Vitamin A Deficiency in Birds


PetMD Editorial

Updated Aug. 11, 2022

Birds with an exclusive diet of seeds and nuts -- especially sunflower seeds and peanuts -- tend to have a vitamin A deficiency. The deficiency usually goes undiagnosed in pet birds.

Instead, you need supplement the bird’s feed with fruits and vegetables, which are rich in different vitamins, proteins and minerals. However, be aware Lorikeets and lories require less vitamin A in their diet, as they can store iron in their liver, leading to various disorders.

Symptoms and Types

The first symptoms of vitamin A deficiency are revealed on the bird's face as white spots in the eyes, sinuses, and in and around the mouth. These spots then catch infection and turn into pus-filled abscesses. An abscess in the mouth can deform the opening of the windpipe (glottis) and cause the bird to have difficulty breathing, which can result in suffocation and death.

If an untreated abscess grows large enough, it can close the opening in the roof of the bird’s mouth (choana). If that happens, there will be nasal discharge and swelling around the eyes of the bird.

Other symptom of vitamin A deficiency include:

  • Wheezing
  • Sneezing
  • Nostrils blocked with crusts
  • Swollen eyes (sometimes with discharge)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Gagging
  • Bad breath
  • Slimy mouth
  • Tail bobbing
  • Dullness of feather color
  • Listlessness
  • Depression

Vitamin A deficiency can also affect internal organs and cause disorders any of the systems, such as the reproductive, digestive or respiratory system.


The diet of the bird should be carefully evaluated for the body's vitamin A percentage and its precursor. Evaluation of vitamin A precursors (such as Beta-carotene) is important, as the bird’s body will covert it into vitamin A.

Food rich in vitamin A and vitamin A precursors include fruits like cantaloupe and papaya, vegetables like chili peppers, leaves of broccoli, turnip and flowers, sweet potato, carrots, beetroot, spinach, dandelion, collards, endive, egg yolks, butter and liver.

A well-balanced diet can also ensure your bird does not acquire a vitamin A deficiency.

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