Parrots may be interested in drinking coffee if they enjoy its smell. Worryingly, all it takes is one small sip of coffee to make your parrot feel unwell.
Parrots shouldn’t drink coffee because it contains caffeine, and caffeine contains methylated xanthine, which is a stimulant. A parrot is at risk of seizures, heart problems, hyperactivity, and dehydration.
Even decaffeinated coffee contains 3% of the caffeine of regular coffee.
Do Parrots Like Coffee?
Some parrots like coffee, but it depends on their taste preferences. Birds will try anything once, even if they don’t enjoy the taste. Though, one sip is all it takes for coffee to cause sickness.
Coffee has a strong and distinctive smell, which puts most parrots off going near it. As coffee differs from anything in a parrot’s natural diet, it’s unlikely to regard it as something it can consume.
However, parrots that enjoy milk are drawn to lattes and milky coffees, as the creaminess of the milk lessens the coffee smell and flavor.
If your parrot seems interested in your cup of coffee, never offer it a taste.
Is Coffee Bad For Parrots?
As mentioned, caffeine contains methylated xanthine, a class of alkaloids. They stimulate the central nervous system and the heart, causing them to malfunction. Even a few sips can be lethal.
Coffee and caffeine cause the following health problems:
As described by VCA Hospitals, seizures are sometimes caused by toxic events, and caffeine is a common trigger. As the toxicity progresses, the parrot’s episodes become worse and more frequent.
When a parrot has a seizure, it’ll begin with a period of altered behavior.
Then, the parrot loses its basic muscle functions, becoming stiff with occasional spasms. Sometimes, the parrot loses its grip and falls to the bottom of the cage. This stage only lasts 5-20 seconds.
The final stage lasts hours and involves lethargy, exhaustion, disorientation, confusion, and restlessness.
As caffeine is a stimulant, it induces irregular heart murmurs.
Caffeine raises the blood’s adrenaline levels, increasing a parrot’s blood pressure, the force at which the heart works, and its heart rate. This forces the heart to work harder than is comfortable.
Not all parrots display signs of heart problems, but these are the most common:
- Difficulty breathing
- Abdominal distension
- Intolerance to exercise
- A blue tint around the eyes
Parrots with heart problems must be taken to a vet for emergency treatment.
Depending on how much coffee a parrot consumes, it may become dehydrated.
This is because the methylxanthines contained in caffeine are absorbed into the intestinal tract rapidly. The liver metabolizes the alkaloids before they’re passed out of the body through the parrot’s urates.
However, as coffee is a mild diuretic, the kidneys are affected as they need to work harder to flush out the caffeine from a parrot’s body, drawing on its fluids to do so.
As a result, many parrots experience dehydration and require extra water to counter the effects. If parrots refuse to drink, some fruits can boost fluid levels.
Many parrots are active birds, receiving energy from their everyday diet. As mentioned, caffeine is a stimulant, increasing energy levels by blocking the molecules that tell parrots they feel tired.
As a result, some parrots become frenzied once the effects of caffeine take effect. This leads to various behavioral problems, including aggression, destruction (including self-destruction), and stress.
Similarly, caffeine prevents parrots from sleeping properly, making them moody and irritable. Once-placid parrots may turn on their owners, biting and scratching them.
Harmful Added Ingredients
Coffee often has other added ingredients, such as milk, sugar, and sweeteners. These include:
Parrots shouldn’t drink milk often, as they lack the enzymes (lactase) needed to digest lactose.
Milk is also fatty, leading to weight gain. According to the MSD Veterinary Manual, a high-fat diet is directly linked to obesity and a shorter lifespan.
As a result, high-calorie drinks such as milk should be restricted. They increase your parrot’s weight and offer little nutritional value, making parrots more likely to experience vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Refined sugar is empty calories, causing parrots to gain weight. It’s also addictive. If parrots get a taste for sugar, they may reject pellets and other nutritious foods, leading to malnutrition and starvation. Sugar also impacts parrots in the following ways:
- It affects the immune system’s function
- More infections
- Results in weight gain and obesity
- Alters the brain’s biochemistry
- Encourages self-destructive behaviors, such as feather plucking
- Causes nervousness and stress
Sweeteners are made with artificial flavors, which can be harmful to parrots. While they contain fewer calories than sugar, West Park Animal Hospital describes how some sweeteners can cause:
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
- Stomach upsets
Sweeteners (aspartame, xylitol, and sucralose) have no place in a parrot’s diet and should be avoided.
Can Parrots Drink Decaffeinated Coffee?
According to the National Coffee Association, decaffeination leaves up to 3% of the original caffeine.
This means that a standard cup of coffee contains 95 mg of caffeine, while a decaffeinated coffee contains just 2 mg of caffeine.
As highlighted, even the smallest dose of caffeine is extremely harmful, especially for smaller parrot species, like budgies and parrotlets.
Also, you don’t want to encourage your parrot to get a taste for coffee by allowing it to drink a decaffeinated version, as it won’t understand the difference between the two.
If you want a healthy alternative to coffee, caffeine-free teas, such as ginger, chamomile, and rooibos, are preferred. Chamomile tea can enable parrots to sleep better.
My Bird Accidentally Drank Coffee – What Do I Do?
Upon noticing that your parrot has consumed coffee, take your bird to an avian vet.
There’s no specific medication for caffeine toxicity, but vets can flush the system with fluids. They may also make your parrot sick with an injection to remove all caffeine traces before the body absorbs any.
As there’s no benefit to parrots drinking coffee, it’s safer to enjoy your morning cup of Joe away from your bird. Piquing a parrot’s coffee curiosity could have life-threatening consequences.