Sunday, October 11, 2009

Watch for signs of obesity in pet bird

Is your parrot fat? Life with little activity while in a cage with an all-you-can-eat buffet has many birds overweight and struggling with health problems.

Poor food choices - too many seeds, processed or otherwise fatty foods - also pack the pounds on.

Amazon parrots, large cockatoos, cockatiels and budgies seem more prone to obesity than other species of pet birds. Some of the signs of obesity in birds include:

* The presence of rolls of fat around the abdomen and hip areas, along with cleavage on the abdomen or breast area.

* Visible fat under the skin. The skin of most normal pet birds is typically very thin and quite transparent. When the skin is wet with rubbing alcohol, you should be able to see dark pink or red muscle underneath. In overweight birds, you see yellowish fat instead.

* Breathing difficulty, such as laboured breathing, especially after physical exertion.

* Heat intolerance, shown by excessive wing drooping or open-mouthed breathing in a hot environment.

* Overgrown upper beaks. Some birds will grow their upper beaks excessively long if they have obesity and fatty liver disease problems.

This is particularly true in Amazon parrots and budgies.

If you suspect your bird is fat - and especially if you already know your bird is fat - see your veterinarian right away for nutritional counselling and other ways to attack the problem.

Long-term obesity and a poor diet is a major cause of joint problems and heart disease in birds in middle age.

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