Some parrot owners may claim their parrot can eat cheese without issue, but this isn’t the best thing for their parrot. All birds, including parrots, are very lactose intolerant, so they won’t be able to break down dairy.
However, what happens if a parrot eats a small amount of cheese? Is this safe? You worry about what you are feeding our parrots. Could you make them unwell, or worse?
You search and search, but can’t seem to find the answers you need. You desperately want to treat our parrots, but don’t want to harm them. So what can you do?
Well, stick with us as we cover what happens when a parrot eats cheese within this article. You’ll also find a few alternative snacks that are completely safe to give your bird.
Can Parrots Eat Cheese?
Cheese may be a popular snack to give parrots, but as birds can’t digest dairy, it isn’t going to do them any good. If a parrot eats dairy, it’ll endure the same effects that occur when a lactose intolerant human eats dairy.
Intestinal pain and diarrhea will indicate your parrot has eaten a lot of dairy products. This puts your bird in pain, but it also means you’ll struggle to clean its cage.
Some parrot owners believe that you can build up a bird’s dairy tolerance, but this is false.
The parrot doesn’t have the enzymes required to process dairy. No matter how slowly you expose the bird to dairy, they won’t produce new enzymes.
Can Cheese Kill Your Parrot?
Eating cheese can be a pain for you and your parrot, but fortunately, cheese has a low chance of killing your bird.
The effects of lactose intolerance are gastrointestinal, so they shouldn’t kill your parrot. Despite this, it’s best to be on the safe side and avoid feeding your parrot cheese at all.
Here is a list of some substances within the cheese, including why they may be bad for your parrot.
Cheese contains a lot of saturated fat. This fat raises cholesterol levels and can lead to weight gain if too much is consumed.
High-fat diets can make parrots obese, especially if left unchecked. Parrots need some fat in their diet, but only a small amount.
High amounts of fat can lead to joint pain, digestive issues, and fatty liver disease. Saturated fat can also stick to a parrot’s organs, which can make them stop working, leading to an early death.
All birds are lactose intolerant. After parrots hatch, their mothers feed them regurgitated food. Parrot mothers don’t nurse, so they don’t produce the lactase enzyme. This substance breaks down lactose within dairy products.
Cheese contains lactose, so if a parrot eats too much cheese, it may experience stomach issues like diarrhea and vomiting. If your parrot has these conditions, it should improve when cheese is removed from its diet.
If they could, parrots would eat salty foods non-stop. Salty foods may taste great, but sodium can lead to health issues. These include hypertension, heart disease, kidney issues, and strokes.
In most cases, the cheese will have been fermented, a process that can harbor bacteria. This is rare, but if your parrot eats cheese that contains bacteria, they will get sick.
A clear sign of this is watery stools that smell bad. Your parrot will be tired and lethargic afterward, so be sure to monitor their behavior as they recover.
Cheese from the grocery store will have additives to keep them in stock for long. Processed cheese with a longer life span will be full of preservatives, all things that parrots shouldn’t be eating.
Types Of Cheeses
It’s best not to feed your parrot cheese at all, but some cheeses are much worse than others.
Swiss cheese is high in calcium and vitamin A, and it’s also lower in salt and fat. This makes it one of the better cheeses for parrots to consume.
We wouldn’t recommend giving it to your parrot at all, but if your bird eats a small amount of it, you shouldn’t worry too much.
Swiss cheese may be the exception, but other cheeses, like cottage, mozzarella, and string cheese should all be avoided.
Cottage And Other White Cheeses
These cheeses can cause proventriculitis, as well as fungal and bacterial infections. Proventriculitis can destroy the nerves, leading to nervous conditions and digestive issues. This isn’t just painful for your bird, it could be fatal.
Compared to others, this cheese needs more surgical removal. It contains a lot of gum which can lead to an obstruction in the intestines.
If the blockage isn’t removed, a parrot can die in 1-2 days. This can still occur even if the pieces are small, as mozzarella is stringy so it can become larger when eaten.
String cheese should be avoided too. It can also get stuck in a parrot’s intestinal tract, requiring surgery to remove it.
String cheeses can also be made with artificial flavorings and colors to give it its orange hue. These additives just aren’t suitable for a parrot’s diet.
Alternative Snacks Safe For Parrots
It’s clear why cheese isn’t good for your parrot, but here are some healthier options that will keep your parrot satisfied.
Crackers And Peanut Butter
Parrots love peanut butter! Add some peanut butter on a cracker to give your bird a tasty treat. Keep in mind that peanut butter is high in fat and salt, so don’t give it to them too often!
This is meant to be a treat, albeit a healthier one than cheese.
If you plan on tucking into some popcorn and watching a movie, your parrot would love some too! Popcorn is a healthy snack that’s full of fiber.
However, make sure that your popcorn isn’t salted, sweet, or buttered. All of these toppings are unhealthy and can lead to health issues later. Go for air-popped popcorn or brands that don’t use any additives.
Parrots will devour sweet foods, but apples can be a sweet, yet healthy snack. Before you give them to your bird, make sure that you slice the apples well and remove all the seeds.
Apple seeds have arsenic within them, which can silently kill your beloved bird.
Parrots love peanut butter, so most of them will love peanuts too! If you can find unsalted peanuts, treat your bird to a few of these.
Do make sure that you don’t give them salted peanuts, as sodium can cause many health issues. Unsalted peanuts are also full of fat, so make sure that you don’t give your parrot too much.
Berries are full of vitamins and antioxidants that are perfect for your parrot! They’ll love the endless options, including blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries.
Remember that berries are fruit, but they still contain sugar. Your parrot may love berries, but you should still only feed them in moderation.
Parrots can’t digest dairy, so you should never feed them cheese, not even a little bit. Some cheeses, such as mozzarella and cottage, can cause deeper health issues, like intestinal blockages and nervous diseases.
It’s best to be on the safe side and give your parrot healthier snacks instead. Peanut butter, apple slices, and popcorn are all tasty treats for your parrot that shouldn’t cause any health issues.