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Vitamin D Deficiency In Our Pet Bird

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for parrots, so it's important to make sure that they get enough of it. To properly care for your bird and keep them healthy, learn more about diet and Vitamin D intake from this resource.

Just like humans, birds need vitamin D for strong bones and a healthy immune system. However, vitamin D deficiency is a common health problem in pet birds.

Vitamin D deficiency in pet birds

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Reasons for Vitamin D Deficiency in Birds:

Two reasons why there is a deficiency, lack on direct sunlight and lack of vitamin D in food. Birds that are kept indoors with limited exposure to sunlight are at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency. A lack of exposure to sunlight, as vitamin D is produced in the skin when exposed to sunlight. Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D.

Birds that are fed a diet of mostly a vegetarian diet are also at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency. This is because veggies, greens, and grains are not a good source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is found in certain foods like fishes and fortified food which are usually not recommended for parrot.  Additionally, some medical conditions can lead to vitamin D deficiency, such as liver or kidney disease.

In nature, parrots would typically get vitamin D from insect rich diet and therefore your pet birds often need help obtaining essential nutrients like vitamin D. Most enrich food with vitamin D are liver, salmon, and eggs; however, meat products have been a controversial subject for parrot health. Therefore vitamin D supplements and sunlight is key.

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Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

There are several symptoms of vitamin D deficiency in pet birds. These include soft bones, weakness, muscle atrophy, and depression. If you notice any of these symptoms in your bird, it's important to take them to the vet for a check-up. Vitamin D deficiency can be a serious health problem, but it is treatable with sunlight and/or a change in diet.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your bird, it's important to take them to the vet for a check-up. Vitamin D deficiency can be a serious health problem, but it is treatable with sunlight and/or a supplement.

Importance of Vitamin D in Birds 

Vitamin D is essential for many aspects of health in our pet birds, yet vitamin D deficiency is a common problem. Vitamin D has an integral role in the body, one of which being that it helps to synthesize Calcium, a vital mineral to the body. Consequently, Calcium plays an important part in bone reinforcement as well as normal functioning of the nervous system and maintain mood equilibrium. A lack of these two minerals can be life-threatening in birds and potentially lead to mortality via organ damage or deformations of skeletal features. Furthermore, research shows that deficiencies of Vitamin D and Calcium may cause many painful diseases like autoimmune conditions and osteoporosis. To ensure a healthy bird it’s prudent that you take into account their dietary consumption of both Calcium and Vitamin D.

A common manifestation of vitamin D deficiency is the occurrence of mood disorders, which are known to increase the risk of feather plucking in birds. It is important for owners to make sure their avian companions receive sufficient levels of vitamin D from a balanced diet.

How to prevent Vitamin D in birds? 

1) Spending time in the sunlight 

2) Pellets ( use as a supplement) 

3) Vitamin D Supplement with vet recommendation

Aviary for Sunlight

An outside aviary is an excellent way to keep birds happy, give them sunlight, and safety. Aviary isn't for everyone and requires time, space, and money. However an aviary full of bird toys and perches is a great way for any parrot to receive sunlight and exercise.

If an aviary isn't in the cards, a flight suit for avians is a great way to take your bird out for a walk on sunny days.

Pellets and Vitamin D

Premium pellet diets are often have adequate levels of vitamin D for birds however this doesn't mean your parrot can't be deficient. This is due to a combination of birds having difficulty absorbing vitamins from their food, as well as diets without proper  fat. To absorb nutrients better it is important to supplement with Vitamin D3 and/or increasing fat intake.

Vitamin D Supplements

Vitamin D absorption needs fatty acids. So supplementation with vitamin D and fatty acids such as flax seed oil, red palm oil, and coconut oil will aid in the absorption of nutrients. Please ask your vet before starting any supplements and getting the proper dose for your parrot size, type and environment. 


Why I don't recommend UVA/UVB bulbs for birds

1) Studies have shown, the right amount of rays are short lived and bulbs only work for 30 days before you need a new one. This means your parrot needs to sit very close to a warm bulb for the light therapy to work. 

2) People's overuse of the bulb has caused some birds to be attached to their light without any shelter. Birds are forest loving animals with some direct sunlight but mostly live the shade of the trees. It's not healthy for parrots to have a bulb on for hours at a time, without escape.

3) Long explorers to bulb has caused blindness in parrots. This is due the face people left the lights on for hours, every day. 


More Articles on Bird Health

Vitamin A Deficiency in Parrots

Toxic Respiration Hazards for pet birds

Vitamin D Deficiency In Our Pet Bird

Understanding Feather Plucking in Birds


Monika Sangar
Co-founder of Prego Dalliance Sanctuary, Artisan of PDS Parrot Shop


PDS Blog presented by PDS Parrot Shop

Monika Sangar, the co-founder of Prego Dalliance Sanctuary, a 501c3 non-profit organization, uses these blogs to share her hands-on experience with parrots.

She is a designer and artisan at PDS Parrot Shop, and her craft can be viewed below. (click on icon)
pds parrot shop

PDS is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization (tax id #46-2470926) PDS parrot shop makes parrot toys to help fund our sanctuary, Prego Dalliance sanctuary, 501c3, non-profit. 


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