Tag Archives: birds

Natural Bird: creating a holistic lifestyle

natural bird

We have had so many wonderful innovative products that cross over from human holistic and herbal medicine quite easily to our furry friends (dogs and cats). But what about our feathered companions?

As many of you know, birds have very different and complex physiology compared to that of dogs and cats. They have often been referred to as “little dinosaurs,” because of their multiple air sacs, air-filled bones and extreme sensitivity to toxins of all types. Because of this, there has been hesitation and extreme caution in providing birds the herbs and supplements proven so beneficial for dogs and cats.

However, there are both supplements and modalities that are safe for your bird and should be considered when working with your vet, to provide your bird with nutrition and preventative health.


Essential Fats

While nut oils such as peanuts, cashews, pistachios and seeds of ALL TYPES are considered the “bad” type of fats for your bird, contributing in large part to fatty liver problems, your bird still needs essential fats. A safe fat that will give your natural bird  polyunsaturated fatty acids and balanced Omega-3, is from the red palm fruit (not seed).


Omnivorous Diet for the Natural Bird

The most critical part of your bird’s preventative maintenance /health is correct nutrition. Peanuts contain high amounts of mold toxins, which is now considered to be one of the big contributors to birds dying of liver disease (it’s not always just the “fat”).

All types of nuts and seeds carry this risk. No matter how “hard” it is, it is well worth it to take the time to convert your bird to an OMNIVOROUS diet. You can do this by starting with 1/3 of their “usual” food, 1/3 plain Cheerios, and 1/3 of the new organic pellet or crumble. I like Harrison’s, Roudybush and a few of the new non-seed based organic diets available. I do not recommend any other pellets out there.

protein for a natural bird diet


Make Sure your Bird Gets Enough Protein

If you are going to feed your bird whole foods, you must make sure the feed includes enough protein. Eggs whole or with a large percentage of egg white (cooked please, ideally organic), lean chicken and lean beef or fish, are all acceptable. This replaces the insect matter they would eat in the wild.


A Natural Bird Diet Consists of Vegetables

When you’re putting vegetables into your bird’s diet, make sure they are lightly steamed. Raw vegetables can be a turn-off and less digestible, although great beak work for the birds that love to tear them apart! Some great ones are Italian squash, yellow squash, broccoli and cauliflower. For the little birds such as cockatiels, budgies and even canaries/finches, you can hang a fresh sprig of cilantro or parsley EVERY DAY in place of millet. DO NOT FEED MILLET. IT IS LIKE POTATO CHIPS FOR BIRDS.

fruit to feed a natural bird


The Right Types of Fruit to Feed your Bird

If your bird is frugivorous (a fruit eater), use the higher nutrition fruits such as kiwi, papaya and mango. Avoid grapes and oranges. Apples provide excellent fiber and are best if organic. 

DO NOT EVER FEED YOUR BIRD CHEESE. Besides the fat, it can form an obstruction in the gizzard, which is life-threatening.



The Best Way to Provide Vitamin D to your Bird

Sunlight outdoors with no window/screen is the best source of Vitamin D. If not available, get a bird light (OttLite) and place it at least 18 inches from the cage turned on 8 hours/day.

Most birds are calcium deficient and that affects their CARDIOVASCULAR health. This is due to the above problems with Vitamin D, essential for the absorption of calcium. The best supplement is Calcuim Glubionate syrup, available at most pharmacies and used at a dose of 1-2 tsp. into 8 oz. of drinking water fresh daily. This can be used for life. It is only the birds taking excess vitamin D (toxic) that have any risks with this. I have never met a pet bird with Vitamin D toxicity.

natural bird


Holistic Treatments for Birds

You can also use natural treatments on your bird to decrease their future health issues. Most birds with arthritis or foot problems will not stand for acupuncture, no pun intended. But they do great with COLD LASER therapy. Ask your holistic vet about this option for birds, as there are very few medications they can take for pain. Alpha-wave machines can promote healing, calm and well-being in birds as well.

Flower remedies are excellent for birds that need calming (do not work very well with feather picking, which is a disorder often associated with liver and hormonal issues as well as nutrition and owner behaviors).

Chinese herbal formulas made in the US and in the right hands (no over the counters, please!) are excellent for healing.  Ask your holistic vet about this.

Antioxidants such as CoQ10 are excellent for heart issues. Curcumin is an excellent anti-inflammatory. Milk thistle and vitamin E, along with SAMe are in liver support supplements. An herb called Yunan Baiyaou is proving excellent to control bleeding in birds with inoperable bleeding tumors. There are prescription pharmaceutical quality preparations of all of these, and more, that can be scaled down for your natural bird.

PEA is a current cannabinoid that is a natural anti-inflammatory with no psychotropic effects. Compounding pharmacies do a great job of using palatable mixtures to help “get the supplements in” to your bird. Ask your vet for the formulation in the flavors and they can also let you know what your bird may prefer.

These are a few of the options available to help your natural bird. If they are on a great diet, get direct sunshine on a regular basis and have excellent supplements, you may never have to see a vet, except for the once a year checkup! Let’s put an end to a “crashing bird” that “seemed healthy” only a week ago. Let’s get them truly healthy NOW.

From the heart vet

If you are in the Santa Barbara area and you’re interested in getting your bird on a more holistic diet, I would love to hear from you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us by clicking HERE.

New Toxins to Watch Out For

Protect your pets

Returning from the largest veterinary conference in the country a few weeks back, I realized how important it is to share this information as soon as possible with you, so your pets stay safe and happy!


Learn the New Toxin Concerns for Your Pet

There are some new toxin concerns on the horizon, things you may not have known about until now. Below are some of the top toxins to watch out for if you have a dog, ferret, other curious pets or small children.


Mouse and rat poisons


It is the season where we sometimes see more of these little visitors around. Always seek natural pest control and talk to those companies when planning it will save your pet’s life.



Caffeine as a Prep item

Coffee and tea both contain amounts of caffeine that are toxic to pets and small children. Dropping bags and grounds or a foray into the trash can prove disastrous- remember to watch the waste!


Onions and chives


A known toxin to cats, onions causes the destruction of red blood cells in these felines. In anything more than the tiniest amount, onions-especially raw ones, are a danger for your pet.


Macadamia nuts


Although not in small amounts, these nuts can definitely be toxic and result in signs affecting the nervous system. In your dog, you would be on the look out for vomiting, tremors or their inability to walk. In fact, let’s just not feed the dog macadamia nuts!


Unbaked yeast bread dough


This likely doesn’t require explaining. It can expand in the stomach and cause severe distress and obstruction, even leading to death. Just remember the smell of that dough is as attractive to your dog as the fresh-baked smell is to YOU!




Pets are very sensitive to the effects of alcohol and do not have good “detox” mechanisms for safe ingestion. The ethanol in alcohol can damage the gastrointestinal tract, liver, brain, and kidneys. Please do not ever offer it to your pet and realize that mouthwash contains alcohol if spilled make sure to remove it from your pet’s access. This is not an issue with the tiny amounts present in herbal tinctures. Consult your veterinarian in all cases.




Unfortunately, we have heard a lot about grape and raisin toxicity lately. I believe the increased types and concentration of pesticides present on the skin make this even worse. Avoid feeding either of these to your dog. Your bird is best fed with organic versions of all fruits.



Xylitol Gum

Present in gum and candy, this sweetener is toxic to your dog.


Medications meant for humans

SI Exif
SI Exif

Sometimes you don’t realize a medication has spilled onto the floor. It is difficult for your vet to know what is going on if your pet ingests your medications-antidepressants, ibuprofen and ibuprofen-like compounds and decongestants are all potentially very damaging for your pet. Keep out of reach and watch for pills on the floor.




You didn’t think we’d forget chocolate, did you? Remember that the degree of toxicity in chocolate depends on its percentage of cacao the higher the percentage, the more pure or dark the chocolate, the smaller an amount is life-threatening to your pet.

For more information, call (805)350-1399 or email Fromtheheartvet.com. Please note there is also a new hotline out there, besides Poison Control, you may want to try Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661. Here’s to a safe and healthy pet!

Omega Fatty Acid: Wild for WildGold


So many of you have heard of the benefits of Omega fatty acids: the heart-health benefits, the joint benefits, and even youthful changes to our skin.

The Benefits of Omega Fatty Acids for Dogs

For our dogs, the most notable and needed benefits include anti-inflammatory actions on their hip and elbow joints, the wonderful softness to their hair coats and the anti-allergy benefits.


Not all Omega Fatty Acids are Good For Animals

But not all essential fatty acid supplements are the same. In fact, the wrong omega fatty acid source actually contains elements that are harmful to your pet, elements such as lead or other heavy metals. Fish oils were (and still are) the most commonly used supplements  because they are cheap and abundant for companies to obtain.

The other comment I get a lot from my clients is: “But my food has omegas in it, do I need more”?

These supplements that have been added to the food, even if a good, clean product, are simply not in a high enough concentration to do your pet good.

The truth is the anti-inflammatory effect of standard omega fatty acid (fish oil) supplements doesn’t “kick in” unless you give your pet approximately six times the recommended dose. The advent of green-lipped mussel oil and other supplements in that family made the pill size smaller, and there is definitely a higher concentration of synergistic compounds that are excellent for joint and skin health in the green-lipped mussel oil. Smaller amounts are thus needed for the desired effects and it’s easier to get your pet to accept them.

A New Vegan Omega Fatty Acid Supplement 

Lately, I’ve been excited and extremely pleased with the amazing transformations I’ve seen with a new omega fatty acid supplement. It is flavorless, free of any “fishy” smell, and it’s totally vegan (for those dogs that are interested)! It is made from a superior clean source of camelina oil, a plant-based supplement with no chance of toxins.

This new “miracle” omega supplement is called WildGold and is becoming wildly effective in making dogs feel young again! It is doing wonders for horses as well, and we believe it may help out older, arthritic rabbits.


I had been trying it out on several of my doggy patients, and keep receiving great feedback reporting softer coats, less itching and greater mobility of creaky joints.

I am very happy to finally find an oil that can be added to virtually any food and the doggies and horses LOVE it. If you have a rabbit, a bird or dog and you are interested in seeing the potential benefits of this product, give us a call at (805)350-1399.

Bird Health: How to Check if they’re Under the Weather


Assessing your bird for signs of being “under the weather” can be challenging, to say the least. First of all, birds are little wild animals. This means they are not like your dog, a domesticated pet that acts like a little kid when it’s sick.

Birds, on the other hand, are a prey animal. They do not exhibit signs of weakness as they have been taught this will alert a predator of a potentially available snack. So even though you have Polly safely in a warm, cozy house away from the jungle, her system only knows that masking illness could save her life. 

sick bird

Unfortunately, a pet bird concealing an illness may not get your attention until it is very, very sick. This is why when we as veterinarians see them, they are often in an advanced stage of the disease. It’s not really that they are all that delicate, as it may seem. I hear this a lot from bird owners, “He just got sick yesterday, doc, and now you are telling me he is dying?”  Most likely your little-feathered friend has been braving through their health problem for quite a while, and finally, couldn’t “fake it” anymore.


Some things you should know in order to detect illness EARLY in your bird, and when it’s time to bring him/her to the vet:

1. When you first get a bird, BRING IT TO THE VET as you would a puppy or kitten. No matter what the pet store or breeder says, there is no way to assess its health without a qualified avian vet’s professional evaluation.


2. NEVER put a new bird in with other birds before quarantining and taking it to the vet for a clean bill of health. I have seen more than a few incidences of a single new bird causing disease in an entire flock that was previously healthy.

3. Watch and observe your bird at home to familiarize yourself with what is normal for THAT BIRD. Each parrot species will be different, and what is normal behavior for a cockatoo is different than that of a parakeet.

4. Notice the color and consistency of stools and the urine /urate color. If the urates become yellow or green tinged or stools change from what they “used to look like” for more than a day, bring your pet to the vet. You can get a good stool sample by placing wax paper at the bottom of the cage.

5. Any decrease in vocalization, change in voice, excess preening, change in stools, change in appetite, feather loss, overgrowth of beak or nails, are all reasons to get in as soon as possible. Any sitting “low” or “fluffing” is cause for concern.

Colonel's Deluxe Parrot Large

6. Nutrition is a cornerstone of bird health. Become an expert on your bird’s ideal nutrition by consulting with your avian vet. Even better, let your vet help you to choose the right bird for you and your family BEFORE rushing out and purchasing one.

If you’re interested in getting a bird and you want some veterinarian advice on which type of bird to get or you’re noticing some health issues in your bird after reading this article, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us by clicking here. We love caring for your pets.