Can Parrots Eat Cheese? (Avian Vet Reviewed Guide)

Last Updated on October 25, 2023 by Ali Shahid

Parrots really enjoy their meals, often trying to share what their owners are having. Many parrot caretakers often ponder whether it’s safe to give them cheese. They often ask: Can parrots eat cheese?

According to Dr. Jessica Grodio of the Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine NY, parrots cannot eat cheese as they do not have enzymes for the digestion of lactose present in cheese and other dairy products. 

In this article, we will look at whether parrots can eat cheese, as well as Dr. Jessica’s recommendations on the subject.

Can Parrots Eat Cheese?

Why Cheese Is Bad for Parrots?

According to Dr. Jessica, parrots should not be fed cheese. It can lead to tummy troubles and other digestive problems for your feathered friend. Parrots, like all birds, can’t handle dairy due to their lactose intolerance. So, it’s best to steer clear of cheese, even in small quantities.

Cheese is quite high in fat, and there are better sources of healthy fats for your bird to enjoy. Additionally, cheese packs a lot of sodium and is calorie-dense. If you’re keeping an eye on your parrot’s calorie intake, it’s wise to skip the cheese. Your parrot can have more significant servings of fruits, veggies, and grains with the same calorie content as a small piece of cheese.

Can Parrots Eat Non-Dairy Cheese?

Your parrot’s fondness for cheese might make you consider it as a snack, but it’s not the ideal choice. You might think that choosing a dairy-free alternative is a healthier option. However, is this truly the better path?

Dr. Jessica suggests that it varies. There are many dairy-free cheeses on the market, but they are not all the same when it comes to safety for your pet. While soy cheese is an option, it’s not advisable to regularly include soy products in your parrot’s diet. 

Many of the non-dairy cheese alternatives may contain ingredients that are harmful to parrots, such as garlic or onion powder, which can lead to severe health issues. If you wish to offer some to your parrot, it’s wise to inspect the ingredients carefully.

What Happens If a Parrot Eats Cheese?

It’s quite surprising that cheese has gained popularity as a treat for parrots, considering their strong lactose intolerance. When parrots consume dairy, they experience the same unpleasant consequences as lactose-intolerant humans, including diarrhea and digestive discomfort. 

This not only discomforts your feathered friend but also makes cage cleaning a more arduous task than usual. While some believe that a parrot can gradually become tolerant to dairy over time, Dr. Jessica strongly disagrees. 

She says parrots lack the essential enzymes required to digest dairy, and no matter how cautiously you introduce it into their diet, they won’t develop these necessary enzymes.

Can Cheese Kill Parrots?

You may have concerns about whether cheese can harm your pet bird. The good news is that cheese won’t be fatal for parrots, as it’s not toxic like some other foods, Dr. Jessica says. Nevertheless, it’s best to avoid giving cheese to your feathered friend, as it can cause digestive problems and other health issues.

Healthy Snacks for Parrots

Cheese isn’t a big problem for your feathered friend as long as it’s given in moderation. However, it’s not their ideal snack either. Dr. Jessica, an expert in this field, suggests a range of excellent and safe treats for your parrot. These include:

  • Fresh fruits like apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, and strawberries.
  • Fresh vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, kale, and spinach.
  • Cooked grains like brown rice, quinoa, and barley.
  • Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
  • Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, and beans.

These snacks are packed with essential vitamins and minerals to keep your parrot in top-notch health. Just remember to steer clear of any foods that can be harmful to birds, such as avocado, chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol.


To sum it up, although cheese isn’t toxic to parrots, it’s not the best choice for their diet. Parrots struggle with lactose digestion, and cheese can trigger digestive problems and other health issues.

When looking to treat your parrot, there’s a variety of healthier options to consider, including fresh fruits, vegetables, cooked grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. As a rule of thumb, consulting your veterinarian for any dietary or health concerns regarding your parrot is essential.

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