what to feed a sick bird

What to Feed a Sick Pet Bird

By Diane Burroughs

When your pet bird is sick, it can be a worrying time for any bird owner. Not only do you have to make sure that it gets the necessary medical care, but you also need to make sure that it's getting the nutrition it needs in order to get better. But what happens when your pet bird won't eat its bird food? This blog post will provide advice and tips on what to feed a sick pet bird when it won't eat its bird food.

How to tell if your bird is sick

If you have a sick pet bird, it can be difficult to get it to eat. If your bird is ill, it may not feel like eating its regular food or it may be too weak to eat. A sick bird that is not eating can quickly turn into a crisis because birds have such a high metabolism that they need to eat very frequently throughout the day. 

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 A sick bird should be kept in a stress-free hospital cage, which should be kept in a warm, quiet area of your home, away from stress and loud sounds. It is crucial that your sick bird doesn't get chilled because that can put it in shock. Keep the hospital cage at the right temperature with a heating pad or an infrared heat lamp.

It has been found that most pets can recover faster if kept at temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (22-25 degrees Celsius). The higher the temperature, the more motivated the pet is to eat, the better the digestibility of the food, and the more likely it is to resist infection when it is higher than normal. 

 Next, you'll need to hydrate your bird. Using a spoon, a medicine dropper, or a syringe, give your bird a few drops of water at a time. This will help to slowly restore your bird's energy levels and prepare it for food. To avoid dehydration, offer fluids every hour.

Don't forget to offer electrolytes as well! Electrolytes help prevent electrolyte imbalance which can happen when a bird doesn't consume enough fluids. Offer one teaspoon of Pedialyte every hour if possible. You also might want to offer vegetables or fruit juices as they contain natural sugars which will provide additional energy while keeping your bird nourished. Once your bird seems strong enough, try feeding it something small (like fresh fruit) and see if it eats anything; if not continue to monitor closely until the animal starts feeling better again.  

Try to feed your sick bird seeds or millet

When a pet bird becomes sick, it often loses its appetite for its regular bird food. In this case, it’s important to provide something more easily digestible and nutritious to get them back on track. A common food choice for sick pet birds is seeds or millet.  

 Seeds and millet may contain enough nutrients to give it energy. They also contain protein, carbohydrates, and fiber, all of which can be helpful in providing your pet with the necessary nutrition when they aren’t feeling well. Seeds and millet can also be easy to digest, so they may be more appealing to a sick bird than its regular food.

It’s important to note that while seeds and millet can be beneficial in certain cases, they should not replace your pet’s regular diet. Instead, they should be used as an additional supplement to help them get back on track. Seeds and millet should also only be offered in moderation, as too much of either can lead to obesity in pet birds.  

If you're unsure whether or not seeds or millet are the best option for your sick pet bird, you can try other options. The key is to encourage your bird to eat something without force-feeding it because stress can make things worse. 

Strained or soft vegetables

If your feathered friend won’t eat their regular bird food, then you may need to offer alternative food options. One option is to feed them strained or soft vegetables.  

 Strained and soft vegetables are great for birds that are ill and not feeling well. These foods are easier to digest and can provide much-needed nutrition. Soft-cooked vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, green beans, zucchini, and peas are all great choices. To make the vegetables soft enough for a sick bird, steam or boil them until they are very soft. Once the vegetables have cooled down, mash them into a puree and feed it to your bird.

You can also mix the pureed vegetables with a little bit of juice or infant rice cereal. This can add some necessary protein that can help your bird recover faster. As always, be sure to discard any leftovers after a few hours, since cooked food quickly spoils and can become dangerous for your bird.  

Baby food or rice cereal

If you’ve noticed that your pet bird is not eating its normal bird food or that it is losing weight, it might be because it’s not feeling well. In this case, it’s important to make sure your pet bird is receiving adequate nutrition, even if it’s not eating its regular bird food. One way to do this is to provide organic baby food that is rich in protein. 

Organic baby food is a great option for sick pet birds, as it typically contains the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that a bird needs to stay healthy. Some organic baby foods are fortified with extra nutrients and can provide your bird with the energy and nutrition it needs to get better. 

When choosing an organic baby food for your pet bird, look for products that contain high-quality protein sources such as legumes. Other protein-rich foods include a small amount of egg or egg substitute, tofu, or even nut butter. It is better to feed a small amount with higher frequency rather force feed a certain amount a few times a day.  

To reduce stress, choose organic baby food with veggies your bird already enjoys. Make sure to steer clear of sugary cereals, and instead pick plain, unsweetened varieties. Make sure to buy a few pouches before serving the preservative-free food. You may have to blend the pureed food with water to get it into a syringe.  

You should routinely treat your bird with syringes so that when it is ill it isn't nearly as stressed out when you offer it a syringe. 

Remember that when feeding a sick pet bird, it's important to keep them hydrated and provide them with adequate nutrition. Providing organic baby food or rice cereal can help ensure your pet bird is getting the nutrients they need while its body is healing. 

Ground up pellets mixed with fruit juice

When weakened or sick, a bird may not be able to stand on one foot and hold a pellet to feed itself.  

In such cases, ground up pellets mixed with fruit juice can be a great way to provide some much-needed nutrition and hydration. 

To create this food for your sick bird, grind up its regular pellets into a fine powder. You can use either a mortar and pestle or a food processor to do this. Even a rolling pin will do. Then mix in some fruit juice, such as apple or pear juice, to make a runny, paste-like mixture. Only make enough for the day and refrigerate any unused food.  

This food can be easily fed to your bird using a feeding syringe (without the needle) or with a spoon. This will prevent any risk of choking and ensure that your bird can consume the food. Slow and steady is the key. If you feed your bird too fast it may choke. Think in terms of drops. Feed a few drops once or twice an hour. It’s also important to make sure that the consistency is thick enough so that it doesn’t get inhaled by the bird while eating. 

It’s always best to consult your veterinarian if you are unsure about what to feed your sick pet bird. They can provide you with the best advice on how to keep your pet bird healthy and well-fed during times of illness. 

Easily digestible fruits

Mashed fruits are another great option for feeding sick birds as they are easily digestible and full of essential vitamins and minerals. 

Some of the best fruits to feed your sick bird include apples, bananas, grapes, mangoes, papayas, pears, and strawberries. These fruits can provide your pet bird with valuable nutrients without being too difficult for them to digest. Before feeding your bird these fruits, however, you should make sure they are cut into small pieces so they don't choke. For smaller birds, puree them. 

Another benefit of feeding your bird fruit is that it can help keep their water intake up. Adding some diced fruit to a dish of fresh water will entice them to drink more and stay hydrated.  

Finally, it's important to remember that fruit should only be fed to your sick bird in moderation. Too much can cause an upset stomach or other health problems. Be sure to monitor your pet's eating habits and adjust the amount of fruit you give them accordingly. 

In conclusion...

An unhealthy bird should be kept in a warm, stress-free environment, and it must be consistently nourished and hydrated. A bird that isn't nourished can die or suffer irreversible damage. Keep a close eye on your sick bird all day and feed it small portions throughout the day. If in doubt, consult your veterinarian. 

Related Posts:

Stabilizing a sick bird and when to see the vet.

8 ways to tell if your bird is sick and what to do about it

5 Important things to do for a sick bird


Supportive care for sick or injured birds

Beauty of Birds. Caring for a sick bird. Emergency Care.

Diane Burroughs, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist trained in ABA therapy techniques. She specializes in avian anxiety disorders and is certified in Nutrition For Mental Health. Diane has written a number of bird behavior books and she offers behavior consultations. She's developed a range of UnRuffledRx Science-backed Parrot Wellness Supplies.

Diane's products have been featured in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery and at Exoticscon, a conference for exotic pet veterinarians. Her bird collars & supplements are stocked in avian vet clinics and bird stores throughout the US. With over 30 years in the field of behavior, Diane has created thousands of successful individualized behavior plans that help pets thrive.

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