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Can Parrots Eat Bread? What You Need To Know!

Sarah Psaradelis

If you have ever sat eating a piece of bread while your parrot stares at it with longing, you may be wondering if it is safe for them to eat. The short answer is yes and no, you can feed your parrot small portions of bread but it is not recommended. It should be organically produced, wholegrain and it should ideally be brown bread. Feeding your parrot bred should be kept at a minimum because bread contains high amounts of sodium.

If you would like to find out further information about the safety of feeding your parrot bread and any health issues that may occur, then carry on reading because this article has all the information you need.

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Is Bread Safe for Parrots?

Australian King Parrot
Image Credit: Buntysmum, Pixabay

Feeding your parrot bread will not harm or kill them. It can be classified as safe, but it is not completely healthy. There are many health aspects you should take into context before feeding your parrot bread. Parrots who suffer from kidney disease should not have foods high in sodium, which means bread should be excluded from their diet. Parrots that have food allergies over nuts, carbohydrates, grains, and any other gluten-rich foods, bread should not be fed at all as it can cause a flare-up to occur that requires immediate veterinarian treatment.

Bread has a low nutritional value that is not beneficial to parrots. White bread especially is over-processed and contains little to no nutrients for your parrot in comparison to whole-grain, brown bread.

Bread acts as an empty filler and dry chunks of bread can increase the risk of your bird choking. Some birds also struggle to digest bread which can cause a range of other health issues.

So, well it is safe to feed your parrot bread, the risks and potential health problems that bread can induce in parrots should be taken into consideration to determine if it is a good option for you to feed your parrot, even in small amounts.

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Bread vs Toast for Parrots

grain bread
Image Credit: Manfred Richter, Pixabay

Toast is slightly different than bread, it has been through a heating process that causes the bread to become dry and typically blackened or brown on the surface. There is an ongoing worry that the burn or crispy pieces of toast have certain carcinogenic potential. The main ingredient that can pose a risk to parrots who eat toast is acrylamide which is a compound found in starchy foods once they have been cooked. Animal studies have shown that consuming large amounts of acrylamide may cause cancer. Although in comparison to the weight of humans and parrots, small amounts are likely to affect them more quickly and in smaller amounts. It is better to stick to feeding your parrot bread that has not been altered before feeding. Bread that has been kept in the heat or fridge should not be fed to parrots as it may contain mold spores.

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Parrot Nutrition Information

Quacker Parrot on the branch of the tree_Mark Caunt_Shutterstock
Image credit: Mark Caunt, Shutterstock

The key element for a healthy parrot’s diet is keeping it as natural as possible. In the wild, parrots eat a wide variety of foods from seeds, nuts, grains, vegetables, and fruit. These foods should be replicated in a parrot’s captive diet to ensure optimal nutrition.

The main component of a parrot’s diet should consist of a balanced pelleted diet, with nuts and seeds added according to the species of parrot you keep. Fresh fruit and veggies should be fed as a dietary addition a few times a week. Treats like bread, bird treats from a pet store, and human-based foods should be fed sparingly and no more than once a week.

Parrot dietary percentage:

Pellets and complete parrot diets: 50 – 60%
Seeds, nuts, and grains: 15 – 25%
Fruits and vegetables: 10 – 20%
Treats: 5 – 10%

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Does Feeding Bread Make Parrots Sick?

bread
Image Credit: Couleur, Pixabay

Unfortunately, it can. Parrots have sensitive stomachs and digestive systems and if they eat a large portion of foods they have never previously been introduced to, can cause them to fall ill. Typically, it is not severe, but veterinarian treatment is essential.

A parrot is likely to fall ill from large amounts of bread within a few months. The risk increases if the bread is white or has been toasted. Since bread is nutrient-poor, your bird can suffer from a low immune system and weight loss. Bread is also filling and can cause your bird to refuse their staple diet. This can be harmful, and some birds may only want to eat bread because it tastes nice. If you are worried that your bird has become picky with their food after eating bread, you should not cause further severity to the situation by continuously giving them bread to keep them satiated. Rather get an opinion on how you can control your parrots’ eating habits from a qualified avian nutritionist.

Birds that have been fed a diet high in gluten and starch have an increased risk of developing malnutrition and several diseases relating to dirty and soggy bread. Another worry among parrot keepers is that when bread gets wet, it starts to expand and can lead to deadly bacteria growing inside of your parrot’s digestive system. Bread also acts as a laxative (due to the bicarbonate of soda which is a common ingredient in bread) in parrots and increases the amount of waste they produce. This causes the cage to foul quickly and increases the likelihood of bacteria accumulating inside of the droppings.

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How to Prepare Bread for Parrots

Blue Quaker Parrot
Image Credit: V.S.Anandhakrishna, Shutterstock

If you do want to go through with feeding your parrot bread, finding a good type of bred and feeding the correct portion is important.

Brown, grainy, and organically produced bread is the best option for parrots. It contains the least amount of chemicals and preservatives which can be harmful to parrots.

Prepare Bread for Parrots:
  • Check the ingredients on the brand of bread you are feeding. The ingredients should look organic and contain little to no preservatives and colorants. Avoid bread that’s labeled as ‘toaster bread’ because it typically contains too many chemicals that have no place in a parrot’s diet.
  • Keep the bread fresh and out of a humid area in the household. It is better to feed your parrot bread a few days after you have bought the load. This guarantees the freshness of the bread.
  • Place the bird on a small ceramic dish where they can comfortably eat the bread. Do not add butter or other bread toppings to your parrot’s bread.
  • Monitor your parrot’s behavior when they are eating the bread, some parrots will try to put the bread in the water bowl before eating it, which only adds to the risks.
  • Remove the bread from your parrot’s cage within 20 minutes. Do not keep leftovers in the cage and do a partial clean to ensure that no bread is left in the food bowl, water bowl, or on the floor of the cage.

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How Much and How Often Can Parrots Eat Bread?

peanut butter on bread
Image Credit: Shutterbug75, Pixabay

You should not feed your parrot too much bread. The portion of bread you are going to feed should be no larger than your natural thumbnail. Avoid feeding your bird an entire piece of bread, or even a quarter. The bread will expand in your parrot’s stomach and cause illness.

Birds should be fed a small piece of bread every two weeks. The key to feeding bread to your parrot is feeding it sparingly and in small portions according to the size of your parrot. Your parrot should not be fed bread too often, but rather a mixture of treats to ensure that their diet is kept balanced.

Your bird should be slowly introduced to bread if it is a new inclusion to their diet. Feeding parrots a new food suddenly can cause stomach pain and nutritional issues. Your bird’s behavior should be monitored closely after they have eaten a new and unnatural food.

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Conclusion

While bread can be deemed okay to feed to parrots, it should be avoided or fed as a rare treat. The risks are not always worth how much your bird enjoys eating bread. If it is fed correctly and your avian veterinarian has deemed it safe for your parrot to eat, then the risks of your parrot consuming bread are reduced.

When in doubt, it is recommended to speak to an avian nutritionist to get advice on the type of foods and treats your species of parrot should be eating.


Featured Image Credit: KS.studio, Shutterstock

Sarah Psaradelis

Sarah resides in South Africa with her partner and pets. She is currently interested in veterinary science and ichthyology, which she wants to study alongside her main passion: pet content writing. Sarah has over 60 fish including: goldfish, tropicals, shrimp, and snails. She also keeps hamsters and a tarantula. Sarah wishes to provide quality content for readers and allow others to learn from her knowledge and experience. Sarah has much experience in all aspects of pet care. Providing the world with the knowledge on ethical pet ownership is her lifelong dream.