Festive treats for your parrot

The Festive Season is a wonderful time of year with holidays, family and friends, and great food. These celebrations can, however, have unwanted consequences for our pets when they end up eating unhealthy or inappropriate foods or being exposed to environmental toxins.

Avoid these problems

To ensure that your parrot doesn’t end up at the vet, here are a few tips that you can follow to avoid problems during this crazy time.

  1. Make sure your bird is nowhere near the kitchen while you are cooking. Teflon is the substance used on non-stick pans, and when these pans are heated they release a gas called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which is deadly to parrots. The parrot will experience difficulty breathing, which rapidly progresses to seizures and death. Braai and cigarette smoke exposure can cause similar symptoms. So, keep your bird away from these harmful elements.
  2. All types of alcohol are harmful to birds, so make sure your guests know not to allow your bird anywhere near their drinks.
  3. Caffeine is found in coffee, Ceylon tea and energy drinks. Even small amounts can cause heart attacks in birds.
  4. Spicy foods or any dish with a large amount of oil or salt can upset the bird’s stomach.
  5. Milk products cannot be digested by birds and cause diarrhoea – best to avoid them all costs.
  6. Avocado and raw onions are highly toxic to birds. This means that many salads are also out of bounds for our feathered friends.
  7. Very sugary foods can cause diarrhoea and an imbalance in the healthy gut bacteria.

Healthy treats

There is a variety of safe treats that you can feed your feathered friend to allow him to share in the festivities.

  • Most fruits are safe for parrots and a bowl of fruit salad will most likely be eagerly accepted.
  • Many birds enjoy a leftover chicken bone, such as that of a roast drumstick.
  • Although milk products on the whole are not recommended, a small amount of yoghurt is a safe treat.
  • Raw, unsalted nuts are natural treats for birds.
  • A tiny (pea-sized) piece of cheese or a teaspoon of cooked egg is also a great treat for them.
  • Pasta, rice or pap, as long as it isn’t smothered in sauce or gravy, makes a good treat.
  • And lastly, cooked vegetables are healthy treats. Refrain from using salt in the vegetables.

Different kind of treat

Often the action of finding food (foraging) is just as enriching for the bird as actually eating the treat. Try hiding the treats in cardboard boxes or destructible toys for the parrot to break open and discover. This will entertain him while stimulating his mind.

There are amazing ideas on the internet for making foraging toys from household waste such as old egg cartons.

Should you become aware that your bird has eaten or been exposed to anything potentially harmful, please contact your avian veterinarian immediately. If seen to before signs of poisoning develop, the bird has a much better chance of a good recovery.

By far the safest is to leave your pet comfortably in his cage with healthy food and toys. He can still enjoy the festivities but remain safely away from guests who, with no ill intent, could offer him something harmful. Happy holidays!

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