Often it’s hard to turn a blind eye to a parrot begging for some of your food. We love to share with our pets. Many owners notice their parrots always beg for a piece of cheese. But is it safe to let your parrot nibble on your grilled cheese? The answer may surprise you.
Can parrots eat cheese? Cheese is not healthy for parrots. It can lead to stomach ache and other digestive issues in your parrot. So is best to avoid feeding cheese. Dairy foods are not recommended but it is not fatal. If you choose to give your parrot dairy, do so sparingly.
What can happen if you still feed your parrot cheese? And what about non-diary cheese? If you want to learn more about that, continue reading! Also, we will show you some healthy and tasty alternatives you can feed your parrot!
Why is cheese bad for parrots?
Although your parrot may disagree, cheese is not an ideal snack. Listed below are some reasons why cheese is bad for parrots.
It has lactose
Lactose- it’s an annoyance in many a person’s diet. It can be equally bad, if not worse, for our avian friends. Lactose, which is the sugar found in milk, can cause quite the stomach ache.
Birds are not mammals. They don’t grow up drinking their mothers’ milk. This means their bodies do not produce the enzyme that is necessary to break down milk sugar. In fact, many humans produce a minimal amount of this enzyme, causing lactose intolerance.
Lactose that has not been broken-down is a recipe for a serious stomach ache. If your bird eats too much cheese and has a lot of undigested lactose, it can be prone to diarrhea.
It can harbor bacteria
Many kinds of cheese have to go through a fermentation process. In some cases, cheese can pick up bacteria during this process.
It is not a common occurrence but a dangerous one. If your bird ingests this bacteria it can lead to digestive issues including loose, foul-smelling feces.
If you notice your bird having this issue after eating dairy, contact your vet. This ailment is cured with antibiotics and avian probiotics.
It is not nutritionally valuable for parrots
It’s no secret why your parrot loves to eat cheese, it’s delicious. But often those snacks we find irresistible (I’m looking at you, ice cream) are not the best choices for our wellness.
Cheese does have vitamins and protein but it also has some not so great ingredients.
Cheese is a high-fat product. There are better fat-containing foods your bird can eat instead. In addition, cheese contains a lot of sodium.
Lastly, this food is calorie-dense. If you are monitoring your parrot’s calorie intake, then this food is a big no-no. Your parrot can enjoy a larger portion of fruits, veggies, and grains for the same amount of calories in a small piece of cheese.
Can parrots eat non-dairy cheese?
So your parrot loves cheese but it’s not the best snack option. You may think that a dairy-free alternative is a healthy solution. But is it really a better option? It depends.
Not all dairy-free cheese is created equally. So if you want to give some to your parrot it’s best to check the ingredients first.
There are countless dairy-free cheese brands that use soy as its main ingredient, which is not the best for birds. Soy contains hormones toxic to parrots. If given too much soy, parrots can develop health issues such as bone and beak deformity and early aging.
Additionally, soy is very high in protein. Excess protein intake stores as fat in your bird’s body. This also negatively impacts your bird’s health.
In small amounts, soy cheese is okay but it is not a good snack alternative.
Coconut Oil Cheese
When you hear coconut oil, you may think it’s a healthier option. However, it is also not ideal as a parrot snack.
This oil-based cheese will have a high-fat content. Parrots do need to get quite a bit of fat into their diets, but it is best to do so with natural, unprocessed options.
Coconut oil also has a strong coconut flavor. This means that coconut oil cheese is heavily flavored with other ingredients like salt, garlic powder, and onion powder- which is toxic.
If you’re going for a dairy-free alternative, nut-based cheese is the winner. It is still not great as a regular snack, but it does contain nuts, a natural part of a parrot’s diet. It has healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
It is still important to read the label. Like the coconut oil cheese, nut-based cheese is often heavily flavored with harmful ingredients. If you want a delicious challenge, you can make your own nut-based cheese and control the ingredients that go into it.
Healthy snacks for parrots
Cheese is not your bird’s worst enemy since in moderation it is not harmful. It’s also not your bird’s best friend. Fortunately, there’s a long list of great snacks that you can offer instead. It’s best to look for nutritionally valuable food options that are natural.
Below you’ll find snack alternatives that are good for your parrot’s wellness and taste buds.
Fruit. You can’t beat a healthy portion of fruit. This food group has a high water content which keeps your parrot hydrated. Fruit also has an abundance of vitamins and minerals essential to your feathered friend’s health.
The options are endless when it comes to fruit. Many parrot owners swear by melon, tropical fruits, and berries. Just keep an eye on high sugar fruits.
Still, you shouldn’t feed too much fruit as it can lead to watery stool and the sugar can lead to obesity and other health problems. We show you how to feed the right amount in these articles:
- Why strawberries are healthy for parrots!
- How to feed a parrot watermelon
- Are cherries safe for parrots?
Vegetables. It may not be as sweet as fruit but parrots love it all the same. Vegetables also contain plenty of water and nutrients. Parrots enjoy munching on veggies because it is a natural part of their diets.
Also, birds entertain themselves by the loud crunch of crisp veggies. Try giving your parrot some broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, and carrots. You should also have a look at cucumbers! We explain everything about parrots and cucumbers in this article!
Nuts. These are another natural part of a parrot’s diet. They are high in healthy fats and nutrients. Nuts are also fun for parrots to eat. If still in the shell, your bird can exercise it’s jaw muscles by cracking open the shells to get to the tasty treat inside.
Grains. Grains are a hearty yet healthy snack for parrots. They contain healthy carbs, protein, and fiber. Oatmeal, barley, brown rice, and quinoa are some great options. Best of all, parrots love to eat grains warm.
Seeds. Parrots devour seed when provided. It is also a natural part of their diets. It is high in fat and should only be provided as a treat and not as a diet staple. Your parrot will enjoy seeds such as millet, buckwheat, pumpkin, and sunflower.
Meat. Yes, parrots can eat meat. Pretty surprising, isn’t it? We show you what meat you can feed and how to feed it in this article!
What can’t parrots eat? Always avoid feeding your parrot processed foods, foods with high fat content, and foods with high sodium. Alcohol and caffeine should also be avoided. Not all-natural foods are great either. Avocados, mushrooms, onions, garlic and apple seeds are toxic.
Can parrots eat fish? It is not recommended to feed your parrot too much fish. This is because a lot of fish have high mercury content. Also, it is not a natural part of their diets. If you wish to feed your parrot fish, do so rarely. Look for a fish that is low in fat and has a low level of mercury.