Bird Vitamins: 5 Essential Nutrients Your Parrot Needs
That a healthy diet is a healthy life is a well-known though little observed fact in the care of pets. While many people love their pets and would do anything to ensure that these birds are well, most of us, unfortunately, do not know how to go about it. For example, first time parrot owners are likely to feed their parrots a diet consisting of mostly seeds and nuts. Unfortunately they do not know that this is not only unhealthy but the least optimal diet possible.
As you will come to understand, bird metabolism and body function is quite complex and must be kept at a balance. This is why the availability of great organic pellets such as Harrison’s Bird Food are an important dietary ally for any parrot parent. As a matter of fact, malnutrition is far more common than starvation. Parrots are being fed and in some cases overfed but they are not being fed the right kind of food.
They are getting enough energy but not the right quantities of the nutrients that they need to live healthy. Before we can get into what these nutrients are, let us look at the side-effects caused by malnutrition.
Disease and health complications – parrots rely on proper nutrition to stay healthy. The nutrients present in a healthy diet enable their bodies to function at an optimal level able to fight off disease. Upper respiratory infections and secondary infections are much rarer in a parrot that gets all the right nutrients. Furthermore, a strong immune system means that even when the parrot does get sick, he/she is much better equipped for fighting off the disease and making a strong recovery.
Obesity – birds can get obese too. A common dietary mistake, feeding birds a diet consisting of seeds, can cause this. This is because seeds contain high quantities of fat which the birds really enjoy over all other kinds of food. Furthermore, once when you factor in that the parrot is not getting all the nutrients necessary to ensure optimal metabolism it is easy to see why obesity becomes possible.
Bone structure and strength – bird bones are quite scientifically fascinating. They are very light making the bird lighter and making flight possible. However, they are also quite strong in their own right, this is possible because of their special hollow structure. Bird bone structure uses calcium in a very efficient way to ensure that the bones are strong and healthy while maintaining their light weight. Birds therefore need a constant intake of calcium to keep those bones functioning as they should. Failure to get this calcium can lead to weak bones and eventually death. Remember, the skeleton is important to ensuring that parrots are not killed by the weight of their own bodies.
Poor reproduction – mating is an important part of any animals life and poor diet not only interferes with the instinct but also leads to a loss of the ability. This can lead to depression seen in lethargic parrots, or aggression seen in screaming and shrieking parrots, as well as anxiety seen in feather picking parrots. Yes, it is quite possible that the reason why your parrot gives you no peace in the house is because you have been feeding it all the wrong foods.
Loss of flying ability – the beauty of birds has always been in the magnificence and beauty of their flight. That amazing freedom to soar that we find so alluring. Poor diet not only hampers flight due to lack of energy but can also lead to a loss of flying ability.
Birds need protein to ensure that they form the strong muscles they need for flying. However, many people do not know this and are unlikely to provide any suitable source of proteins in the meals provided. Lastly, starvation and malnutrition in some cases occurs because pet parents base their dietary allowances on domesticated animals. This is because there is little research on dietary needs of the many various species kept in the home as pets.
It is important to understand that while a chicken will only consume 6% of its body weight daily when well fed, a different pet bird such as the finch needs 30% of its body weight. Consult a veterinarian on the ideal quantity of food for your specific bird.Remember, all parrots are beautiful but not all parrots are the same; African Grey Parrots require more calcium intake than their Amazon counterparts.
5 Essential Nutrients for Parrots Here are the most essential nutrients needed by birds for healthy living.
Vitamin A Deficiency In Parrots Currumbin Valley Birds, Reptiles & Exotics Vet Surgical Removal Of Impacted Nasal Cavity Due To Vitamin A Deficiency
1. Vitamin A: This is the most commonly deficient nutrient in a pet bird’s diet. Unfortunately, it is one of the most commonly overlooked and undiagnosed. It is especially common in birds fed on diets consisting mostly of nuts and seeds. Vitamin A is fat soluble and is responsible for growth and development, hormone production, immune system response, formation of epithelial, vascular, and mucous membranes. It is also responsible for good vision and it is responsible for the yellow and red pigmentation that most parrot owners love. Bird Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms White spots around the beak which then turn into abscesses. Other symptoms include sneezing, wheezing breathing, crusty nostrils, slimy mouths, diarrhea, dull feathers, restlessness, lethargy, loss of appetite, and gagging sounds.
Effects of vitamin A deficiency Disorders and failures in the three essential body systems; respiratory, digestive, and reproductive systems. Disorders of these systems usually lead to shorter lifespans if not death. How to treat vitamin A deficiency The best way to get the parrot its vitamins is through bird vitamin supplements. The best are beta-carotene which the bird can easily store and convert into Vitamin A as needed. Increase the intake of fruits and foods rich in Vitamin A or Vitamin A precursors (e.g. beta-carotene) such as spinach, egg yolks, carrots, papaya, broccoli leaves, sweet potato, cantaloupe, and collards. Don't Let Your Parrot Overheat Sunshine or UV Lighting helps insure proper vitamin D3 and Calcium levels in prrots
2. Vitamin D: Normally Vitamin D is processed from exposure to the UV content of sunlight. However, domesticated birds are kept indoors most of the time leading to a deficiency. Some parrot parents assume that exposing their parrots to the sunlight by placing them next to the window is enough. This is incorrect because windows block UV light and even when open, the amount of sunlight passing through is too little. Vitamin D is important for parrots as it aids them in absorbing the nutrients contained in their diet as well as assimilating them into their bodies. These dual processes of bio-assimilation and nutrient absorption cannot occur without Vitamin D content. Moreover, Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium which the birds need for egg production, bone formation, and regulating neurological (brain) activity. Furthermore, the sunlight that helps to produce the Vitamin D is also important for ensuring that the bird’s sleep cycles stay regular. This means that part of the reason your parrot may refuse to stop shrieking at night is because by failing to produce his/her vitamin D in the sunlight is interfering with his/her sleep patterns.
Bird Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms
• Easily fractured bones which may be accompanied by a significant decrease in weight indicating a decrease in overall bone strength.
• Physical abnormalities such as an overgrown or soft beak, bent keels, and splayed legs.
Low calcium levels caused by Vitamin D deficiency also may result in increased susceptibility to a wide range of cancers as well as Conure Bleeding Syndrome. Furthermore, what may seem to be eccentricities of your bird’s personality such as feather picking, thin feather coat, and ill temperament can be caused by the deficiency. Organ disorders and immune system dysfunction are also caused by this deficiency. How to treat deficiency
A great preventative measure is good diet from the start. The best choice is extruded organic pellets such as Harrison's Bird Food which provides a supplementary source of the vitamin. However, where deficiency has occurred you will need to buy the vitamins in supplement form as well as install a UV light to ensure that intake and recovery is as speedy as possible. When selecting UV bulbs ensure you get the kind that produces both UVA and UVB light which the parrots will need.
3. Calcium: Calcium is directly tied to Vitamin D and the deficiency goes hand in hand. It is important that you know that specific types of parrots like the African Grey are quite easily susceptible to Calcium deficiency and require supplementation in their diets. Calcium is needed for blood clotting, muscle function, and formation of egg shells, bones, and attachment of feathers. Furthermore, calcium is an ingredient of certain neurotransmitters meaning that it has a direct effect on the mood of the parrot especially when deficiency occurs. Symptoms of calcium deficiency in parrots.
Due to the direct linkage with Vitamin D and especially activated Vitamin D3, the symptoms of a deficiency are practically the same. However, it is important to note that calcium is involved in the regulation of manganese intake. Manganese is needed not only for born and egg formation but also for normal growth and reproductive health. How to treat deficiency
Calcium deficiency is not only caused by lack of sunlight but also by poor nutritional habits. Calcium absorption may be interfered with by high grain and spinach content in their diets. However, treating this deficiency is not as simple as just providing mineral supplements in the form of pellets. Mineral elements such as calcium and phosphorous only work well when they are in specific ratios in the body. For example, calcium needs to be twice as much as phosphorous. Additionally, mineral elements are toxic in quantities larger than traces. Visit a vet to get advice on the ideal quantities of the calcium supplements to be giving and in what time-frame. Lastly, prevent this from happening again by ensuring that the parrot gets adequate time in the sun.
4. Other vitamins: B, E, K, C Vitamins are usually categorized into water and fat soluble vitamins. Fat soluble are stored in the bird’s body’s fat and can cause toxicity in high amounts while water soluble ones are passed out in urine. Fat soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K while water soluble vitamins are thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin, pyridoxine (B6), pantothenic acid, biotin, folic acid, vitamin B12, choline, and vitamin C (ascorbic acid). A quick overview of why each of these is needed;
- Thiamin – transmission in the nervous system; deficiency causes restlessness, feather picking, shrieking, and seizures.
- Riboflavin – formation and action of enzymes; deficiency leads to poor growth, rough and dry skin.
- Niacin – energy production and tissue formation; deficiency causes neurological symptoms and poor growth.
- Pyridoxine – amino acid utilization and antibody formation; deficiency causes immune dysfunction.
- Pantothenic acid and biotin – metabolic reactions, enzyme formation, and carbon dioxide metabolism; deficiency causes metabolic system disorders.
- Folic acid – production of amino acids and antibodies; deficiency causes immune disorders.
- B12 – important for metabolic processes and formation of proteins, nucleic acid, carbohydrates, and fat; deficiency leads to metabolic disruption and death.
- Ascorbic acid – enzymatic reactions for maintaining collagen and elastin in walls of blood vessels. How to treat deficiencies in parrots.
Deficiencies of important vitamins can only be properly diagnosed by an avian veterinarian. Such specialist should also provide information on the supplements to be used and the dosage levels.
5. Amino acids Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. These are an essential part of a healthy and nutritional bird diet. Amino acids and proteins are needed for feather, bone, muscle, enzyme, and hormone formation. Lack of protein and amino acids leads to poor growth and eventually death of the parrot. Remember, proteins are the building blocks of muscle and are therefore needed at all stages of muscle formation. Additionally, deficiency in proteins can weaken certain part of the bird’s body such as the wings. This can lead to a temporary and in some cases permanent loss of flight abilities. How to treat deficiency Small live organisms, boiled eggs, and monkey biscuit are a great way to provide protein supplements. The case for pellets Just like children birds are picky eaters; they will selectively eat what they like the taste of and avoid what they do not enjoy. However, pellets Harrison's Bird Food provide an organic, balanced, yet tasty way of ensuring that your beloved parrot is getting the full range of nutrients it needs. Pass this blog along to help insure parrots get enough bird vitamins for a healthy, happy life.
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- Diane Burroughs