Obesity & Hyperlipidemia
Amazon parrots, particularly blue-fronted Amazons, and Quaker parrots are very prone to a condition known as hyperlipidemia. This means that there are high levels of fat in the blood, particularly some fats that are known to be harmful and lead to life-threatening conditions such as atherosclerosis. The harmful fats are the same as with humans: cholesterol, LDL (low density lipoproteins), and VLDL (very low densitity lipoproteins). Once these fats have started to accumulate on the inside of blood vessels, the condition known as atherosclerosis, they can cause inflammation. Over time, chunks of fat and debris may break away from the lining of the blood vessel and cause strokes or sudden death.
The most effective management program for a parrot with hyperlipidemia is diet and exercise. A low fat diet should be fed and limited so that the amount of calories eaten every day encourages weight loss in a steady manner. It is appropriate to target a 5 to 10% weight loss over the first one to two months on a diet. Regular exercise, such as encouraging a wing-clipped bird to walk around the house or giving a flighter bird time in a large aviary, is helpful. A minimum of 15 minutes of exercise a day is recommended; increase the exercise time as the bird begins to become more physically fit.
Milk thistle may help reduce inflammation in the blood vessel. Many of these obese birds have compromised livers and which may benefit from milk thistle
A blue-fronted Amazon with chronic obesity and hyperlipidemia demonstrates the impact of a low fat & low calorie diet in combination with daily exercise.
Kevin Wright and Jay Johnson
Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital, LLC
744 N Center Street
Mesa, AZ 85203