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Can Parrots Eat Bread? Vet-Reviewed Feeding Facts

Sarah Psaradelis

By Sarah Psaradelis

bread

Vet approved

Dr. Alice Athow-Frost Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Alice Athow-Frost

Veterinarian, BVM BVS MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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A healthy and natural diet is essential for your parrot’s well-being, and this diet varies considerably depending on which species of parrot you have. There are over 400 species of parrot within the order Psittaciformes and they each have their individualities when it comes to nutrition.  In most captive parrots, a diet of 60% pellets (specifically formulated for parrot species) and 40% other foods, including fruit, vegetables, pulses, nuts and berries is recommended. There is a long list of foods that parrots can eat, and bread is one of them. However, it is not recommended due to its high sodium content, empty calories, lack of nutrients, and the possibility of toxic additives.

If you are wanting to feed bread to your parrot, this article will discuss whether it is safe and the potential risks to consider.

bird divider

Is Bread Safe for Parrots to Eat? Risks and Safety Considerations

In most cases, feeding small amounts of bread to your bird will not kill or harm them, but it is not classified as a healthy option and therefore is not recommended.  Bread often contains a large amount of salt which isn’t healthy for birds, particularly those with certain health conditions.

Some bread contains harmful additives like chocolate or spices, which are highly dangerous and sometimes fatal for parrots.  Any bread with added flavors should be avoided.

Bread is not very nutritious for parrots and acts as an empty filler, reducing a parrots appetite for other, more nutritious foods. Let’s look at the risks in more detail, below.

bread
Image Credit: Couleur, Pixabay

Difficult to Digest

While it can seem tempting to offer your parrot the same breakfast or lunch you eat, processed human foods should not be on your parrot’s menu.  Most types of bread are high in sodium, complex carbohydrates, and fiber which parrots may have difficulty digesting. In the wild, parrots would never come across bread.  They have sensitive digestive systems and cannot handle too many processed foods in their diet.

Too Much Sodium

Excess sodium can be detrimental to your parrot’s health and can put them at risk of dehydration as well as exacerbating kidney problems. Even low-sodium breads can contain too much salt for parrots to eat regularly or in large quantities.

Choking Hazard

The chunky texture of bread can be a choking hazard for many parrots. Parrots don’t have teeth, and the sticky texture of moistened bread can be a danger for them.

Toxicity

Certain types of bread can be toxic for parrots to eat and should be avoided. Harmful additives in bread such as spices, flavorings, and chocolate are toxic to parrots. If your parrot has eaten something toxic, they should be taken to an avian veterinarian immediately.

sliced bread
Image Credit: BRRT, Pixabay

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What Types of Bread Can Parrots Eat?

Although not recommended by avian specialists, if you are giving your pet bird the occasional bit of bread, the safest types are whole-grain options that are low in sodium and sugar. You want to avoid feeding them highly processed breads with toppings or harmful additives.

Safe
  • Rye bread
  • Whole-grain brown bread
  • Sourdough bread
  • Whole-wheat brown bread
Unsafe
  • Burnt toast
  • Processed white bread
  • Chocolate or flavored breads
  • Banana bread
  • Seasoned bread
  • Bread with toppings, such as butter
  • Bread with sweeteners such as xylitol (assumed to be toxic to birds due to its toxicity in dogs)

Parrot species vary in their eating habits; some are frugivores, some are granivores, and others are omnivores.  Depending on their feeding strategy, wild parrots eat a varied diet consisting of some or all of the following; seeds, nuts, fruit, nectar, vegetation, and insects.

A commercial pellet food formulated for the species of parrot you keep should be their main source of nutrition. Their commercial diet should be supplemented with fruits, vegetables, nuts, sprouted pulses and berries, which are much healthier alternatives for parrots than bread. Bread is particularly high in carbohydrates and calories for a bird, which will make your parrot feel full without providing many nutrients.

Rye Bread
Image Credit: Jumpstory

How Much Bread Can Parrots Eat?

Parrots should not be offered bread but if they are, it should only be a very small, bite-sized piece.  The size and amount of bread your parrot can safely eat depends on their species. Smaller parrots should only be offered a piece of bread the size of a pumpkin seed. Larger parrots can eat around half to a quarter a teaspoon of bread.

bird divider

Conclusion

Bread is not a recommended part of a parrot’s diet, due to its high sodium content and lack of beneficial nutrients. A parrot’s diet should be low in processed human foods like bread, so be cautious about how much bread you offer them, if any. Aside from being a choking hazard, bread can be difficult for parrots to digest and contains sodium and sugar which is not good for them.

There are plenty of healthier alternatives for parrots, such as fresh fruit and veggies.

See also:


Featured Image Credit: seniatram1, Pixabay

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