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Onions, Garlic and Other Foods to Avoid Giving Your Birds

Onion, garlic and birds

Via iStock.com/bpperry

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Vegetables and fruits are a tasty, enriching way to enhance your bird’s fortified pelleted diet. In fact, according to Byron J.S. de la Navarre, DVM at the Animal House of Chicago, vegetables and fruits should make up about 30 percent of your bird’s diet. And while some pelleted parrot bird food contain dried vegetables and fruits, you can choose to feed fresh options as well. But not all foods from your refrigerator or pantry are safe for your bird to eat. In fact, some, like onions and garlic, can be downright toxic.

“Onions, garlic, chives, shallots, leek or anything containing these should be avoided,” he says. “Excessive consumption of onions and garlic can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other digestive problems in pet birds.”

Say No-No to Cocoa

Chocolate is another food to be avoided, de la Navarre says, especially dark chocolate.

“The general rule is the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more potentially toxic it is to a pet,” he says.

The caffeine and theobromine in chocolate affects birds’ digestive systems and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity and, if consumed in large amounts, even death, he says.

Xylitol? Not at All

While pet birds tend to be overweight due to high-fat diets, especially those rich in seeds, feeding your bird sugar-free snacks that contain xylitol as a way to cut his calories is not recommended, de la Navarre says. This artificial sweetener often used in sugarless gum and other diet foods can cause low blood sugar, liver damage and if fed in large amounts, even death.

“Birds have a faster metabolism than many other species and may be more sensitive to even small amounts of this artificial sweetener,” he says.

Of course, gum of any kind should be avoided as it can stick to birds’ feathers, beak and skin, creating an unsightly and uncomfortable mess.

Don’t Pick These Veggies And Fruits

Avocadoes may be the latest super food, but they are not super for your bird. In fact, all parts of the avocado, the plant as well we the fruit, contain a toxin that can cause respiratory illness, weakness and heart failure in birds.

Tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant are fine for your bird to eat, but avoid giving them the leaves or any part of the plant, for that matter. Ingesting these plants, which belong to the nightshade family, can cause kidney problems.

Mushrooms are also a no-no as they have been linked to digestive and liver problems in birds.

While most fruit is safe and healthy for birds to eat, the seeds and pits of certain fruit can pose problems for birds. Avoid any seeks in the rose family including apples, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, and pears. Some of these contain traces of cyanide which can be toxic for birds.

Other Foods and Beverages Birds Should Avoid

  • Salty chips, popcorn, pretzels and crackers. High sodium snacks can cause dehydration, kidney or liver problems.
  • Alcoholic beverages which can organ failure and even death.
  • Coffee, coffee beans, grounds, tea or caffeinated sodas which can cause heart issues, hyperactivity and even cardiac arrest.
  • Milk or dairy products which can cause diarrhea.

Chris Brownlow has been writing about pets for over 10 years. As a writer who believes in immersing herself in her topic, she has tasted more than 20 different flavors of dog and cat food while working on an advertising campaign for PetSmart. Prior to her pet days, Chris was a print and digital journalist at The Tampa Tribune and The Virginian-Pilot.

Featured Image: Via iStock.com/bpperry