Atherosclerosis in Birds (Heart Disease)

Atherosclerosis , or hardening of the arteries, is a common disease in captive parrots. The disease is found in all common parrot species, but especially in African Grey parrots and Amazons. Factors that have been linked to the development of atherosclerosis in birds include long-term diets high in fat or cholesterol and lack of exercise. The most common sign is sudden death, but clinical symptoms that can be found include dyspnea, lethargy and nervous signs, such as paresis and collapses. Because the clinical signs are seldomly seen, it is difficult to diagnose atherosclerosis and therefore it is mostly an unexpected finding at necropsy. Dietary PUFAs, especially omega-3 fatty acids, play an important role in the prevention of atherosclerosis by inhibiting inflammation within the blood vessels, reducing plaque formation, and by other means that protect the vessels.

Fatty Liver Disease can also be linked to Atherosclerosis.

Birds in the wild consume very little fat and fly miles everyday to forage for their food. They were not created to sit dormant and consume mass quantities of fatty foods. As their caregivers it is our responsibility to always be seeking ways to care for them properly.

Here are some very good articles that I used in my research for this disease. It is obvious that not a great deal of research has been done on this subject, however it is vital that those of us who care for parrots know and understand the importance of maintaining a low fat diet and providing rigorous daily exercise for our parrots health.

A Retrospective Study of Atherosclerosis in Birds
Atherosclerosis by
Severe Atherosclerosis in African Grey Parrot
Balanced Omega Fatty Acids Why Do Birds Need Them by Lafeber Cares


1 thought on “Atherosclerosis in Birds (Heart Disease)

  1. We know from the experience of some pet owners who feed their birds eggs that those birds can die very young of clogged arteries, as young as 3 years of age, (confirmed by necropsy). Our excellent avian veterinarian does not recommend feeding parrots eggs. So we do not feed eggs.

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