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Avoid These 10 Foods to Keep Your Bird Healthy
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Avoid These 10 Foods to Keep Your Bird Healthy

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Jan 17, 2023

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So you've had your bird for a short while now, and you've probably been advised about what to feed it to ensure it gets all the nutrients necessary for a high quality of life.

But what about the items that you shouldn't serve them?

Getting familiar with the foods that can negatively affect your bird and cut its lengthy lifespan short is the next order of business. Once you know what to avoid, alert anyone who has contact with your bird to the dangers of these foods to prevent well-meaning accidents. You should also stop using Teflon cookware—birds inhaling the fumes can die suddenly.

1

Avocado

Whole and sliced avocado on wood Westend61/ Getty Images

Avocado is off-limits. If you love your guac, don't share leftovers with your bird because it can be severely toxic and lead to death.

Avocadoes contain persin, which can damage the heart in several species, such as budgies and canaries. All parts of the avocado plant, including the skin and leaves, are dangerous and can cause a bird to breathe heavily or collapse within an hour of exposure.

Heck, avocado fruit can even kill an ostrich within two days.

If you suspect your bird has eaten an avo, rush it to an emergency vet who may be able to extract it from the crop or administer other treatments.

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2

Caffeine

Close up of woman's hand holding a cup of coffee, d3sign/ Getty Images

It's easy to forget that caffeine is present in more than coffee. Tea, energy drinks, soda, and chocolate all have some of this energy-boosting ingredient, and caffeine can lead to heart arrhythmias and cardiac arrest.

If your bird seems keen on a sip, you'll have to remind them that it's not worth a heart attack. A ton of water or freshly juiced fruits or veggies is a better idea.

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3

Alcohol

Man drinking pint of beer Sally Anscombe/ Getty Images

Perhaps you get drunk one night and think it'd be funny to get your bird tipsy, or you're a responsible avian parent, but your free-roaming buddy took an interest in a cocktail on your counter. Alcohol is terrible for you, and it's worse for your bird—its system can be depressed to the point of death.

Boozy foods are problematic too, so if you're having a dinner party where you plan on serving drinks, Bailey's truffles, and a dirty trifle, be sure to keep your bird in its cage.

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4

Chocolate

Woman biting a chocolate bar eternalcreative/ Getty Images

You might be a chocoholic, but it's an item you'll want to keep well away from companion birds that like sweet things.

Chocolate contains theobromine and small amounts of caffeine. These substances can put your bird into overdrive with an increased heart rate, hyperactive behavior, and shakes. It can also affect the digestive system.

Dark chocolate is a healthy antioxidant-rich treat for humans, but the darker the chocolate, the worse the effects on birds. At high doses, chocolate can cause seizures and be fatal. Offer your feathery friend a grape instead.

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5

Onions and garlic

Garlic cloves, shallots and white onions - food ingredient on wooden board, decorated with fresh parsley. joannatkaczuk/ Getty Images

Raw, powdered, cooked, and green—although tiny amounts of these forms of onion and garlic may be okay, it's better to be safe than sorry where your winged pal is concerned.

Excessive consumption of foods like chives and shallots can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.

Sulfur compounds in onions can irritate a bird's mouth and esophagus, cause ulcers, and the rupture of red blood cells, known as hemolytic anemia, which leads to respiratory distress over the long term.

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6

Xylitol

Set of dental hygiene products on white marble table. Inna Dodor/ Getty Images

If you're not stocking this artificial sweetener in your pantry cupboard, you'll find it in chewing gum, sugar-free candies, mouthwash, toothpaste, and cough syrup.

It's a healthy alternative for you but no bueno for your bird. Birds have fast metabolisms, and small amounts of xylitol can give rise to liver damage and hypoglycemia.

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7

Salt

Sprinkles eggs and bacon with salt from a shaker. frantic00/ Getty Images

Just like us, birds need salt to survive. But too much salt comes with a host of issues, such as dehydration, kidney malfunctioning, and possibly death.

Birds have much smaller bodies than we do, so a salty chip is going to have a different and more hazardous effect on their electrolyte and fluid balance.

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8

Dried beans

Various dry legumes in a glass jar peangdao/ Getty Images

When was the last time you ate a wholly unprepared dried bean? Probably never. Undercooked beans cause food poisoning with nausea, discomfort, and stomach pain. The same is true for your bird.

Birds love nutritious beans, but the raw version containing hemagglutinin is toxic. Dried beans should be rinsed, soaked, and cooked before consumption. Try to stick to one type of bean at a time to monitor its effects rather than feeding a bean mix.

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9

High-fat foods

close up of fast food snacks and drink on table dolgachov/ Getty Images

A diet consisting of foods that are high in fat and sugar, including butter and oils, is a recipe for chronic illness in us and our pets. One of the most significant conditions vets see in birds is obesity.

An abundance of treats, including too much fruit like sweet mango and cantaloupe, means a higher energy intake. Because domestic birds are relatively inactive, they become overweight, which can generate liver and pancreatic disease.

Quakers and Amazon parrots, for example, have a high risk of developing cholesterol and heart disease.

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10

Additional cautions

Fresh ripe peaches karandaev/ Getty Images

Be careful with fruits like apples and stone fruits like peaches, plums, and cherries—the seeds and pits contain cyanide which is poisonous and harmful for a birdy's heart.

Thoroughly wash the fruit and veggies you feed your bird to eliminate pesticide residues.

Here are other foods to take precautions with:

  • Certain mushrooms can cause an upset stomach and liver failure.
  • Raw, improperly stored, and moldy peanuts can be cancer-causing.
  • The leaves of tomatoes, spinach, rhubarbs, and nightshades, like eggplants, can be toxic.
  • Aloe vera can cause kidney inflammation and intestinal irritation.
  • In addition, be wary of rhubarb, lettuce, lemons, potatoes, and beef.

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