Thursday, November 18, 2004


New rules for feeding pet birds


Pet food regulators have relied on expert panels on canine and feline nutrition to determine minimum nutrient requirements for dogs and cats. These expert panels also help regulators determine tesing procedures for the nutritional adequacy of pet food. Pet food regulators have created an expert committee for companion and exotic bird nutrition. The panel interest is focused on passerine (song bird, finches, and canaries) and psittacine (parrots, cockatiels, and parrakeets) birds.

Dr. Randal N. Brue, vice president of research and development at Kaytee Products, Inc., is the chair of the expert panel on companion and exotic birds. Other panel members include Dr. Milton Sunde, professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin; Dr. Sue Crissey, director of the Brookfield Zoo (Chicago) nutrition services; and Mark Hagen, director of Research at Rolf C. Hagen, Inc. Two other nutritionists, Dr. Dick Grau, professor emeritus at the University of California-Davis and Dr. Dwayne Ullray, professor emeritus at Michigan State University, provided input during the formation of the panel.

The companion and exotic bird nutrition expert panel met last November in Chicago. The purpose of the meeting was for members to discuss and develop suggested nutrient profiles for feeding companion and exotic birds. This is required in the process to legally establish the use os a nutritional adequacy claim on companion bird food products. These regulations will help consumers differentiate between array of products—many off which are not "complete"—as well as establish a "benchmark" by which dietary performance can be measured by the veterinary and avicultural community.

During the meeting the panel addressed the following issues:
Applicable diet types: Considering the complications involved in setting a nutritional profile for a supplemented seed-based diet, for example, ingredient preference and ingredient separation, the panel agreed to focus on profiles for processed, nutritionally homogenous feed.

Profile categories: The panel agreed that, based on the minimal depth of information on this topic, only the development of "maintenance" profiles was prudent. This forced the panel to state only generalized profiles—a single maintenance profile for the entire category of specified birds. Therefore, a general maintenance profile was developed for all companion psittacines (regardless of size or genus) and a maintenance profile for all companion, graniverous passerines. This is a logical first step for what is, by definition, a process of refinement based on increased amounts of clinical and research-based data.

Profile reviews: Because it is recognized that this effort is the initial step of a long-term commitment to elucidate and communicate the nutritional needs of companion birds, this group, or its successors should continue to meet every 2-3 years to evaluate the performance of the proiles, discuss new research and group information, review anecdotal information of profile performance via Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV), and develop more specific criteria.

Nutrient recommendations

The panel also developed nutrient profiles for psittacine and passerine birds (Table 1). These nutrient recommendations are conservative. The recommendations are bassed on extrapolations from the National Research Council (NRC) requirements for poultry and the research and formulation experiences of the panel members. Generally, when the panel used NRC data, it chose the highest concentrations for incorporation into the companion bird profile, except when the highest concentration was specific for a particular species or breed.

There are a number of obstacles to developing meaningful nutrient recommendations for pet birds. One of the biggest is the availability of accurate nutrient values. Nutritionists and feed formulators know the metabolizable energy content of corn, soybean mela, and other commen ingredients for chickens, turkeys, swine, and cattle. However, these values may not be applicable for ingredients in pet bird feeds. The digestion efficiencies of commercial livestock and poultry may be different fro those of companion and exotic birds. Metabolizable energy values obtained from feeding trials using pet birds are lacking. Also, the metabolizable energy content of many of the special ingedients used in pet bird feed is unknown.

The panel decided to use gross energy rather than metabolizable energy as the criteria for measuring the energy content of pet bird feed. The expert panel recognized the limitations of gross energy. However, the simplicity of measurement— from both a regulatory and commercia lstandpoint—makes gross energy a desirable measurement. The panel recommended a range of gross energy values to insure that acceptable ranges of the nutrient-to-energy ratios are maintained. The total energy or fat content of a specific diet should be that which is required to maintain optimal weight in the target species. Metabolizable energy values will be substitued for gross energy values as they become available.

The panel members agreed that, because they included key amino acids in the nutritional profile, the crude protin concentration could be fairly low. Indeed, there was considerable observation and data by panel members with experience maintaining common companion species on diets consisting of 12-15% crude protein in long-term feeding situations.

Due to the difficulty in analyzing available, non-phytate phosphorus in ingredients, the expert panel elected to specify total dietary phosphorus. As a consequence, the panel recommended a calcium-to-phosphorus ratio of between 1:1 and 2:1.

Total vitamin A activity (vitamin A plus-carotene) was selected as the preferred measurement to acknowledge the dietary contributions of provitamin A compunds.

What is next?

The expert panel on the nutrition of companion and exotic birds plans to ask the AAV's Nutrition and Management Committee to review its nutritent profiles. The panel is also seeking input from the AAV's Board of Directors regarding protocol studies and general comments by the members on profiles and recommendations.

After AAV comments have been intergrated into the panel's recommendations, the panel will issue a final document to the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The AAFCO Pet Food Committee will then review and make its recommendations to its Board of Directors.

At the appropriate time, a committee report including the nutrient profiles and the applicable rationale or logic of the specific recommendations will be submitted for publication to constitute the specific reference for citation.

The nutrient recommendations for companion and exotic birds will aid veterinarians, consumers, and bird feed manufacturers in decreasing the mortality and morbidity associated with poor nutrition and unsound feeding practices.

Pet Bird Profiles
Table 1. Nutrients profile recommendations for companion and exotic birds.
Psitacine Passerines
Minimum Maximum Minimum Maximum
Gross energy, kcal/kg 3200 4200 3500 4500
Total protein, % 12 14
Unoleic acid, % 1 1
Amino Acids:
Arginine, % .65 .75
Lysine, % .65 .75
Methionine, % .30 .35
Methionine + cystine, % .50 .58
Threonine, % .40 .46
Vitamin A activity 9total), IU/kg 8000 8000
Vitamin D3, ICU/kg 500 2000 1000 2500
Vitamin E, ppm 50 50
Vitamin K, ppm 1 1
Biotin, ppm .25 0.25
Chloine, ppm 1500 1500
Folic acid, ppm 1.5 1.5
Niacin, ppm 50 50
Pantothenic acid, ppm 20 20
Pyridoxine, ppm 6 6
Riboflavin, ppm 6 6
Thiamine, ppm 4 4
Vitamin B12, ppm 0.1 0.01
Calcium, % 0.30 1.20 0.50 1.20
Phosphorus, % 0.30 0.50
Calcium: total phosphorus 1:1 2:1 1:1 2:1
Chlorine, % 0.12 0.12
Magnesium, ppm 600 600
Potassium, % 0.40 0.40
Sodium, % 0.12 0.12
Trace minerals:
Copper, ppm 8 8
Iodine, ppm 0.40 0.40
Iron, ppm 80 80
Manganese, ppm 65 65
Selenium, ppm 0.10 0.10
Zinc, ppm 50 50


Visit Bird Buffet N Things

Monday, November 15, 2004

Kids and Pets, will it work?

Author: Mary González

How can my child benefit from having a pet? 1. Social skills and
self-esteem. Feelings and positive experiences with their pet
can help children feel good about their own. Loving a pet can
also help kids to love and trust other people. 2. Exercise. All
pets need to exercise, and playing with their pet is a fun way
to incorporate some physical activity to your kid’s lifestyle.
3. Responsibility and respect. To learn how to take care of
their pet can help kids develop empathy, concern and
responsibility towards other beings. On top of that, during the
life cycle of the pet, parents have the opportunity to talk to
their kids about birth, sickness and death. 4. Parent
interaction. Kids and their parents can spend more time together
playing and taking care of their pet.

How can my child help take care of the pet? 1. A small child can
help out by feeding or providing fresh water to their pet
(portions must be measured by you). 2. The child can help
walking the pet, not alone of course, but just another time to
spend together with your kid. 3. Children can help you in
bathing and grooming the pet. 4. Assign to your child small,
simple tasks that can be performed under your supervision.

How can I keep my child healthy and safe around a pet? 1. Choose
your pets wisely, if you don’t already own a pet, study and
learn from the different breeds and species, you will find that
some are specially “kid friendly”. 2. Consider any allergies a
family member could have, before acquiring a pet. Consult with
your kid’s pediatrician about any allergies that may be present.
3. Take your pet to the veterinary to a general check up before
you bring it home.

* Always supervise interaction between pets and kids. * Teach
your child not to touch any pet, unless you say it’s OK to do
so. * Never leave pets and kids unattended. Kids tend to play
rough and that could provoke an attack or harm a small pet. *
Make sure your child stays away while the pet is eating,
sleeping or taking care of its own offspring. * Teach your child
to keep a good hygiene, not to touch the pet droppings and wash
his hands after playing with the pet. * Treat immediately any
scratch or bite caused by a pet. Consult with your child’s
pediatrician if the scratch or bite tears your child’s skin.

About the author:
Mary González is an Agronomist with a major in Animal Science
and runs the day-to-day operations of her home-based business
which carries aromatherapy products, natural remedies,
nutritional supplements and much more. She can also help you
start your own home-based 100% natural pet supplies business,
you can visit online at:

Pet Safety

Author: Lee Dobbins


Your home might be "kid-proof" but how does it measure up whenit comes to safety for your pet? Do you know all the hazardsyour pet is exposed to? How about what plants are poisonous andwhat foods should be avoided?

Caring for your pet is more than just making sure he has enoughfood, water and gets the appropriate veterinary care, it alsomeans providing a pet safe environment so that your furry,feathered or scaly friend can stay safe and healthy.Unfortunately, there are many hazards your pet is exposed toeach day that could put them in danger. Being aware of them sothat you can keep your pet out of harms way is theresponsibility of every pet owner.

Sometimes your guests can be the biggest hazard to your pet. Ifyou have indoor pets, your quests may not realize this and opendoors or windows around them that could allow them to “escape”to the great outdoors. Well meaning dinner guests and partygo-ers could overfeed your pet and cause him to become ill.Imagine if you had 20 guests and each one fed "treats" to yourpet! To insure pet safety when you have guests try keeping thepet in a crate or another room that the quests will not beallowed into. This may actually be more comfortable for your pettoo as it may make him nervous to have so many people around ifhe is not used to it. Instruct your guests not to let theanimals outside if they should get into the main house. Makesure your pet wears tags so he can be identified and returnshould he get out by mistake.

The holidays should be enjoyed by both you and your pets, sokeep pet safety in mind when decorating and celebrating.Remember that small objects can cause an intestinal blockage ifeaten so be sure to remove all tinsel, Easter grass, confetti,small toys and wrapping paper. Don’t leave candles unattendedwith pets near. Pet costumes can be cute, but make sure thereare no lose strings that could choke your pet or that he can gethis limbs caught in. It is best to not leave your pet unattendedwhen you have him dressed up. Make sure electrical cords arekept away for pets especially puppies. They can chew through thecord and get burned or even electrocuted. After decorating for aholiday, make sure to observe your pet around the newdecorations for several hours to see if they develop any unsafehabits around certain items - you may need to remove or rethinkyour decorating if it looks like there could be a hazard. I hada ferret that liked to jump into the tree and grab all the shinyornaments so I stopped decorating the bottom of the tree toprevent this as I was afraid the glass would break and injureher!

When feeding your pet treats, it is important to know that theyshould not eat certain foods. In general “people food” should begiven to pets sparingly if at all, but some foods can be toxic.
Most of the greasy holiday foods that we love to eat are notgood for them and overfeeding can make them ill. In particulardo not feed them chocolate - it can be fatal especially to cats.So make sure you move those valentine candies, Easter eggs andchocolate Santas out of pets reach. Other foods to avoid areonions, alcohol and poultry bones. In addition, birds should notbe fed avocados, dairy products, fruit seeds, potatoes, cabbage,green beans, lemons, rhubarb, grapefruit, plums and, of course,caffeine, chocolate, and alchohol. Any of these can be harmfuland even fatal to your feathered friend! Also, keep in mind thatthe fumes from non stick pans can be fatal for pet birds so keepyour bird out of the kitchen, or better yet, switch to cast ironpans.

When decorating with plants either for the holidays or just ingeneral, keep pet safety in mind. There are many toxic plantsbut common toxic holiday plants include potted bulbs, ivy,holly, mistletoe and greens (contrary to popular beliefpoinsettia are not overly dangerous but I still wouldn't let mypet eat one!). This is not an exhaustive list so before youbring any new plant into the house please research it'stoxicity.

It’s just as important to look out for your pets safety outsideas it is inside. Beware that antifreeze is extremely toxic topets. Keep your pet away from any puddles that might contain it.Rock salt can be irritating to pet paws and also to theirstomach if eaten or licked off the paws. Use common sense whenpracticing pet safety during the winter months.

About the author:Lee Dobbins is a pet lover, pet owner and webmaster of whereyou can find information on pet health, safety and products.

Pets Get Diabetes Too

Author: Nick Carmichael Article:

Just like humans pets can suffer from diabetes mellitus too. Bya simple blood test, called fructosamine, thay can be diagnosed,and then under the care of your veterinary surgeon, oftentreated succesfully.

Fructosamines are stable complexes of carbohydrates and proteinsthat are produced by an irreversible, nonenzymatic glycosylationof serum proteins. Fructosamine (glycated serum protein)measurements are useful in diagnosing and monitoring diabetesmellitus in both cats and dogs. The test is highly sensitive andcan be used to distinguish non-diabetic transientlyhyperglycaemic cats from diabetics with chronic hyperglycaemia.A single measurement of fructosamine indicates the averageglucose concentration over the previous 1-3 weeks and its assaycan therefore be used to assist in the diagnosis of diabetesmellitus as well as monitoring the effectiveness of insulintherapy in diabetic patients. Fructosamine values are notinfluenced by acute fluctuations in blood glucose making themmore useful than single glucose measurements taken from stressedor anorexic patients, or animals on glucose containing IVfluids. In some cases however they can be used in conjunctionwith serial glucose curves to assess the short and long termresponse to insulin administration.Please contact your veterinary surgeon for further details or ifyou have any concerns about your pets.Further information on fructosamine can be found at:

About the author:Nick graduated from Edinburgh Veterinary School in 1980 with anHonours degree in Pathological Sciences and in 1982 as aBachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery. In 2003 Nick becamea diplomate of the Royal college of Pathologists in veterinaryclinical pathology.