Health Starts with Nutrition

A healthy companion requires a healthy foods list. And when you read the list of foods, you may want to eat like a parrot, too!

Health Starts with Nutrition

If pizza is your favorite food and it was served to you three times a day for a month, how long do you think it would be your favorite food? The same holds true for your bird. It is our job to help our birds choose to eat healthy by providing them with an interesting and appetizing diet. This includes a variety of shapes, colors, textures and sizes of food. This also provides for your bird’s mental health as well, by preventing boredom and apathy toward their food. A balanced diet helps to prevent disease and ill health just as it does for us humans. It is important that you present a varied diet but it is also important that you pay attention to what your bird is eating from that diet. Feeding your bird twice a day can help it to choose healthy foods as well. Providing fresh foods in the morning and pellet in evening is one option. If your bird were in the wild it would eat in the morning and the evening prior to roosting for the night. Let’s not forget water for it is also part of your bird’s diet. Water should be changed at least twice a day. If your bird dunks its food in its water then it needs to be changed more frequently to prevent bacterial growth.

Malnourishment is said to be one of the most common illnesses in birds per Dr. Joel Murphy DVM. Some signs of malnourishment can be dull and faded feathers. Frayed or broken feathers appearing bilaterally can be another sign, not to be confused with feathers that have been broken on one side or feathers that your bird plucks or barbers. Your bird’s feet may look like full grained leather as well. Your vet’s assessment of your bird’s nutritional status should be the deciding factor and you should not try to make this determination on your own. Your vet can also guide you in improving your bird’s nutritional status and can check for other problems that poor diet causes.

Toxic foods include alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, avocados, salt, fatty foods, mushrooms, onions and garlic. Yellow and orange vegetables are a good source of Vitamin A. Calcium is found in carrots, broccoli, leafy greens and almonds as well as other vegetables. Grains such as low fat granola, wild rice, quinoa, oat bran or whole grain toast supply your bird with its whole grain needs. Protein sources include yellow or orange vegetables, pumpkin, squash, peppers, kale or spinach.  Carbs can be obtained from fruits, pasta, grains, corn, potatoes and nuts, but should only constitute 10% of your bird’s diet. Other vegetables that are safe and healthy include but are not limited to peas, cauliflower, green beans, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, sweet potatoes and beets. Fruits you may include in your bird’s diet include peaches(without pit), apples(no seeds), papaya, berries and many others but should be a small part of your birds diet. Eggs with the shell are an excellent source of protein along with some of the vegetables already mentioned.

Seed has long been a controversy in the bird world. Seed diets can lead to obesity, liver disease and a host of other health issues. They can also be a source of aflatoxins just as peanuts can be.  They are low in Vitamin A, D and Calcium as well. A healthy way to put seed in your bird’s diet is to sprout them. Pumpkin seed and flax in moderation can be healthy for your bird as well.

As you can see birds diets are very complex and require dedication from their humans to provide what they need.

Parrot Outreach Society

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