Parrots are curious creatures, so they may show an interest in drinking coffee if they enjoy the smell of it. Worryingly, all it takes is one small sip of coffee to make your parrot feel unwell.
Parrots should never drink coffee as it contains caffeine. Caffeine contains methylated xanthine, which acts as a stimulant. Your parrot is at risk of seizures, heart problems, hyperactivity, and dehydration after drinking a small amount. The milk, sugar, and sweeteners in coffee are also bad for parrots.
Caffeine toxicity in birds can be fatal. Even decaffeinated coffee contains a small amount of caffeine. To prevent sickness, never let your parrot drink coffee.
Do Parrots Like Coffee?
Some parrots like coffee, but it all depends on their taste preferences. Greedy 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 is so different from anything else in a parrot’s natural diet, it’s unlikely to regard it as something it can safely consume.
However, parrots that enjoy milk are drawn to lattes and milky coffees, as the creaminess of the dairy lessens the coffee smell and flavor.
If your parrot seems interested in your cup of coffee, never offer it a taste. This could give your parrot the taste for coffee, beginning a dangerous habit that could have deadly consequences.
Is Coffee Bad For Parrots?
As mentioned, caffeine belongs to methylated xanthine, which is 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 parrot health problems:
As described by VCA Hospitals, seizures are sometimes caused by toxic events. 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 will begin with a period of altered behavior called the aura phase.
The second phase is called the ictus. During which, the parrot loses its basic muscle functions, becoming stiff with the occasional spasm. Sometimes, the parrot loses its grip and falls to the bottom of the cage. It may soil itself. This stage only lasts 5-20 seconds.
The final stage can last for several hours and involves lethargy, exhaustion, disorientation, confusion, and restlessness.
As caffeine is a stimulant, it induces irregular heart murmurs. This is because the toxin 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 it’s capable of. 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 also affected during this process 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 for any reason, some fruits can boost fluid levels, including:
Many parrots are active birds, receiving all the energy they need from their everyday diet. As mentioned, caffeine is a stimulant, increasing energy levels by blocking the molecules that tell parrots that they feel tired.
As a result, some parrots become frenzied once the effects of caffeine kick in. 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 ingredients added to it, such as milk, sugar, and sweeteners. These include:
Parrots shouldn’t be allowed to drink milk too often, as they lack the enzymes needed to digest lactose.
Milk is also fatty, leading to weight gain. As described by the MSD Veterinary Manual, a high-fat diet is directly linked to obesity.
As a result, high-calorie drinks such as milk should be restricted. Not only do they increase your parrot’s weight, but they 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, leading to malnutrition and starvation. Sugar also:
- Affects the immune system’s function
- Promotes infections
- Leads to obesity
- Alters the brain’s biochemistry
- Encourages self-destructive behaviors
- 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 types of sweetener can cause:
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
- Stomach upsets
Sweeteners have no place in a parrot’s diet and should be avoided.
Can Parrots Drink Decaffeinated Coffee?
Despite the name, decaffeinated coffee contains small traces of caffeine. As highlighted, even the smallest dose of caffeine is harmful, especially for smaller species of parrots, such as 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.
If you’re looking for a healthy alternative to coffee, caffeine-free teas, such as ginger, chamomile, rooibos, are a better substitute and even have health benefits. Chamomile tea can enable parrots to sleep better.
My Bird Accidentally Drank Coffee – What Do I Do?
Upon noticing that your parrot’s consumed coffee, take your bird to an avian vet. There’s no specific medication for caffeine toxicity, but vets can flush out the system with fluids. They may also make your parrot sick with an injection to remove all caffeine traces before the body fully absorbs it.
As there’s no benefit to parrots drinking coffee, it’s safer for you to enjoy your morning cup of Joe away from your bird. Piquing a parrot’s coffee curiosity could have life-threatening consequences.