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Old 09-01-2019, 03:13 PM
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I've developed a 'weight loss plan'...thoughts?

So, as I mentioned in the vet post about Skittles, he needs to lose weight. He's not terribly overweight, but I don't want him to get to that point either. However well intentioned my vet is, I often find the restrictions they call for to likely be 'overly-cautious', which considering how I am is saying something. Now, I apologize for the length of this post, but I wanted to give as much information as I can (as well as some history) in order to hopefully get the most accurate feedback.

As some of you may already know, I've had birds since I was 11y/o (I'll be 43 in November) and I've had MANY birds over the years and never been without at least one since I got my first. I do NOT think its a coincidence that the two birds who lived the longest are the two I was most bonded too. Skittles is almost 9 1/2 years old (I actually CANNOT believe that! lol) and with all due respect to the prior two, I've NEVER had a stronger bond with any of my birds. I DO believe that the strength of the bond we have with our fids DOES play a significant part on their longevity.

Birds who have a very strong bond with their owner will often pass away shortly after their owner passes. I am Skittles first owner as he's never been rehomed. I think even rehoming can cause premature death and I have evidence of it. My half sister gave me her 5y/o cockatiel that she was super-bonded with when she got remarried and decided to have more kids. Her name was Spike (the tiel, not my sister, lol). As hard as I tried to bond with Spike, she wouldn't . I only had her for a few years before she passed away. I told my half-sister that she caught an illness and never bounced back. Truth is, I'm pretty sure she died of heartbreak. I didn't see the need to cause my half-sister any distress since it wouldn't change anything though in the back of my mind I wanted her to feel guilty but I knew that wasn't the right thing to do.

I KNOW there are situations where rehoming would be in the best interest of the bird and I mean no disrespect to those here who've been in that position. Each decision is based entirely on the situation. But my half-sister didn't even try. She just decided to part with Spike when she decided to get married again and likely have a baby. Had she at least tried too, I think things might have been different. I'd imagine that a lot of people (not people here though) would have rehomed Skittles when he developed some major behavioral problems when he was around 2y/o. Those people blame the bird. Skittles problems wasn't because of him, it was because of me and the way I was behaving. Not setting limits, boundaries and turning him into a spoiled brat. Retraining him was NOT easy, but boy did it pay off!

So, back to Skittles weight. Like I mentioned, I developed a plan for Skittles. Reason I created this thread is because I would like to get the input from others on how they would handle this situation and/or if they have any suggestions that might help even more. Last year, Skittles weighed 119g. Prior to that, his 'non-regular' treats consisted mainly of pizza crust and bread several times a week. When he had his gram stain test last year, the vet said his bacteria ration was off and didn't show enough 'variety' so they had me put him on a course of pro-biotics, which I did.

This year, his ration was completely normal. In the past year, I completely discontinued the bread and pizza crust and cut down on the power treats. I only switched him from 100%OJ to 100% PP apple within the last four or five months. I'm not sure how much of a part that has played. I also did recently let him share my breakfast with me when I have Cheerios (I use unsweetened almond milk which the vet said was fine). Despite the healthy changes I made (discontinuing the 'naughty stuff') he still gained 'almost' 3g as he weighed in at almost 122g (121.8 to be exact). I DO think he is a little pudgy since I have had a chance to examine him and there is a 'small' layer of either fat/muscle covering his breastbone (though I can still clearly feel it).

Ironically, six months ago I didn't feel that, in fact he felt underweight. I'm wondering if juice change and the cereal are playing more of an impact than I thought. That being said, there has been a significant behavioral change in him as well. Last August (2018) I severely injured my right ankle. Skittles didn't go to the vet til Sept. of that year. While Skittles has always had a predisposition to 'cuddling' with me, it went into overdrive after my injury and now he spends a great deal of the day cuddling.

Skittles diet has always consisted of Harrisons (since he came here. He was originally fed a deluxe seed assortment but took right to the Harrisons so conversion was never done). I've fed him the "High Potency" since then. My vet has suggested switching him to the "Adult Lifetime" (I will start this with transition first and monitor his eating habits) since it has less calories but the same nutrients. She's also suggested watering down the juice to 3-1ratio and cutting the amount in half. (I know I mentioned that in my vet post, but some of you may not have read that, shame on you! lol. just kidding!)

So I've decided to do this as I think its the most fair. I am going to water down the juice to half-water, half-juice ratio and keep the amount the same. I am going to transition him to the adult lifetime, as I mentioned and see how this works. I don't want to cut out the cereal since he really doesn't eat much of it at all and its certainly healthier than the bread rolls and pizza crust. But at the same time, I can't deny the timing of the weight gain and the addition of those is rather coincidental. I don't want to change the cuddling amount. I will need to make sure he is getting enough 'flight time' in, but the cuddling benefits me too much for me to cut down on it. I just wonder if I should see how much of a difference the diet change has (the Harrisons) before further restricting the juice and cereal or should I focus more on the latter?

So, thoughts? Do you think I'm being too restrictive? Setting up a likely issue? Not making enough changes? If you were in my situation, what changes would you make?

Thanks for any input I get. Getting reassurance is important to me, I need to know I'm doing right by him.
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Last edited by Skittys_Daddy; 09-01-2019 at 03:17 PM.
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Old 09-01-2019, 04:00 PM
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Re: I've developed a 'weight loss plan'...thoughts?

I'm clearly not the best person to respond. But, I just wanted to share with you that, I've never given Levi bread of any kind or fruit juice. I give him whole organic fruit as a treat or some fruit in his chop. I only share veggie shakes (that I make) with minimal fruit. I'm sure you know, that fruit is concentrated sugar.
My Vet always advises me to be light on the fruit due to it's sugar content.

So, I'm thinking I'm way more restrictive than you.
Levi gets Harrison's & other pellets, fresh & frozen vegetables (cooked & raw), grains, (chop) salad, barely any fruit, & nuts/seeds as treats. When I got a little to generous with the fruit, his gram stain was off. So, I held back again on his fruit intake. Next gram stain was normal.

Good Luck with your plan, I hope you are successful.
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Old 09-01-2019, 05:15 PM
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Re: I've developed a 'weight loss plan'...thoughts?

Some apple juice can be incredibly high in sugar, to the point that it's used as a substitute for sugar in items that want to claim "fruit only" in their name while still keeping the manufacturability that comes from sugar.

Wondering IF possibly the change away from OJ towards apple juice could have contributed?

(Just a thought.)
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Old 09-01-2019, 05:27 PM
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Re: I've developed a 'weight loss plan'...thoughts?

I think tami and fiddlejen gave you great advice, I’d pay attention to that right there. You’ve named a few things that...nobody paying attention to avian nutrition would feed with any regularity. Parker is lucky to get a *nip* of break twice a monthX and only something the size of a quarter (ok, so Parker’s 4x the size of skittles, adjust size as necessary).

The juice really should go altogether. Once a week treat, maybe. Juice is nothing more than a sugary drink.

If you want to get creative with more than water, you can do avian teas and substitute it for water a couple mornings a week. The dried tea leaves can also be served directly onto the food as well.

Good luck!
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Old 09-01-2019, 11:24 PM
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Re: I've developed a 'weight loss plan'...thoughts?

Being a type 1 diabetic I know ALL ABOUT the hidden dangers of things like juice, breads, pasta, grains in general, fruit and even some veggies (like carrots, peas, beets and even peppers)! Personally, it sounds like your vet is already allowing some pretty big deviations from the standard diet so I would stick to exactly what she suggested and no more! I know how difficult it is to deny Skittles the things that bring him so much pleasure, but just remember that by denying him these few small things you are likely GIVING him many additional years of happy and healthy life! And don’t forget...you are giving YOURSELF those extra years with him as well!
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Old 09-02-2019, 09:29 PM
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Neotropical Pigeon - "Skittles" (born 3/29/10) Cockatiel - "Peaches" (1995-2015) R.I.P. Budgie - "Sammy" (1989-2000) R.I.P. Budgie - "Sandy" (1987-1989) R.I.P.
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Re: I've developed a 'weight loss plan'...thoughts?

The apple juice I give him is pure pressed with nothing added to it. That being said, I too wondered if the change from OJ to apple played a part. I'll have to check the calorie and sugar content.

I'm actually glad to read a number of posts from people more restrictive than I am. That means I can be more restrictive. I just get really sensitive when it comes to his needs. I've been doing 1/2 and 1/2 on the water and juice the past few days. When I went to do it the first few times (water it down), each time he would screech as if to say "oh no you don't". That being said, I've also noticed he's not drinking as much of it as he used too.

The vet didn't say to cut the juice out completely, just water it down and decrease the amount. So, I'm gonna do that. His gram stain wasn't off this year (likely because I stopped the bread and pizza) so thats a good thing.

Thanks again for the replies. It really helped.
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