Does Your Bird Need To Diet?


Obesity is cited by many vets as the No. 1 health issue among pet birds today. Pet birds, like humans, grow overweight when they eat too many calories and do not receive enough physical exercise. This extra weight exerts strain on the bones, joints, and internal organ systems of the bird. Diabetes, pancreatic issues, liver illness, thyroid difficulties, atherosclerosis, and heart disease are all more common in obese birds.

If you have a chubby parrot, take efforts to correct the condition. This usually entails placing the bird on a designed diet (which is less fatty than a standard seed diet), severely limiting high-calorie treats like honey seed sticks and human sweets and snack foods, and offering more chances for exercise to your bird.

Of course, you may have no notion if your bird has a substantial body behind all of its feathers. You can’t simply look in a medical book and figure out how much your bird “should” weigh. “Some birds are formed differently than others of the same species — others are taller and some are shorter, some are more muscular or stocky, and some have little bones while others have massive bones,” Julie Burge, DVM, a veterinarian with a private practice in Missouri, said. As a consequence, a bird with a tiny bone structure will be lighter than a bird of the same species with a larger bone structure or higher muscle mass.

However, you may use your own senses to judge whether or not your bird is overweight. Veterinarians recommend keeping an eye out for the following symptoms:

  • A “spare tire” or fat rolls over the bird’s midsection, hip, or around the neck and crop. The keel bone (the bone that runs down the middle of the bird’s chest) will be hidden behind fat, giving the appearance of “cleavage” on the beast region.
  • Visible fat under the skin of the bird. Wetting the bird’s feathers and skin with rubbing alcohol allows you to see what’s underneath the skin. The skin of healthy-weight birds is thin and translucent, allowing you to view the blood arteries, muscle outlines, and bones underneath. An obese bird has thick yellow-colored fat layers under the skin, similar to broiler chickens sold in supermarkets, and nothing can be seen behind the fat.
  • Excessive panting or labored breathing, particularly after vigorous activity
  • Heat intolerance: the bird may spread its wings and breathe with its beak wide open. It may look worried or disturbed, or it may have a blank expression.
  • The bird may stoop on the perch with its legs spread and look unable of sitting properly with its legs close together.

If you feel that your bird is overweight, take it to an avian veterinarian as soon as possible. Your veterinarian will assist you in tailoring a diet and activity routine that is appropriate for your specific bird – and safely bringing your bird down to a healthy weight.

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