Dealing With FLD (Fatty Liver Disease) In Your Parrot

Are you trying to deal with FLD in your parrot? Here’s some of my experience and what my research conclusions.
In this blog:

  1. My FB Post – My update on Lorenza, my Yellow-naped Amazon with FLD (Fatty Liver Disease)
  2. Responses I received on FB
  3. Some Significant Findings
  4. My Conclusions & My Parrot’s Diet


1 My FB Post, An Update

The Lorenza Update:

Diet seems to really be helping her. When I first got her, she was slow, lethargic and her feathers were a bit drab.

Now she’s TROUBLE! LOL!
She climbs down her cage, over the poop guard, and down onto the floor. From there she goes where she wants, often to find something to bite at.

She’s peppy, vocal and wants pets! She’s like a real bird- OMG!

I feed her pellets, a few bites of scrambled eggs plus what she’ll eat out of my salad – Mandarin oranges, cranberries, carrots (sometimes)- rice…

She only gets seeds as an occasional treat.

I don’t know whether she can recover from FLD (Fatty Liver Disease) or if it’s permanent. I’ve heard different answers… LMK if you know!

2 And a few responses I received on the post:

Following because I’d like to know also. Beautiful bird! – SB

Me Too! – TZ


I had a bird pass from fatty liver disease… I’m guessing, since our liver recovers, hers very well may also once removing the high fat from her diet and eating clean. I know milk thistles lowers liver enzymes and flushes the liver in human but I have no idea what it would do for a bird. I also know it’s safe for dogs… you might want to do a little research and see! Blessing to you both!! – TT

3 Some Significant Findings (Source)


    • The enlarged liver may cause breathing difficulties as the organ compromises the body cavity space.
    • The bird’s abdomen may appear distended, and sometimes the liver is actually visible below the keel.
    • The bird may develop diarrhea, and the droppings may take on a more yellowish or greenish hue due to biliverdin being excreted.
    • Poor feather quality and changes in the feather coloration. In cockatiels, for example, the white feathers may take on a more yellowish color (doesn’t happen in white-faced cockatiels though). African Greys may develop red feathers in areas that are usually grey and feathers in eclectuses may turn yellow, orange and potentially red.
    • Dry itchy skin may also be an indicator of liver problem. Once the liver problems have been resolved, it takes a while for the itching to stop.
    • In some birds, soft areas around the beak occur. Birds may develop overgrown beaks and claws / nails.
    • End-stage liver disease: toxins build up in the bloodstream, resulting in central nervous systems signs, such as disorientation or seizures
  • Bleeding clotting problems may occur. A simple broken blood feather may result in prolonged, life-threatening bleeding


Supporting a Healthy Liver through Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle:

    • Restorative sleep is crucial as it helps promote healing, including helping a liver rebuild itself. Patients (feathered or unfeathered) need extra sleep and plenty of rest to recover.
  • Diet: Your avian vet is likely to recommend changes to your pet’s diet.
    • It is important to change to an ORGANIC diet that is rich in fiber, low in fat and with reduced protein content . The liver should not be burdened with the pesticides that are typically found on conventionally grown produce.
    • The staple diet should consist mainly of fruits and vegetables with a good quality dry food mix (that doesn’t contain any chemicals, artificial flavors or colors). Foods to focus on are those that will help the liver detoxify.
    • Foods and nutrients that aid in the detoxification process include: Magnesium, Vitamin C, foods rich in Vitamin B2, B5, B6, B12, walnuts, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, citrus peel, egg yolks, garlic, red peppers, dark green leafy vegetables, animal protein, whole unprocessed grains, some legumes, and turmeric.Fiber is important for cleansing the intestines of toxins. Encouraging the consumption of fresh fruits and unlimited amounts of fresh vegetables adds fiber and nutrients.
    • Sprouted seeds are an excellent option. Sprouted seeds are lower in fat, as the process of sprouting utilizes the fat stored in the seed to start the growing process – thus reducing the fat stored in the seeds. Also, the texture is more vegetable-like, which may encourage a bird to begin eating veggies. Sprouted or germinated seeds are usually more easily accepted by “seed addicts” than fresh fruits and vegetables.
    • Do not feed peanuts or food items that could contain mycotoxins, which could further damage the liver.
  • Nutritional supplements that support liver function are:
    • It is suspected that there is a correlation between vitamin deficiency and the development of fatty liver disease; and nutritional support is essential for the treatment. The following supplements should be discussed with a holistic vet:
      • Choline, biotin and methionine. Biotin and choline (B vitamins). Choline is essential for fat metabolism. It helps prevent the deposition of fats in the liver, guarding against fatty liver damage. Animals with choline deficiencies have been shown to develop liver damage similar to that induced by alcohol in humans.
        • Foods that are high in choline are egg yolks, brewers yeast, legumes and whole grain cereals.
        • Sources of biotin are nuts, fruits, brewers yeast, and brown rice.
      • Methionine (an amino acid that is essential in transporting fats from cells) – can be found in: eggs, fish, meat and milk. However, do not offer any anything containing lactose, as birds cannot digest this sugar. However, lactose is almost entirely removed in the process of manufacturing of many cheese products, yogurt or cottage cheese, making those items generally safe for consumption by birds. Discuss the diet with your vet.
      • Milk thistle is very good support for a damaged liver. Your avian vet will decide if this is an appropriate therapeutic for your bird. Make sure that any milk thistle supplement does not contain ethyl alcohol as a base, as that can potentially intoxicate a small bird and alcohol can also further damage the liver.
      • Dimethylglycine (DMG) – an antioxidant – is also a good supplement for birds with liver damage.
    • The following supplements will help with detoxifying your birds: 
      The directions provided were (please discuss with your holistic vet):

      For seriously sick birds: mix 50/50 or 60/40 detox / spring water and provide as drinking. Please make sure your pet drinks it or else administer with a feeding syringe. Hydration is vital — so owner need to make sure that the pet takes in sufficient amounts of fluids. Place the water dish very close to where the bird is sitting. Keep the cage in a warm environment. If a bird is dehydrated and unable to drink on its own, use a small dropper or feeding syringe and place a few drops directly into the bird’s beak. Once normal hydration levels have been reached, you should see an improvement in your pet within 15 to 20 minutes. As soon as the bird is drinking on its own, stop administering directly.

      Detoxification in Well Birds: Breeders may provide Aloe Detox to their flock once a week to help with detoxification and maintain their health. Adding a tablespoon or so to two ounces of water will help maintain the health of the flock. Some breeders provide a 50/50 mixture (Aloe Detox / Water) once a week — besides helping with detoxification it also gets them used to drinking it so in case they have problems in the future, they will easily accept . However, if your birds appear to reject the detox, reduce the amount and gradually increase the ratio over a few days. Please note that Aloe Detox does spoil — so it is best to replace it with fresh water after a few hours – particularly on hot days. The manufacturer reports that Aloe Detox needs to be refrigerated (obviously). After opening, it will keep for 7 to 9 months.

      Some bird owners mix Aloe Detox in with juice to get their birds to drink it.

      Fresh gel from the leaves are superior to Aloe Vera gel bought commercially. Bird owners will cut off a small section each day and feed that section to their pet birds. The plant is easy to grow in most areas. It needs, however, to be grown organically — without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides.

      *NOTE: Even though Aloe Vera is helpful for many birds, some rare birds may have a reaction to Aloe Vera. Spray one of your fngers and touch your bird’s foot. Leave for 24 hours and see if an reaction occurs

      • How to Harvest Fresh Aloe Vera Gel – Tips on harvesting aloe vera
      • Aloe Detox – One recommended brand is “Lily of the Desert Aloe Detoxifying Formula.” It is available online as well as at better health food stores, such as Whole Foods. The manufacturer reports that Aloe Detox needs to be refrigerated (obviously). After opening, it will keep for 7 to 9 months.
        • Birds with advanced liver disease that have been given only weeks to live by the vet turned completely around after daily administration of Aloe Detox by the owner. A holistic vet recommended “as much of Aloe Detox” as the owner could get the parrot to drink. In that case, it was 1/2 oz three times a day (it was a larger parrot) – dilution: one part Aloe Detox to three parts water. (Owner used filtered / distilled water). After three weeks, the parrot’s blood work was completely normal and the parrot lived many years afterwards. If a pet doesn’t want to drink it, soaking a pet’s favorite “birdie bread”, whole grain toast, or favorite treat might be a good way to administer it. A vet recommended not to give Aloe Detox for extended periods – only when detoxification is needed; no longer than 3 weeks. If administered in drinking water, some birds who might not like the taste, may stop drinking! Make sure your pet stays sufficiently hydrated. Discuss a treatment program that is right for your pet with your holistic vet.

        One bird owner described her experience with her dying canary. The prescribed medications caused the canary to get worse, rather than better. She researched Aloe Detox and decided to stop any prescribed medication and take the holistic route. She administered Aloe Detox and the canary gradually improved and completely recovered.

      • Herbs that are conducive to maintaining liver health and even reversing existing liver problems are: Psillium Husk Powder, Dandelions and others.
        • Milk thistle is a liver-supportive herb. It’s best to discuss with your vet whether it is appropriate for your pet. It is important to make sure that any milk thistle supplement doesn’t contain ethyl alcohol as a base, as alcohol can further damage the liver.
        • Alpha-Lipoic Acid has been used successfully for the maintenance of liver health and as a treatment for several toxin-related illnesses. ALA has been used extensively in Europe for years as a non-toxic nutrient to treat toxic conditions such as mushroom poisoning, diabetic neuropathy, and elevated liver enzymes. Another benefit of Alpha-Lipoic acid may be its ability to elevate the levels of glutathione (GSH).
      • Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) reduces the body’s ability to store fat, while promoting the use of stored fat for energy. Cattle and chickens that are fed grain, rather than allowed to feed in pastures, are low in CLA, which has caused a dramatic reduction in the amount of available CLA in the American diet in recent years.
        • Sources: Eggs, meat and dairy products. Note: Meat from grass-fed animals contain much higher levels of CLA than meat coming from grain-fed animals.

4 My Conclusions & My Parrot’s Diet

I’ve had several people ask what I feed Lorenza (YNA), since she is doing better and better.

Our veterinarian, Dr. Susan Clubb, diagnosed her with FLD (Fatty Liver Disease) around November of 2018.
I don’t know how severe her FLD was (in other words, how far along or how much liver damage). In part, this is because you can only see how the liver is truly doing by taking a biopsy, as I understood from the vet.

The vet perscribed milk thistle, calcium and asked about Lorenza’s diet.

Lorenza’s diet (same as all my parrots, small or large):

  1. Mostly pellets – pellets are always available to them. Pellets are supposed to make up about 2/3 of their daily diet, as per experts.
    My father is a veterinary university professor – he says that companies put tons of research into making healthy pellets. Dr Club agreed that pellets as the ‘main’ food is optimal. (She asked if Lorenza ate pellets, I said yes – I think I got lucky that she does).
  2. 1/3 Fresh food – Mornings are supposed to be best, the birds are hungrier.
    This is supposed to be fresh fruits and veggies. So, the pellets have -basically- everything the bird needs as far as vitamins, minerals and nutrition goes. Still, fresh veggies are good for them – my personal research (for human diets) leads me to understand that a body can not extract the vitamins and minerals from a pill (vitamin or supplement) the way it can from actual fruits and veggies.

    I offer my parrots (daily):
    -Cut spinach, carrots – I try to add a bite of bell pepper and/or a grain (rice, quinoa, oatmeal)
    Or (for variation) – warmed-up frozen veggie mix of peas, carrots & corn

    In addition, I sprinkle a supplement mix on top. I make this mix – it has ground egg shells (for calcium), flax seeds, chia seeds (I understand that these seeds are high in omegas that are good for balancing fat) and a multi-vitamin powder.

    In addition to this, I tailor things a big. Macaws and African Greys get some fruit and nuts (part of their daily diet, what they would eat in their natural habitats); also, Lorenza gets some scrambled eggs – which Dr. Clubb said was fine/good. I did notice that eggs provide vitamin B, listed as a nutritional supplement to support liver function (above). I offer some egg to the big birds too (like 1 to 3 beak-bites worth).

    Throughout the day, I give Lorenza what she’ll eat off my plate: Mandarin oranges, pomegranate seeds (wow, she stained my clothes, the floor! LOL), cranberries (I’m not convinced these are good for her…), sometimes carrots, quinoa – apple.

  3. Seeds – I’m a curmudgeon with these. I give them to my birds sparingly, as if they were dollar bills! They might each get 0 or 3 every day. While they do NEED some fat in their diet, I find that their pellets offer this. So, seeds are relationship-building treats or training treats.

I believe in keeping happy, healthy people and parrots in my home. We make exceptions and eat well, but we also work to keep everyone buzzing with energy and well-being!

My Conclusion?

Unfortunately, I think that once the liver has been compromised, it’s never as strong as it once was. Of course, this is relative to how ‘compromised’ it is. My vet told me that Lorenza would be on milk thistle and calcium for ever – indicating that this is a permanent diagnosis or one you have to manage for the rest of the bird’s life. Let me tell you, I hear milk thistle was super-healthy, so I got milk-thistle tea. There was no way I could drink it, not even with tons of sweetener in it! Lorenza seemed to feel the same way – it didn’t matter what treat I tried putting it on, she wouldn’t go near it!

Prevention, of course. That’s the best answer – but in our case, I adopted Lorenza (appx 10 years old) and she already had FLD. So, a good diet. It’s working – she’s a happier, more bird-like bird. Changing habits is hard – birds are stubborn- but I believe strongly in eating well both for myself and for her, so that’s what we do – in the easiest and most convenient ways possible for me. So, she avoids the spinach on my plate, as we share a meal.