There is no doubt that garlic packs fantastic benefits for humans and adds plenty of flavour to our dishes, but can parrots eat garlic?
Despite the nutritional value this food brings to the table, it contains certain chemicals. As much as these chemicals may not make your parrot fall dead off its perch in most cases, they’re still toxic and can damage its health in the long run.
Ultimately, parrots can be allowed to eat garlic, but only in small amounts. Some parrot owners have in fact fed it for years without any issue. However, because there are so many other fantastic foods for parrots, we personally don’t see any reason to feed fresh garlic. Birds’ digestive systems are different from humans; so while the human body can handle this food as a staple, parrots don’t do quite as well. If fed regularly or given in large amounts, it can cause damage to the health of birds like parrots.
In this post, let’s discuss in detail the question of “Can parrots eat garlic?” and figure out whether or not this allium should be avoided.
Is Garlic Safe for Parrots?
The thing with garlic is that its (dis)advantages are quite nuanced. For many animals (including dogs and parrots), it’s one of those foods that is definitely harmful in large amounts, but can have some health benefits in small amounts. Garlic is known to help combat high blood pressure, for example.
The problem is that garlic also contains Allicin, which is the chemical that gives it its characteristic odour. Allicin is a strong oxidant, which implies that it creates free radicals. These free radicals, in excess, can have severe negative effects on the health of your parrot. There is at least one study out there that discusses the death of a parrot that was fed large amounts of garlic on a daily basis. It likely passed away from a disease called Heinz body hemolytic anaemia due to the destruction of red blood cells.
In general, the symptoms of garlic toxicity are:
- Depression (the most common)
- Green urine discolouration
Heinz body hemolytic anaemia, which pops up in rare cases where too much garlic is fed over long periods of time, can in turn cause several symptoms. These include fainting, weakness, lethargy and the like.
Considering all of this, many parrot owners ultimately decide to avoid garlic entirely, although the choice is up to you.
The Benefits of Garlic for Parrots
More than just being an important culinary ingredient that helps to improve the flavour profile of our home-cooked dishes, garlic has been extensively proven to contain antimicrobial and antioxidant effects. This is to say that despite the relative toxicity of garlic, this food offers a lot of health benefits.
All of these benefits still do not answer the question of “Can parrots eat garlic?” It may not be ideal to serve as food, but can be given as a remedy and treatment for several health issues and diseases. This food has a long history of being used to fight infections caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
A homemade remedy of garlic can be administered when your bird is experiencing diseases related to the immune system. When your parrot generally seems “under the weather”, garlic can be worth offering in small doses.
Garlic has also been proven to be active against bacteria, and as such, will go a long way to protect important systems in your pet, such as the digestive and respiratory systems. A homemade remedy of garlic also helps to boost liver function. This remedy involves soaking a clove of crushed garlic in water (a minimum of 300 ml); then, you filter and squeeze some lemon juice into it.
It is advised that you consult your vet before giving any homemade remedy to your pet. Different diseases tend to show similar symptoms, and your vet will help you identify exactly what is really wrong.
Effects of Eating Too Much Garlic for Parrots
We have already established that garlic is both good and bad for your parrots. Moderation is key when it comes to parrots eating garlic. Generally, when eaten in small quantities, it does not cause any serious harm to your feathered friend. The actual harm comes the allium is eaten in large quantities or regularly, as this can be dangerous to parrot health.
Should you have any concerns as to whether your parrot has accidentally consumed lots of garlic, the first recommended step to take is to contact your avian veterinarian.
You also want to seek immediate medical attention if your bird shows signs of distress, like diarrhoea or vomiting.
Is The Smell Of Garlic Bad For Parrots?
The smell of garlic is not at all bad for parrots. However, if you’re chopping or cooking garlic, you should keep your parrot in its cage. They shouldn’t be in the kitchen while any activity is going on: way too many dangers like hot pans, knives and potentially toxic foods are present.
If you don’t keep your parrots in a cage, you should be careful to keep any food with garlic out of their reach. You don’t want your parrot flying around and snatching a clove of garlic to eat.
Can Parrots Eat Garlic Bread?
No, parrots should not be allowed to eat garlic bread. More than just the presence of garlic, garlic bread, which is highly processed, contains a number of unsuitable ingredients for parrots. These include refined flour, butter, and salt.
Bread, no matter the type, is generally not recommended for parrots unless it’s a few crumbs here and there as a treat.
We recommend just sticking to a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet for your bird. Garlic bread is not on the list of healthy foods. The combination of toxic ingredients from garlic and heavily processed foods such as bread is a terrible one, and it’s better to avoid them.
Can Parrots Eat Dried Garlic?
Small amounts of dried garlic should be fine for your parrot. Do remember that it will still contain some of the same chemicals that make it harmful in large amounts. Also dried foods can be more concentrated than fresh ones.
If you do choose to include garlic powder in your bird’s diet for its health benefits, make sure to only offer small amounts.
Can Parrots Eat Cooked Garlic?
It is true that cooked garlic contains lower levels of toxins compared to raw garlic. So can parrots eat garlic if it has been cooked? Well, although you shouldn’t go ahead and offer a bunch of cooked cloves, your parrot won’t keel over if it takes a bite from a meal that happens to contain a bit of garlic.
Can Parrots Eat Garlic Pasta?
No, parrots can’t eat garlic pasta. The pasta still contains large amounts of garlic, which we have decided is harmful to parrots if consumed in large quantities.
The pasta itself is not also a good nutritional choice. The sauce most likely contains a high level of sodium, which is not healthy for parrots. If you want to feed pasta to your parrot, it should be plain and unsalted.
Other Foods Parrots Can’t Eat
While most parrots are omnivorous and enjoy a variety of fruits, vegetables, and meat, there are some foods that should be avoided. Although some of these foods may not be toxic or harmful, they can lead to stomach upset and dietary imbalances.
- Raw Meat
- Saltine Crackers, chips and the like
- Raw or undercooked beans
- Non-human grade peanuts
- Onions (garlic’s bigger cousin)
How to Feed Garlic to Parrots
If you feel like sharing some garlic with your pet, it should be done in moderation and with caution. As a rule of thumb, you want to feed your parrots garlic no more than once a week.
Generally, it is recommended that you crush the clove of garlic, immerse it in water, and allow it to stand for at least 60 minutes so that it makes an infusion. Bear in mind that you are not supposed to use this remedy for more than 3-5 days.
An alternative is to go for prepared parrot foods that contain small amounts of garlic. TidyMix offers garlic treat sticks, for example. There’s also the Tesoro Treat Mix by TOP’s, which has a little bit of garlic added.
In conclusion, there are quite a number of beneficial nutrients contained in garlic, and it is only natural that a parrot owner would want to share it with his or her feathered friend. This is where the question of “can parrots eat garlic?” comes in.
At the end of the day, garlic is not directly harmful to parrots. However, this food contains some toxic chemicals that can be harmful. Compounds such as sulphur can cause serious health problems for your parrot when consumed in large doses. If you’d like to offer it to your pet, maybe for medicinal purposes, it should be done in moderation. Give fresh garlic to your pet with caution and never as a part of its main diet.
Wade, L. L., & Newman, S. J. (2004). Hemoglobinuric nephrosis and hepatosplenic erythrophagocytosis in a dusky-headed conure (Aratinga weddelli) after ingestion of garlic (Allium sativum). Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery, 18(3), 155-161.