Vitamin A deficiency (also referred to as hypovitaminosis A) is one of the most common preventable diseases among pet parrots. Unfortunately, most owners remain unaware of their parrot's condition, allowing it to become progressively worse over time.
The parrot is then left vulnerable to bacteria and disease while their immune system struggles to keep up. If you own or are thinking of owning a parrot, you should familiarize yourself with vitamin A deficiency so you can protect your feathered friend from it. Luckily, a simple change in diet is usually all it takes to avoid this condition.
Vitamin A greatly affects the tissues that line the digestive, respiratory, and reproductive tracts. A deficiency in Vitamin A diminishes the mucous secretion ability in these regions, which renders them susceptible to infection by environmental bacteria. The respiratory system is the most commonly affected system.
Now that you know what this disease is and how it occurs, read on to find out what the symptoms are and the measures you can take to prevent it in the first place.
Symptoms of Vitamin A Deficiency
Although this disease does not present obvious signs right away, the astute parrot owner will be able to notice the symptoms as they start to appear, which include but are not limited to:
- Blindness at night
- Presence of white-colored plaque spots inside the parrot's mouth
- Swollen eyes
- Sneezing and wheezing
- Nasal discharge
- Dull-colored feathers
Note: If your parrot is suffering from any of the above symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with an avian veterinarian in your area.
There are other conditions which may trigger these symptoms, but Vitamin A deficiency is a serious condition that can may lead to death if left untreated. While the deficiency itself does not directly result in a parrot's death, the weakened immune system leaves the bird prone to secondary infections which may cause fatal organ damage.
Why is Vitamin A Deficiency Such a Common Problem?
The reason why it's such a widespread problem is because many owners -- especially first-time parrot owners -- choose to feed their parrots a strict seed-based diet, assuming it's a healthier choice than formulated pellets.
Don't get me wrong, certain seed mixes offer tons of nutritional benefit to pet parrots; however, they oftentimes lack essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A.
So, how are you supposed to supplement your parrot's diet with a healthy dose of vitamin A? Rather than feeding them a strict seed-only diet, perhaps you can mix in some premium pellets into the mix. Pellets are specially formulated to include a balanced blend of the protein and vitamins.
You can rest assured knowing that your parrot is receiving a healthy dose of vitamins with a premium pellet diet. In addition to pellets, feeding your parrot fruits and vegetables high in Vitamin A is a great way to make sure they get the nutrients they need to remain healthy.
Not All Pellet Food is the Same...
Pellets are a great way to add diversity to your parrot's diet, but don't assume that all bird pellet food offers the same nutritional value. Some of the cheaper brands on the market are loaded with filler ingredients and contain few (if any) vitamins.
If you're going to feed your parrot pellets, make sure it's a premium, reputable brand. It's not a bad idea to perform a quick Google search of the pellet food to see what other parrot owners have to say.
Teaching your parrot to eat and enjoy foods naturally high in Vitamin A such as yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, as well as dark leafy greens, is the most surefire way to prevent disease.
You can supplement your parrot's intake of Vitamin A with the following foods:
- Broccoli leaves & florets
- Sweet potatoes
- Dandelion leaves
- Collard greens
Make Vitamin A Deficiency a Thing of the Past
Now that you are fully aware of the causes and preventive measures for hypovitaminosis A, you will be able to implement the above steps to avoid this common, yet preventable disease.
Share this article with your fellow parrot owners to spread the word and to make Vitamin A deficiency a thing of the past!