It rarely fails that most folks who own animals give in to the temptation to share some of their food with their furry friends from time to time.
A little bite of bread or maybe some fresh-cut veggies aren’t a problem, of course, but goats can’t have everything that we eat no matter how good it is, and that includes our goats.
How about chocolate? Is it chocolate safe for goats to eat?
No, chocolate is not safe for goats. Chocolate is in fact extremely toxic to them because it contains caffeine and theobromine. Both compounds cause serious health issues in goats, including seizures and potentially death.
Chocolate is bad, bad news for many mammals, and no matter how much you love chocolate, it isn’t something that you should be sharing with your goats if you care about them.
Giving in to the temptation might make your goats extremely sick, or potentially even kill them. I’ll tell you more about why chocolate is such a bad idea for goats below…
Chocolate and Cocoa Contain Dangerous Toxins for Goats
The bottom line concerning chocolate is that it contains cocoa, and cocoa contains two compounds which are toxic to goats: theobromine and caffeine.
Both of these things are part of what makes chocolate so enjoyable and indeed addicting for people because they are both stimulants.
However, both cause very serious health issues and goats, and it doesn’t take a whole lot for the negative consequences to manifest.
For starters, both can lead to goats suffering from heart arrhythmia, trembling and eventually seizures. Both also cause a significant increase in urination which can rapidly dehydrate goats.
These effects together, and some other consequences, can lead to a vicious spiral that can be difficult to save goats from. But of these two compounds, it is the theobromine that is so dangerous for your goats.
Theobromine is Especially Toxic for Goats
Theobromine is an alkaloid substance found in the cacao plant, and is part of what gives cocoa its special properties.
Surprisingly, humans are pretty much the only mammals that can eat this stuff safely without negative consequences. And other animals, including goats, it ranges from hazardous to lethal in terms of its toxicity.
It is the theobromine that leads to the most severe consequences outlined above, including seizures and death but it can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and other serious problems in far smaller doses.
And the real hazard associated with theobromine is that it is typically found in tasty foods, like chocolate, and that means many animals will happily eat it until they are full or it is all gone, and that will usually lead to catastrophic poisoning.
Something else to know is that higher concentrations of theobromine are found in dark chocolate, because it contains more cocoa.
That means that the darker the chocolate or the richer the cocoa, the more poisonous it is for goats. Even a few bites of extremely dark chocolate could be enough to severely sicken or even kill a smaller goat!
How Much Chocolate Does it Take to Poison a Goat?
It depends on the concentration of theobromine and the size of the goat. Generally, larger, heavier goats must eat more chocolate to encounter serious side effects, although it rarely takes a lot.
Smaller goats, or if they manage to get very dark chocolate, as little as a couple of bites might have life-changing consequences.
Generally speaking, as little as an ounce of extra dark chocolate can be dangerous for goats.
It might take several ounces or even as much as a pound of low-cocoa milk chocolate to have the same effect, although the sugar and other ingredients will still have serious negative consequences all on their own. We’ll talk about that later.
All you need to know is that goats should never, ever have any amount of chocolate, any kind of chocolate, ever!
What Should You Look For it You Suspect Poisoning from Chocolate?
If you suspect your goats have somehow been fed any quantity of chocolate, keep an eye out for them to act restless, agitated, and be urinating often.
If you care to give your goat an exam, you might notice a significantly increased heart rate, trembling, substantial tremors or, in cases of severe poisoning, seizures.
Coma and death usually follow the seizures.
Even the “Safest” Chocolate is Very Bad for Goats
To make sure all the bases are covered, don’t go feeding your goats white chocolate or milk chocolate with the lowest possible amount of cocoa in it thinking it is safe: it isn’t.
Even under ideal conditions, cocoa still contains way too many calories and way too much sugar to be okay for goats in any way.
Giving your goats any kind of chocolate, assuming the field bromine and caffeine doesn’t poison them, is still going to cause bloat and severe diarrhea at the minimum.
Chocolate is Incredibly Dangerous for Baby Goats
Remember when I mentioned that the likelihood of theobromine poisoning from chocolate is directly proportional to the darkness of the chocolate and the weight of the goat?
Right, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that chocolate is seriously bad news for baby goats.
Just a few nibbles of very dark chocolate can be enough to make a baby goat definitely ill, or even kill them outright.
Further worsening matters is the fact that adolescent goats cannot cope with toxins as well as adult goats can, a deadly double-whammy when it comes to chocolate.
What Should You Do if Your Goats Get into Chocolate?
Poisoning from chocolate, be it from theobromine or caffeine, is treatable, but you must act quickly and get your goat to veterinary care immediately.
Assuming your goats didn’t break into some huge quantity of chocolate, the first thing you should do is ensure that all of the chocolate is removed completely so they don’t eat anymore and then call your vet straight away.
Tell them what happened, and follow their advice.
The next step is to get them to the vet straight away, or get a vet to come to you. An antidote will need to be administered, and an IV might be needed to help flush toxins from the goat’s body.
Tim is a farm boy with vast experience on homesteads, and with survival and prepping. He lives a self-reliant lifestyle along with his aging mother in a quiet and very conservative little town in Ohio. He teaches folks about security, prepping and self-sufficiency not just through his witty writing, but also in person.