With obesity on the rise, it’s no wonder our birds — which often share our table habits — are facing the same crisis. More than 60 percent of American adults are overweight or obese, and kids in every age group are getting bigger, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although no formal statistics exist to track pet birds’ weight levels over the decades, many avian veterinarians, behavioral consultants and others with long-term experience in the pet bird community, say pet birds are packing too many grams.
Of the noninfectious disease problems he sees in his avian-only Bird Clinic in Santa Ana, California, Larry Nemetz, DVM, cites obesity as No. 1. Obesity can lead to many other problems, including fatty liver disease. Because a bird’s liver is designed to store fat during times of starvation, it does an excellent job of retaining all those extra calories it isn’t burning off, Nemetz noted. Avian obesity can cause respiratory problems, too, because the internal fat level gobbles up space. You might also notice ulcers or sores on your bird’s feet from excess weight, or dull feathering and glassy eyes from vitamin deficiencies. A veterinarian might also look for type-2 diabetes and high cholesterol just as your primary care physician does at your annual exam.
**For the full article, pick up the June issue of BIRD TALK**
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