Parrot Heart Disease Is Common. Your Vet Should Know This.

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When Alex The African grey died in 2007 at the age of 30, his death made global news. Alex succumbed to parrot heart disease that went undetected by his caretakers. Alex opened the eyes of many the world over with his amazing intelligence uncovered by Dr. Irene Pepperberg. What did not make big news was the cause of his death, atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis, often known as hardening of the arteries, leads to cardiovascular disease, and the most common cause of heart disease in parrots.

Why birds get parrot heart disease

Parrot heart disease often goes undetected until it is too late. A variety of factors contribute to conditions like atherosclerosis, such as poor diet and lack of proper exercise. No matter how active we think our birds are, they cannot get the kind of exercise their little bodies were born for.

One of the most controversial issues amongst parrot owners is whether to clip their bird's wings or not. While many breeders and veterinarians who service breeding communities still advise clipping, more responsible avian specialists have stood up to say, “In many instances we are doing a disservice to our clients and their pet birds if we automatically trim.”

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ParrotShop is a news and media website that collects stories, information and resources from around the web. Michaela Kennedy, online publisher and owner of the website, researches birds, both captive and in the wild, in order to support parrot rescues, wildlife rehabilitation and conservation, and promote awareness for parrots in need. Please visit and post comments and questions about parrot behavior, nutrition, and any other questions you may have about birds in our world. Thank you for visiting, and come back often!

3 Comments to Parrot Heart Disease Is Common. Your Vet Should Know This.

  1. My parrot cannot fly due to a spinal deformity. And his shoulder joints are almost permanently dislocated since hatching. He is happy and loving but cannot raise his wings up very high. I want him to live as healthily as possible. Exercise options are limited due to his handicap. Any ideas?

    We let him walk a lot but I can’t think of what else to do. He likes to flap his wings as much as he can but I think it pains him.

  2. Aw, Kabir, I’ll get back to you on this in a few days. You are WONDERFUL to be so understanding! The first thing that comes to mind is, any exercise is good exercise. The flapping may, in fact, be very helpful, despite the pain.

  3. When we first got our parrots we clipped their wings. We realized when one got outside and was still able to fly that it didn’t make much sense to us. They are no longer clipped, and not outside without an enclosure. It took quite a while to remove seed from their diet, although they do get safflower still, and have finally learned to love their pellets.

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