choking on pellets

by Dani

I (think/hope) that I've recently been successful in converting my flock from an all seed diet to a pelleted diet. I've been taking the transition slowly as they've only been on it for about five days, allowing them to only have seeds in the evening (as noted in the book "Cockatiels for Dummies") While my birds have taken a liking to the new food, one of them seems to be having an issue with the pellets. I only see, what looks like, him choking when he's eating the pellets.

He never exhibited such a behavior while on the seed diet. I'm concerned about a few things. One, is he having an allergic reaction to the pellets and causing him to choke? Two, is he just not chewing/breaking them apart well enough? In either case, I would appreciate some feedback on a course of action that I need to take for either, or, what to do if there are any other issues that may come to mind.

I'm thinking I can rule out the first one, but not entirely, as his crop is not swollen or enlarged. He's not thin either, which indicates that he's getting the daily nutritional value. I'm just concerned about his overall comfort and if this is a serious issue. Thanks!

Comments for choking on pellets

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Jun 15, 2016
by: Anonymous

My cockatiel is currently eating Harrison's AL fine, and he also seems to be choking on them. He'll move his head and then I'll see him cough one up. He never had this issue on a seed diet. I tried giving him a smaller size pellet, Harrison's AL super fine, but he won't touch them at all, and they seem way too tiny for him. Any suggstions?

Editor's note: He should not be choking on fine, if he has trouble chewing then he needs to see an avian vet. We have smaller birds that eat Harrison's fine with no trouble.

Apr 08, 2013
I'm seeing this issue too
by: Cody

Hello. I recently lost a cockatiel who often gagged on his pellets. The vet said it was most likely an aspiration event of some sort, and he was gone within 12 hours of me noticing he wasn't feeling well. Now my second cockatiel is also beginning to gag on his food and I'm quite worried I might lose him too, if he sucks a piece down the wrong pipe.
In the time since these posts, had anyone else noticed similar issues?

Thank you.

Dec 30, 2011
Choking Issue Resolved
by: Dani

Hi Linda, thank you so much for taking the time to comment, I greatly appreciate it!! He was and still is eating Kaytee brand organic pellets (they are round pellets and it has some seeds, granola, and coconut in as well). He is not choking on them anymore, thankfully! I think that he was trying to swallow them whole instead of crunching them up. Upon watching him over the last few weeks he's learned to crunch them up and is not choking anymore!! Thanks again for taking the time to comment on my post :)

Dec 28, 2011
Bird is NOT choking on pellets
by: The Avian Vet

What does choking look like in your bird? No, an allergic reaction is not happening. It is not likely they are not chewing them enough either. Continue feeding pellets. What pellet are you feeding?

You need to take him to see an avian veterinarian.

Find an Avian Vet

Nov 26, 2011
choking on pellets
by: Linda

Since the Avian Vet may be late answering this, I thought I'd give it my best shot. Firstly, what kind of pellets are you changing them over to? If they are junk pellets like Zu-Preem or Lafaebers, then both of those are full of dangerous chemicals which can cause allergic reactions or slow toxicity buildup which causes death.

The other issue is what size are they? If they are either too big or too small, then this could cause choking. The Cockies do not hold food in their feet, so if pellets are too big, then it is difficult to eat and bird may decide to just try and swallow too large a piece.

If you are changing them over to pellets, take a look at the organics found here. Harrison's is the best, and there are a few others that are also good. They do not have any preservatives, pesticide residue, dyes or sugar added. They are natural and have to be refrigerated after opening.Since you're in the midst of changing them over anyway, think about changing them over to an organic pellet that will prolong their lives with fewer trips to Avian Vet as well. I know, because I've been feeding Harrisons to my Amazons for over 20 years now, and the only time they go to Avian Vet is for nail and beak clipping when needed.

If the choking persists, you may want to take him to an Avian Vet for an exam because this is not in any way normal.

Thanks for writing,

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