You should not feed pigeons chocolate as it is toxic to them and can kill them in extreme circumstances.
Pigeons will happily eat chocolate if they are given the opportunity as it is sweet, chewy and very tasty however it is not worth the risk.
Chocolate Is Toxic To Pigeons (& All Birds)
Chocolate contains caffeine which is toxic to birds.
Ingesting too much caffeine could result in the pigeon experiencing hyperactivity, tremors or seizures as well nervousness followed by a rapid heartbeat.
Chocolate also contains theobromine which is also toxic to birds.
Theobromine is a similar chemical compound to caffeine that is found in cocoa beans and also acts as a stimulant.
It also works as a vasodilator (it opens the blood vessels) and diuretic (increases the amount of salt and water expelled from the body).
It can quickly build up in your pigeon’s blood because birds don’t metabolize theobromine as quickly as humans do.
If consumed regularly it can cause damage to your pigeon’s heart, kidneys and central nervous system.
Theobromine will take longer to affect the bird than caffeine but it’s still toxic!
In extreme cases chocolate consumption can cause death.
How Much Chocolate Is Too Much?
An article in the New Zealand Veterinary Journal explained how a parrot died from eating just 19 grams of dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate contains much higher levels of theobromine (200mg per 28 grams) than milk chocolate (60mg per 28grams).
Parrots typically weight about twice as much as pigeons so they can tolerate larger amounts of theobromine.
From this we can assume that just 10 grams of dark chocolate would be enough to kill a pigeon:
|Chocolate Type||Theobromine per 28g of chocolate||Fatal Dose For A Pigeon|
As you can see chocolate is very dangerous to pigeons, sure they may enjoy it but it is not worth the risk, stick to purpose-made pigeon food instead.
Chocolate Toxosis Treatment
If your pigeon has eaten a lot of chocolate or anything that contains cocoa then you should call the vet immediately to prevent the worst from happening.
It usually takes between 2 and 4 hours for symptoms of toxicity to appear though it can take as long as 12 hours in some cases.
Common symptoms include:
More extreme symptoms can include:
- Rapid breathing
Do not wait until you see symptoms before taking your pigeon to the vet, by this time it may be too late. Take them straightaway!
Chocolate toxosis treatment involves:
- Induced vomiting to try and get any remaining chocolate out of their stomach.
- Using activated charcoal to absorb theobromine and caffeine so that it passes through their digestive system rather than going into their bloodstream.
- Rehydrating them to help flush out the toxins and prevent dehydration caused by the diuretic effect of caffeine.