If you're a first time owner of an Amazon parrot, you might be surprised to learn this species has a tendency to put on weight when kept in captivity. This may be due to a high-fat diet and being confined in a cage with minimal opportunity for exercise. You can combat this by adhering to a few simple guidelines, such as modifying your pet's diet and providing plenty of exercise on a daily basis. While diet and exercise play a key role in preventing Amazon obesity, there are other smart ways to ensure a healthy weight for your feathered friend.

Health Issues in an Overweight Amazon

An overweight parrot may suffer from health issues, including impaired liver function. Fatty liver disease, properly known as hepatic lipidosis, may be potentially fatal if not treated early. An overweight Amazon parrot may also develop fatty masses on the legs, making it difficult to perch comfortably. To prevent health risks and help your pet maintain a healthy weight, follow these three simple guidelines:

1. Cut Back on High-Fat Foods

Most Amazon parrots have a hearty appetite. Unfortunately, many favor high-fat sunflower seeds over healthier choices. If your parrot's diet consists primarily of seeds and nuts, essential nutrients may be lacking.

Additionally, some seed mixes and many types of nuts are high in fat and calories. It's best to limit seed to no more than 10 percent of your bird's total diet. A formulated pelleted diet has the nutrients your parrot requires, without the excess fat. Also, offer healthy snacks to your parrot, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

You should introduce the healthy food choices gradually. It may take time for your pet to accept new foods, so simply mix a small amount of the pellets with the normal diet. Gradually, increase the healthy pellets, while reducing the less favorable seed mix as your parrot becomes accustomed to the change.

2. Stretch Those Wings and Exercise

Don't allow your Amazon to become lazy by turning into a "perch potato". Allow your feathered friend at least 2-3 hours of daily activity and exercise out of its cage. If you choose to keep your pet's wings clipped and prohibit free flight, you'll need to provide another form of exercise. The best way to to this is with the use of a "parrot play gym" and varied toys, kept a bird-safe environment.

Swings, ladders and climbing ropes all provide exercise opportunities for Polly. Play stands often include hooks to suspend toys that allow your pet to exercise. Interaction between parrots and owners is another good idea. Perch your parrot on your hand as you move your arm up and down, allowing the bird to flap its wings vigorously.

Fully flighted parrots may be allowed to fly within a confined area. Before you allow your bird to take flight, be sure the area is "bird-proof". Turn off ceiling fans and remove heaters or appliances that may cause injury as your parrot lands. Always keep doors and windows closed whenever your free-flying parrot is out of its cage.

3. Monitor Weight With a Digital Bird Scale

A digital bird scale looks similar to a kitchen food scale, with one major exception. Bird scales typically include a wooden dowel or perch attached to the base of the scale. It's easy to obtain your bird's weight, either in grams or ounces, by placing your feathered friend on the scale perch. You should weigh your bird weekly and report changes in weight to your avian veterinarian.

You might want to keep a log or journal of your parrot's weight, dietary changes and favorite exercise and activities. In conclusion, go to websites and remember these golden rules of Amazon parrot care and you'll keep your feathered friend fit and healthy for years to come.