About BirdDoctor

14 Responses to “Obese budgie with secondary fatty liver disease”

    • spotdvm

      Dear Hannah Banana,

      This budgie did fine with a serious diet!

      Sincerely,

      M. Scott Echols, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian Practice)

      Reply
      • Grace

        Hi Would you please be able to guide me in a correct diet for budgies. We have always just fed them on seed. One that my parents have got has a swollen tummy area. She has been like it for at least 2 weeks. Perfectly “healthy” otherwise in regards to flying, eating, preening, pooping (I think), chirping. Not agitated or showing any signs of discomfort. I have had people tell me she is egg bound, but she would be dead after so long if this was they case! Right? I would like to guide my parents in changing her diet and would really love some advice. I got them to put her into a smaller cage by herself as she was in a cage with 3 males and very flirty with at least one of them. Was wondering if hormones could affect her in this way. Also thinking of fatty growths/tumour. I hope you may be able to offer me some advice. Sincerely, Grace

        Reply
        • spotdvm

          Grace,

          These are very good questions- so let’s see if we can cover everything you asked!

          First, if you have any concerns about the health of your bird please see an avian veterinarian. Nothing can replace a good history and physical exam! Also an experienced avian veterinarian can discuss and address reproductive, metabolic and other disease processes if present.

          Budgerigars are natural granivores. Meaning they eat seeds and grains as a predominant proportion of their diet in the wild. However, I do not recommend a seed based diet for captive birds. The main reason is that most commercially available parrot seed diets generally provide excessive calories and imbalanced nutrients. Captive birds simply don’t need the calories (which commonly leads to obesity) and dietary imbalances lead to long term health problems.

          As a general rule, I recommend (for budgerigars) feeding less than 50% pellets with the other half being whole grains (spelt, flax seed, chia seed, hemp seed, barley, steel cut oats, etc), shredded dark leafy veggies (no spinach though), herbs and broccoli crowns and finally, a few berries. If you go to ‘Forms’ and ‘Foods for Different Avian Species’ you will see the list of recommended foods and how to safely convert birds over to a new diet.

          Also important to basic health is exercise and (supervised) exposure to natural sunlight. I say ‘supervised’ because I want to make sure that the bird is kept in a secure area (from predators and other dangers) with opportunities to be in direct and indirect sunlight (usually a partially shaded enclosure). A large cage or flying room is essential to encouraging exercise. Additionally creating a safe environment for foraging can help with improving mental and physical health.

          sincerely,

          M. Scott Echols, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian Practice)

          Reply
  1. Ana

    Hi,
    Me and my brother have a lot of birds, some budgies, some lovebirds and some cockatiels. They were separated before, but we have built an aviary and they are all in it together.
    But after sometimes we started seeing that some of the budgies are breaking their legs, and fighting among each other. From the changes we’ve made, now that they are in the aviary, is the nesting; before they had little trunks, and now they have wooden boxes… Could that be the reason of the leg injuries? And what about the fighting? Because it has come to the point in which one male killed another.

    I appreciate your attention.
    Sincerely, Ana

    Reply
    • spotdvm

      Ana,

      There are many causes for leg fractures in birds. If you are having multiple birds with problems then I would start looking for common links such as poor diet, aggression because of crowding and/or cage design dangers that are leading to injuries. The first step is to have your birds examined by an avian veterinarian. With proper identification of the problem, then you can determine the next best course of action to eliminate or reduce the injuries.

      Sincerely,

      M. Scott Echols, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian Practice)

      Reply
  2. Emma

    My male budgie (harry), has the same lump as the one in the picture, he is about 8, do not no his true age has he was found outdoors 7 years ago, he seems fine, chirping, flying, eating, pooing. What should i do? if i put him on a diet, what should he be eating has he as always eaten seeds, i do give him honey bar budgie treats. He shares his home with an other male budgie, he is only 1 and half years old so i need a diet plan that will suit them both.
    Thank you
    Emma

    Reply
    • spotdvm

      Emma,

      The first step would be to take your bird(s) to an avian veterinarian. Obesity can often (but not always) be picked up on a physical exam. While budgies are natural seed eaters in the wild, these high fat diets are too calorie dense for most captive birds. They simply do not need all of that energy! If you go on this website under ‘Forms’ and finally ‘Foods for Different Avian Species’ you will see a free paper that describes diets for different commonly kept birds and how to convert them. In addition to diet change, foraging is a great option to increase activity (see video ‘Captive Foraging’). Also enlarge the cage in which your birds live- that will help increase exercise.

      Sincerely,

      M. Scott Echols, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian Practice)

      Reply
  3. Elizabeth

    I’ve fed my Quaker parrot seeds for his entire life, (4 yrs) and he’s still pooping, eating, and preening himself fine.. I know seed diets are risky, but he wont eat anything else. I’ve tried to get him to eat fruits, veggies, human food, etc… But he just avoids it and eats his seeds… 🙁 I don’t know why.

    Reply
    • spotdvm

      Elizabeth,

      Quaker parrots are especially prone to obesity, fatty liver disease, atherosclerosis and other complications of eating a high fat (seed based) diet. Quakers are true granivores which means they naturally eat seeds and grains. That is fine when considering a bird in the wild is active flying around foraging for food, avoiding predators, surviving the elements, etc. Also, the seeds that are available in the wild are far more nutritionally complex than sunflower, safflower and other common seeds found in a typical bird seed mix. When offered a commercial seed mix, most birds pick out 1-3 favorite seeds which creates a micro (vitamins, minerals antioxidants) and macro (protein, fat, carbohydrate) nutrient imbalanced diet.

      Indoor pet birds just simply don’t fly miles every day looking for food, avoiding predators or have to deal with the elements (rain, cold, etc). The caloric requirements for a pet bird is significantly less than that of its wild counterpart. The end results of a high fat, high calorie, nutrient imbalanced diet are the problems mentioned above- obesity, atherosclerosis, etc.

      The major foods to avoid for pet parrots are seeds and nuts, flour based foods (bread, chips, tortillas, crackers, etc), candy, fried foods, chocolate, caffeine, dried fruits and meat (specifically it is the animal based cholesterol). Fresh veggies (dark richly colored veggies, but no spinach), fresh fruits (especially berries), whole grains (spelt, oat groats, flax seed, etc) and commercially available pellets make a better balanced diets for most pet birds.

      As you mentioned, a lot of birds eating seed based diets don’t want to eat healthy foods. There are several means to convert a bird to a good diet (many are listed on this website under ‘Forms’ and ‘Foods for Different Avian Species’). Which ever technique you use to convert your bird’s diet, make sure he is pooping! That at least means he is eating. I always bring up this cautionary note because some birds will literally starve to death if they don’t recognize the new food as ‘food’.

      The long term effects of feeding a seed based diet to a captive pet bird can be devastating. However, a good diet is a part of a long and healthy life. That goes for all humans and animals.

      M. Scott Echols, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian Practice)

      Reply
  4. Ann Connor

    Hi, I have heard that pellets can cause problems for mutation budgies. I have a lutino and wondered if it would be safe to convert her to the pelleted diet along with veggies etc.

    Reply
    • spotdvm

      Ann,

      There have been a lot of concerns about feeding pellets to certain species and breeds of parrots. One of those discussed concerns has been with small color mutation parrots like budgies. While there is a potential concern, there is no scientific proof substantiating the claims. I am the one who published (in a book) ‘pellet induced kidney disease of color variety parrots’. So I have to take some responsibility for the concerns.

      We don’t understand why, but some birds (primarily small color variety parrots) are more prone to kidney disease when fed a predominantly (> 90%) pellet diet. As a result, I recommend that all small species parrots (budgies, cockatiels, lovebirds, parrotlets, etc) be fed no more than 50% pellets and the remaining being whole grains, veggies etc. With that formula, I have never documented cases of kidney disease I felt were attributable to diet.

      On the flipside, there is well documented disease with feeding seed based (and other inappropriate) diets to pet budgies. In fact the risks associated with feeding seed based diets supersedes that associated with feeding 100% pellet diets.

      Sincerely,

      M. Scott Echols, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian Practice)

      Reply
  5. bruce

    my male budgie has the obese look for some time,i have 5 other budgies,i feed them all the same trill foods,treats,etc,and he is the only one with the large tummy.they are only caged during the night,the rest of the time,the cage is left open so they can come&go freely in and out,as they have a bedroom to themselfes,,no other pets,what should I do because as I have had him the longest,feel I have my hands tied not knowing how to help him,and it can sometimes be upsetting looking at him in his present state,any ideas would be appreciated…

    Reply
    • BirdDoctor

      Bruce,

      First it would be best to see an avian veterinarian to make sure there are no other limiting factors. For example, he may have arthritis limiting his mobility, or there may be another cause of the belly expanding. If this appears to be purely an issue of excess fat then I would modify the diet. I don’t recommend feeding seed only diets to budgies. I do recommend feeding 50{57abd7708b8097166167b8d83c5d38d19091d5adea3d5989560eabb346e23498} or less as pellets and the remaining as grains (spelt, oat groats, flax seed, chia seed, hemp seed, etc) and shredded dark leafy greens. See https://www.avianstudios.com/forms/ under ‘Foods for Different Avian Species’ for more food ideas and conversion methods. You would obviously need to be careful about changing the diet for all the birds if they are not separated. As another suggestion, make sure there is enough space for exercise and an opportunity to get natural unfiltered sunshine in a safe environment.

      Sincerely,

      M. Scott Echols, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian Practice)

      Reply

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)