Obesity is a common condition in companion birds and occurs when they consume more calories than they can expend over an extended period of time. Lack of flight activity and a diet rich in fatty seeds, like sunflower seeds, are common causes of obesity. Your bird could be obese if its body weight exceeds the normal body weight (within normal variation) for its species by 15 percent or more.
Here’s how to tell if your bird is overweight
Take a minute to perform a quick home exam. Start by noticing your bird’s stance. A wider than normal stance can be a sign of obesity. Next, check for a small roll of fat, a “double chin” visible under the beak. Also, look for small yellow or white fat deposits in the abdomen, along the flanks, inner thighs, upper breast and crop area. Finally, check for any bald patches where feather tracts may have separated due to fat under the skin.
You can also weigh your bird
To do this at home, use an electronic scale that measures in grams, not ounces, to detect small changes. Of course, the best way to be sure is to have your pet weighed and examined by your avian veterinarian.
Health risks associated with obesity
Obesity increases your bird’s risk of developing many serious diseases including heart disease, liver disease, fatty tumor formation (lipomas) and respiratory distress during exercise and play. Obesity is also associated with abnormal feathering, egg binding and infertility.
What you can do
If you suspect your bird may be obese, see your veterinarian for a complete and thorough physical examination as well as advice on how to change your bird’s diet to a healthier one. Along with more exercise, converting your bird from a seed only diet to a more nutritionally balanced diet that included pellets could be the answer. Remember that any weight-loss regimen for your bird should be done with your veterinarian’s guidance.