I don’t think I am shedding light on the fact that birds typically can’t eat any sort of processed people food…
This includes our geese, of course; they simply have too delicate a constitution to endure tons of sugar, salt, oils, artificial ingredients and so forth.
But when you think about it, many of the sweet treats we eat start out with a natural source. Chocolate, for instance, comes from cocoa beans, and cocoa beans grow on trees.
Since geese can and do eat predominantly plant matter, and could theoretically eat cocoa beans in the wild, does that mean geese can eat chocolate safely?
No, chocolate isn’t safe for geese in any way or any amount. Chocolate contains theobromine, a compound that is extremely toxic for all birds, including geese. Never give chocolate to your flock!
Chocolate is bad, bad news for geese, no debate and no two ways about it.
I know that some of us still feel a pang of selfishness when we don’t share our favorite sweet treats with our feathered friends, but you must believe me when I tell you: you’ll be doing them a lot more harm than good if you give them chocolate.
Even so, there’s a lot more you’ll want to know on this subject, so keep reading…
Is Chocolate a Healthy Food for Geese?
No, no it isn’t. In fact, it is just the opposite. Even if chocolate does have a certain amount of nutrients that could, theoretically, benefit your geese, these are completely and totally outweighed by the immense danger it poses if they eat it.
Eating Chocolate Will Hurt Geese
Let’s cut to the chase: chocolate is very dangerous for geese and all birds. That’s because chocolate has theobromine, a compound that is present in cocoa.
This compound is indeed a naturally produced toxin that the plant relies on to protect itself from creatures that might eat it. Creatures like birds, for instance!
To be totally clear, this isn’t the same kind of danger posed by lots of sugar or salt, though chocolate often has both, or by any crazy man-made ingredients that just aren’t safe for bird biology. Those are problems, too, posed by chocolate that we will talk about later.
To be clear theobromine is a naturally occurring toxin that is highly dangerous to geese. Accordingly, because cocoa is always found in chocolate and chocolate products there is no kind of chocolate that isn’t harmful to your birds.
What’s worse is that the concentration of theobromine can vary significantly in cocoa depending on the type and on the product itself.
A little nibble of chocolate or cocoa of one brand might not be enough to cause your geese serious distress. Another one might kill them nearly instantly once they begin to digest it, though.
Generally speaking, the darker the cocoa the higher the concentration of theobromine, and so dark chocolate varieties are especially dangerous, though even the lightest milk chocolate contains the stuff.
What Does Theobromine Do to Geese?
Still undeterred? Wondering exactly what the theobromine in chocolate will do to your geese? I will tell you…
The symptoms of theobromine poisoning in birds range from mild to severe in direct proportion to the dose. For now, keep in mind what I said above about the darkness of the chocolate and the variability of different brands, generally.
A small dose will result in significant digestive tract upset and pretty severe diarrhea, usually accompanied by a total loss of appetite.
But as the dosage increases, or if an individual goose is particularly sensitive, they will begin to suffer from shaking, tremors, inability to stand, and eventually full-body seizures and complete loss of body control.
Somewhere along the line, the poor animal will start to suffer from an erratic heartbeat, typically rapid and weakening. Eventually, death occurs from heart failure in affected animals.
This is a really ugly fate for any poor bird, and generally speaking, the only way they’re going to get into chocolate is if you feed it to them. So don’t do it!
Is Milk Chocolate Okay for Geese?
No! Milk chocolate, though it usually has lesser amounts of the toxic compound compared to dark chocolate, is still too dangerous for geese to eat.
Is Dark Chocolate Okay for Geese?
No! Dark chocolate is especially dangerous for geese because it is guaranteed to contain even more theobromine than typical milk chocolate. Depending on the quantity, even a small nibble might be enough to severely harm or kill a goose.
Is White Chocolate Okay for Geese?
No. Nice try, but no. White chocolate isn’t technically chocolate at all if it doesn’t contain cocoa, but that will make much difference considering how much sugar, salt, and other bad ingredients it contains. Never give this stuff to your geese either.
Can Geese Ever Have a Little Chocolate?
No! There is no amount of chocolate that is okay for geese or other birds.
I know some folks like to play stupid games with their animals when it comes to feeding them people food. They’re always the very first ones to run to a forum or onto social media and say “Well, dadgum I’ve always fed my animals ‘X’ and they never had no problems of no kind!”
Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. And I don’t care to figure out if they are liars or not: But what I do know is that I myself have seen dozens of examples of geese and other animals made gravely sick or even killed by ingesting foods that are known to be toxic to their biology.
Chocolate is one such food for geese and you should never, ever give them any! The end!
Is Chocolate Bad for Goslings, Too?
Yes, chocolate is very, very bad for baby geese. In fact, it’s all but guaranteed to gravely sicken or outright kill a poor gosling.
Their systems are not as well developed as an adult goose, their body mass is drastically lower and they are frail, generally. This means that deliberately feeding them a known poison is certainly going to have disastrous results.
Only a cruel, vicious person would deliberately give a gosling chocolate.
What Do You Need to Do if Your Geese Eat Chocolate?
If, for whatever reason, your geese have eaten chocolate or you suspect that they have eaten chocolate you need to stay calm, pay attention and then (likely) act.
If you are able, your best bet is to contact your vet and get your birds to them right away if they don’t make house calls.
However, if you suspect that the geese only got a small amount of chocolate you might decide to observe them and see what happens.
A tiny piece of milk chocolate probably won’t cause serious injury, but don’t be surprised if your geese get diarrhea and start acting a little off.
But if you notice any of the more serious symptoms (weakness, trembling, inability to stand, etc.) or have a reason to believe that they got into a large quantity of chocolate or any amount of very dark chocolate, get them to medical care straight away. That’s the only chance they will have for survival.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.
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