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The link between unwanted behaviours and unbalanced nutrition

Spreads for web Parrots 278 4

The Holistic Parrot by Leslie Moran

When concerns arise about any type of behaviour issues in parrots it seems that many avian veterinarians first consider using an antidepressant medication or a sedative like gabapentin. For people there’s a wonderful book called, “7 Weeks to Emotional Healing”, by Joan Mathews Larson, PhD. Holding a doctorate in nutrition, Larson has created a nutritional approach for healing depression, anxiety, paranoia, compulsive disorders, anger and violent aggressive behaviours in people. And for parrots there’s my book, “The Power of Nurturing With Food”. Because I love using food and balanced nutrition for healing our parrots. Let’s explore how we can benefit from the science behind using a nutritional approach for improving a variety of unwanted behaviours in parrots.

In the book, “Clinical Avian Medicine”, in Chapter 4, authors Greg Harrison, DVM, and Debra McDonald, PhD, explain the shortcomings of many diets fed to parrots. They begin by discussing a phrase coined by Harrison, called the ‘Improper Diet Cascade’. In Harrison’s experience when he examines a parrot and symptoms are present in multiple body systems, with the owner also being concerned about certain behaviour problems, Harrison suspects the ‘Improper Diet Cascade’ as the cause. According to Harrison, this type of diet can be highly individualised, but most commonly includes a mixture of dry seeds and table food, or some type of [random] homemade diet.

The ‘Improper Diet Cascade’ is commonly caused by nutritional imbalances in the diet and over-supplementation of certain nutrients in formulated [pellet] diets. Harrison points out that when evaluating nutritional related disorders it is important to consider the composition of the diet eaten as well as the stability or availability of nutrients in the diet. He further explains that: “The ‘Improper Diet Cascade’ is the result of improper nutrient utilisation, usually [caused] from malnutrition that weakens the body immunologically and structurally. This can then allow invasions of low level pathogens or those of viral, bacterial, or fungal origin [to infect the bird].”

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