Some parrots are prone to obesity and its associated diseases like Fatty Liver Disease like Amazons, Greys, Cockatoos, Cockatiels, Quakers and Love birds. However all species can get FLD. Some causes of FLD can be a high fat diet ie too much seed or human fatty foods, nutritional deficiencies, thyroid disease, toxins such as lead, hereditary factors and diabetes. Regular Avian checkups are a must for all parrots since they can hide illness very well, and sometimes it is too late before the symptoms actually show up. Maintaining regular Avian checkups can help detect any signs of illness and treat them before it is too late.
The first thing in helping to prevent FLD is a proper diet. You want to keep your bird at a healthy weight and this will require you to maintain a weight chart and know what weight your bird should be at. Your Avian Vet will be able to help you determine a healthy weight for your parrot. You should weigh your birds weekly, even if they do not have FDL, sudden weight loss or gain can be a sign of illness. You want to weigh them at the same time each morning and usually before they have eaten to get an accurate consistent reading.
An adult parrot’s diet should only be about 10 – 15% fat. Sunflower and safflower seeds are about 40% fat. A parrot’s metabolic rate is so high that they will try to eat the foods that give them the most energy. Since fats are higher in calories per gram, birds will prefer to eat high-fat foods that give a higher energy return for the amount eaten, although it is not good for them. This is why most parrots will eat seeds first, due to the high fat content. Moderation is key to all high fatty treats and seeds need to be a limited part of their diet. Here is a list that shows the percentages of each food group that should be consumed by your parrots on a daily basis. Did you know that Parrots need more than just seeds? I also highly recommend Chop Mix step by step video by Patricia Sund/
It is important to change to an ORGANIC diet that is rich in fiber, low in fat and with reduced protein content . The liver should not be burdened with the pesticides that are typically found on conventionally grown produce. The staple diet should consist mainly of fruits and vegetables with a good quality dry food mix (that doesn’t contain any chemicals, artificial flavors or colors). Foods to focus on are those that will help the liver detoxify. You want to include foods rich in Vitamin B2, B5, B6, B12. Foods rich in Vit B is essential for fat metabolism. It helps prevent the deposition of fats in the liver, guarding against fatty liver damage. Some foods rich in Vit B are walnuts, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, citrus peel, egg yolks, red peppers, dark green leafy vegetables, and whole unprocessed grains. Fiber is really important for cleansing the intestines of toxins. Encouraging the consumption of fresh fruits and unlimited amounts of fresh vegetables adds fiber and nutrients. Sprouted seeds are an excellent option since they are lower in fat, and they are usually more easily accepted by “seed addicts” than fresh fruits and vegetables. It is also important to note that you should not feed peanuts or food items that could contain mycotoxins, which could further damage the liver.
You also want to provide plenty of fresh water and this should be changed twice daily minimum. It is important to monitor and know that your parrot is drinking plenty of water daily.
Exercise and Activity is key in helping to make sure that your parrot is burning off the calories that they consume. Parrots can become overweight when they consume more calories than they expend, so it’s important to keep them active to expend more energy. Also, some Parrots overeat out of boredom and become obese. Providing fun activities on a daily basis can keep your bird entertained and healthy. You need to have regular play schedules daily and you should also provide lots of things for them to do if you are away from home. Parrots need and thrive off of mental and physical stimulation. As their caregivers it is our responsibility and duty to make sure we are providing this for them.
Proper sleep is so important for parrots, it not only helps them to maintain good health but also promotes healing. They need an average of 12 hours nightly of uninterrupted, quiet dark rest. If they are ill, then they need even extra hours of sleep and should be given 13 to 14 hours of rest nightly.
There are some supplements that have been instrumental in lowering FLD. It is suspected that there is a correlation between vitamin deficiency and the development of fatty liver disease; and nutritional support is essential for the treatment. However you should not add anything without discussing it with your AV first.
–Choline, biotin and methionine. Biotin and choline (B vitamins). Vit B helps prevent the deposition of fats in the liver, guarding against fatty liver damage. –Methionine Is an amino acid that is essential in transporting fats from cells. –Milk thistleIs very good support for a damaged liver –Aloe Detox An organic compound base of Aloe Vera that has herbs added to it. It cleanses both the kidneys and liver of toxins, both very weak areas in parrots.
Some signs of FLD are a general sudden loss of appetite, they can become lethargic, and depressed. Many are overweight and the liver is enlarged due to the additional storage of fat. This results in a distended abdomen and difficulty breathing. They may have diarrhea and abnormal droppings. They may have poor feather quality. If the liver function is greatly decreased, birds may develop central nervous system signs such as seizures, loss of balance, and muscle tremors. Some birds may have overgrown, soft beaks. Some birds with fatty liver disease may develop few signs before they die suddenly.
All of the information I have posted is readily available by many sources. My wish is that all those who care for parrots, know and understand the effects of Fatty Liver Disease and have the knowledge to help prevent this devastating and fatal disease. Always check with your Avian Vet before offering anything new into your parrots diet.