Avoid Obesity in Pet Birds

May 8, 2008 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

People who keep birds as pets, generally do so because they enjoy their company and entertaining antics. Yet many of these bird lovers inadvertently allow their pet birds to become overweight, even to the point of obesity, exposing them to a host of possible health problems. Pet birds are very often confined to a cage and have their wings clipped to prevent flight and possible injury, resulting in a lack of exercise. Add to this the temptation to offer tasty tidbits to your feathered friend, and it is easy to see why pet birds can have the tendency to gain excess weight.

Of course prevention is better than cure, but if your bird is already a little on the chubby side don’t despair, with some patience and discipline, this situation can be corrected. There is no clear cut definition for obesity in birds, but dogs and cats are considered to be obese if they are 15% above their ideal weight, so this is can be used as a guideline. In a nutshell, obesity results from a bird taking in more calories than it can burn off. Lack of daily exercise is therefore a major contributing factor to obesity. Also, most bird owners incorrectly feed their birds a diet which consists mostly, or completely, of seeds. Birds love seeds because they are high in fat and taste good, however, this type of diet is not only deficient in many essential vitamins and minerals, but is the leading cause of obesity in birds.

Obese pets – cats, dogs, birds – have an increased risk of a number of life-threatening diseases, including heart disease, arthritis and cancer. Additionally, obese birds run the very real risk of developing hepatic lipidosis, more commonly known as “fatty liver disease”, making them very susceptible to stress and repeated infections. Health problems lead to an increased number of visits to the veterinarian, which is a stressful event for any animal, but for an unhealthy obese bird this type of stress may prove to be too much to bear, and could even result in death.

To maintain optimum health, pet birds should have a daily diet consisting of pellets, fresh fruit and fresh vegetables, with a limited quantity of seed. Any switch in diet must be done very gradually or your bird could become stressed and refuse to eat. Remember that it took a period of time for your bird to gain its excess weight and it will take possibly even a longer period of time to lose that weight. Rest assured though that your bird’s eating habits can be changed, and the resultant health benefits, along with the extended lifespan of your beloved pet, will make the effort well worth while.

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