Choosing the Right Vet for Your Pet

4 Things Parrot Owners Need To Know About Hypertension

You probably know that hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a big problem for people, but you may not know that parrots can develop it, too. As your parrot gets older, they may develop this serious disease. Here are four things parrot owners need to know about hypertension.

Why do parrots develop hypertension?

Parrots get high blood pressure for the same reasons that people do: poor diets and a lack of exercise. Pet parrots frequently experience nutritional deficiencies and restricted exercise, especially when compared to their wild counterparts, and this puts them at risk of cardiac diseases. Fortunately, hypertension isn't inevitable, and with good care, your parrot can maintain a healthy blood pressure level.

How can you prevent hypertension?

To keep your parrot healthy, you need to make sure to feed them a healthy diet. Parrots need more than just pelleted food to stay healthy, they also need seeds and a wide range of vegetables and fruits. Here are the general recommendations for a healthy diet in birds:

  • 65-80% pelleted food;
  • 15-30% vegetables;
  • 5% fruits;
  • Seeds in moderation.

Parrots also need exercise to stave off hypertension. If your parrot is flighted, the easiest way to exercise them is to let them out of their cage and let them fly. If your pet's wings have been clipped, they can still get exercise by running around your house, climbing the bars of your cage, or flapping their wings.

What are the signs of hypertension?

Parrots with hypertension can be asymptomatic, so regular blood pressure checks are the best way to monitor your pet's health; this can be checked during your parrot's yearly checkups. Your veterinarian will use a tiny cuff to measure your parrot's blood pressure. This cuff is placed around their upper or lower leg, and then inflated to allow for a blood pressure reading. If your parrot is cooperative, you can hold them still during the test, but less-cooperative parrots will need to be anesthetized to allow the test to take place.

How do veterinarians treat hypertension?

If your vet discovers that your parrot has hypertension, treatments are available. Your parrot may be prescribed vasodilators, a type of medication that works by dilating their blood vessels and allowing blood to flow through more easily. 

If you're worried that your parrot may have hypertension, take them to a veterinarian, such as the Foothills Animal Hospital,  for a blood pressure check. If your vet diagnosed your pet with hypertension, medical treatments are available.