Are you a parrot owner concerned about Polly putting on some extra weight? Obesity in parrots can cause health issues and place strain on vital organs. Your avian veterinarian can weigh the bird using a gram scale to determine if your pet is indeed overweight. If the vet expresses concern about your pet's weight, you may be wondering how to help your feathered friend get fit and healthy. Here are some helpful tips for the pudgy parrot needing to get in shape:
1. Limit Intake of Sunflower Seeds and Nuts
Most parrots enjoy seeds and nuts, and in moderation these foods can be a healthy addition to supplement a balanced diet. However, when seeds and nuts comprise a large portion of the diet, health issues may be a concern. Seeds and nuts can be high in fat and calories, so it's best to limit these as an occasional treat or a minimal percentage of the bird's total diet. Most importantly, never feed your parrot an all seed diet, as this is lacking in important amino acids, protein, vitamins and minerals.
2. Choose Healthy Table Foods
It's tempting to give in when your parrot begs as you're munching on a piece of pound cake or plate of mashed potatoes and gravy. However, many of these human foods, especially in larger amounts, can cause unhealthy weight gain for your bird. Rather than letting your per snack on fattening table food, offer fresh greens and vegetables, which are low in calories and provide vitamins and minerals. As a side note, never allow your parrot to consume any amount of chocolate or avocado, as these foods can be toxic to birds.
3. Offer Your Parrot an Assortment of Stimulating Toys
Exercise is extremely important for your parrot. If your pet is forced to perch in a cage all day without daily exercise, your pet is likely to become overweight. Fortunately, there are many toys and play things to help you provide exercise and prevent obesity in your pet. Here are some ideas for bird toys and accessories:
A Birdie Playground: To start with, purchase a parrot play stand or playground. This will help provide entertainment for your pet, but most importantly, it will encourage exercise which can prevent unhealthy weight gain. Playgrounds or play gyms for parrots are available as tabletop models or freestanding for the large species of parrot. You can purchase these from your pet store or online.
Be sure to obtain the appropriate size for your type of parrot. It should have a few perches in various diameters. Many feature hooks for hanging some toys on. For easy cleaning, look for a laminate base that can easily be wiped off.
A Bird Ladder: If you own a small parrot, you might be able to place the ladder inside its cage, providing there is room. Wooden bird ladders have several steps that encourage climbing. Climbing the ladder will help strengthen the leg muscles and provide exercise to help keep your feathered friend trim. Most parrot ladders are made with hooks for attaching to the side of the cage wire. You place place the ladder inside or outside of the cage.
A Swing For the Cage: Many birds love to swing, as it provides relaxation and mimics the feel of a climbing tree in the wind. As an added benefit, a parrot swing encourages exercise, as the bird attempts to flap its wings to move the swing. Some swings are made of acrylic, others are all wood. You may also find rope swings, too. Some parrot swings have chew toys attached.
4. Give Your Parrot a Dance Lesson
Some of the larger parrots love to dance, or move in rhythm to music. This is another way to get your pet moving and exercise. Try placing the bird on your arm. Now play some upbeat music, and move your arm up and down to the rhythm. Watch as your parrot flaps its wings and "dances" to the beat. It's fun and it's good exercise.
5. Allow Your Feathered Friend the Opportunity to Fly
If your parrot's wings aren't clipped, allow your pet the opportunity to fly around the room. Be sure there are no hazards, such as open windows or mirrors to crash into. In a safe and supervised area, free flight can be great exercise for your parrot, and a way to prevent weight gain.
If the above measures do not bring weight loss results, it's time to consult with an experienced avian veterinarian. An avian examination should include blood tests which may rule out the possibility of illness that may be causing your parrot to be overweight. For more information, contact a business such as Seattle Emergency Veterinary Hospital.