Parrots can eat most of the food that you eat, but some can be harmful to them and it can be very challenging to know all the foods that are dangerous or toxic to them. Parrots are like little kids, and although they can enjoy the same type of food you eat, some aren’t safe to eat. It’s hard to refuse to offer your parrot some food when he begs for it like a piece of cheese and as a pet owner, you probably like to share your food with him. But is it safe to let your parrot nibble on pieces of cheese?
The fact is cheese is not safe or healthy for your parrot to eat because it can give him an upset stomach and other digestive problems. Although dairy foods aren’t technically toxic, birds aren’t able to digest lactose which is found in milk and other dairy products, but some products contain very little lactose like cheese and yogurt.
Reasons why cheese is bad for parrots
It contains lactose
Lactose is a problem for many people and can be equally bad or worse to your parrot. Lactose is the sugar found in milk which can cause a very bad stomach ache. Because birds aren’t mammals, they’re not nurtured with their mother’s milk so their bodies don’t produce the enzyme that is responsible for breaking down milk sugar. The bird’s embryo is enclosed in an egg during incubation and it contains all the fluids and nutrients that the bird needs to sustain it until it hatches.
Birds don’t produce milk they feed their young with regurgitated food stored in the crop of their esophagus. Even the human body produces very little of this enzyme so you end up being lactose intolerant. When lactose isn’t broken down in your body, it will give you a very bad stomach ache so when your parrot eats a lot of cheese there will be a lot of undigested lactose which will cause him to diarrhea.
It has no nutritional value to parrots
Parrots love eating cheese because it’s delicious, but just like all the snacks like ice cream that you find irresistible, they’re not good for your health. Cheese contains some valuable nutrients like vitamins and protein, but it also contains some not so good ingredients like the fact that it has a high-fat content and high levels of sodium. It also has a very high amount of calories so if you’re keeping an eye on your parrot’s calorie intake, then you should not give him any cheese. Instead, you can feed your parrot grains, fruits, and veggies which are both nutritious and healthy with the same amount of calories a small piece of cheese.
Cheese can harbor bacteria
Most of the cheese manufactured have to go through a fermentation process and sometimes the cheese can pick up bacteria during the processing cycle. It’s not something that occurs most of the time, but when it happens it and your parrot ingests the bacteria it can lead to digestive problems like loose and stinking feces. If your parrot experiences these problems after eating any dairy products, take him to a vet for avian probiotics and antibiotics.
It contains additives
The additives put in the cheese can be a big problem. Some cheese is added onion or garlic which is very bad for birds and especially your parrot because these spices are very poisonous to your parrot’s digestive tract. That’s why you need to carefully check the ingredients in the cheese before you feed it to your parrot.
Some healthy snacks you can feed your parrot
If taken in moderation, cheese isn’t harmful to your parrot, but it’s also not the best option. But, there are other snacks you can give with a more natural nutritional value. Here are some snack alternatives that your parrot will love eating and are healthy.
Parrots love eating a wide variety of fruits. They contain lots of water which helps to keep your parrot hydrated throughout the day and the abundance of essential vitamins and minerals helps to promote good health in your parrot. You have a wide variety of fruits you can feed your parrot, but you should be careful with the fruits that have high sugar content. Also, don’t feed give too much fruit because it can lead to a watery stool and the sugar can lead to health and obesity problems.
Veggies aren’t as sweet as fruits, but parrots love munching on them because they form a natural part of their diet. They contain lots of water and nutrients which is good for your parrot’s health. The loud crunch of the crispy veggies keeps your parrot entertained.
Parrots love seeds, they’re a natural part of their diet. Since they’re high in fat, you should only give as a treat and not part of their daily diet.
Nuts also form part of their natural daily diet and are high in nutrients and fat. The nuts that are still in their shells help your parrot to exercise his jaw muscles when cracking the shells open to reach the nut inside.
Grains like oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, barley, etc. are very healthy snacks to give your parrot. They contain a healthy amount of protein, carbs, and fiber. Parrots enjoy eating grains better when they have been warmed a little.
So, can parrots eat cheese? Yes, although it’s not a healthy option because it can lead to bad stomach aches and other digestive problems in your parrot. Milk and other dairy products contain lactose that isn’t safe for most birds because it can be tough to digest, especially if your parrot eats too much. Although cheese isn’t an ideal snack for your parrot, parrots love munching on pieces of cheese. While dairy products can provide your parrot with necessary nutrients like vitamin D3 and calcium, you need to be very careful what you’re giving your parrot so that you ensure that it’s safe. If you want to feed your parrot cheese, first consult your vet to advise you on what to do.