bind theobromine.
This resolves the immediate concern, although the cockatiel may need supportive care. Fluids or electrolytes given through an intravenous fluid can fix dehydration, and oxygen can help keep breathing steady.
If a cockatiel consumes chocolate, it’ll likely be kept overnight for observation.
If the cockatiel shows no ill effects from the theobromine after treatment, it’ll be returned to your care. It may necessitate the use of prescription medicine to treat persistent side effects.
Cockatiels cannot eat chocolate, because it can be fatal for them, no matter how much they eat or what kind of chocolate is consumed.
Always remember that vegetables and fruits are better treats than candy. Keep an eye on your cockatiel’s diet by watching them closely while they are eating and drinking.
If you think your cockatiel ate chocolate, you should call the vet right away to make sure nothing bad happens.