Vitamin A deficiency information [parrot health]

Vitamin A deficiency Information [Parrot Health]


Vitamin A deficiency, hypovitaminosis A,  is the most common issue in birds which goes unrecognized and on top of that, is preventable and easily treatable. 


Vitamin A





Before we go into more details, first we need a better understanding of Vitamin A and why it's so important and causes so much damage if absent. 

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps grow and repair tissue. This antioxidant also helps to function eyes, skin, hearing, bone, and membranes.  


Vitamin A deficiency can cause tissue damage in the respiratory, digestive, and reproductive tracts. This deficiency causes cells to undergo changes that prevent the secretion of mucous, and therefore destroying barriers that prevent bacterial infections. 


Lack of Vitamin A causes bacteria, fungal, and virus infection because vitamin A is needed to produce mucous which is a layer of protection against the pathogen. So if your parrot has a vitamin A deficiency, it will not produce mucous, which will cause reoccurring infections. 


Vitamin A deficiency in birds is a direct cause of inadequate diet. Only seeds diet, no fresh food, causes vitamin A deficiency in parrots because seeds don't contain vitamin A.  Even when seeds are enriched with vitamins, the parrots eat the seed inside the shell, not the whole shell. Most vitamins add in seeds, only sit on top of the shell, and aren't consumed. 



Why is Vitamin A deficiency an issue with parrots?


Because parrots require as much Vitamin A as humans, daily. Humans daily allowance for vitamin A is 2400 to 5000 IE a day; for parrots 2000-4000 IE per kg body weight. Therefore, per kg of a parrot, a parrot requires as much vitamin A as a human.



Signs and symptoms of vitamin A deficiency:


Symptoms of vitamin a deficiency




Treatment of Vitamin A Deficiency

Treatment of Vitamin A deficiency relies on the severity of the infection caused by the vitamin A deficiency. 

Your vet will perform CBC and cultures to get a better understanding of the case. From the cultures, a specific antibiotic medicine can be given. The first step is to deal with the secondary infection because the infection causes death, and damage to internal organs. After an injection of vitamins can help boost vitamin A. 


In some cases nostrils must be physically unplugged, then nasal flush with antibodies. Surgical lancing of abscesses might also be needed. 



 Prevention of Vitamin A Deficiency


No, not supplements. An adequate diet. Supplements can do more harm than good. The best way to ensure your parrot's well-being is by providing fresh food daily. There are many fresh foods with high amounts of Vitamin A. 

Here is a list of parrot safe food which are high in Vitamin A.
Vitamin a Chart




Over Supplement of Vitamin A (Hypervitaminosis A)

It's not well documented, however over supplement of vitamin A could be toxic in birds. In animals, over-supplement could lead to bone abnormalities, liver damage, and or kidney damage, etc.  This is the main reason why supplements aren't the best idea. Overdosage can cause issues that vets and researchers are not familiar with until more research is done.


Reference: 


Roudybush, TE. Nutrition. In Altman, RB; Clubb, SL; Dorrestein, GM; Quesenberry, K (eds.). Avian Medicine and Surgery. W.B. Saunders. Philadelphia, PA; 1997.

Rose Essex, RAHT. 25 years of experience in exotic and avian medicine.



Vitamin A







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