A glass of milk

Can Parrots Drink Milk? (Which Dairy Product Is Safe?)

Milk has always been a staple in our diets. Whether it is the morning coffee, breakfast cereal, or ice cream at dessert, milk is always there.

But as is the case with any food that you may choose to eat or drink, your parrots always have an eye out to get their share of the piece. 

However, parrots are not known to have mammalian milk as babies, and considering where they originate, milk isn’t a part of their natural diet. So is it safe for parrots to drink milk?  

Parrots cannot drink cow milk. While they are not 100% lactose intolerant, consuming milk can lead to stomach upset and diarrhea in parrots.

Is Milk Good For Parrots?

According to the World Parrot Trust, parrots are not 100% lactose intolerant, which means they can safely eat certain dairy products in tiny amounts as long as they are low in lactose.

However, if a parrot has too much milk to drink, it can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and other digestive problems. It is best to avoid giving them any kind of dairy product as a precautionary measure. Instead, you can give them other types of milk that are lactose-free.

Image by dipratt on Pixabay

Risks Associated With Giving Milk To Parrots

While milk is not harmful to parrots in small quantities, it is generally not recommended to feed them any. Since different species of parrots have different tolerance to lactose, it can be hard to determine what constitutes a small quantity.

If you’re a lactose intolerant person yourself, you would probably understand why parrots can’t drink too much milk. You know if by mistake you had too much of a dairy product that you like, you’re sure to have a not-so-fun time in the bathroom. Something similar happens with your bird as well. 

Like a lactose intolerant person, parrots lack the enzyme lactase which is necessary for the breakdown of lactose. Without lactase, lactose cannot be properly digested and can lead to digestive issues.

However, that’s not all, milk is not a good addition to your parrot’s diet for a few other reasons as well. Stomach problems diarrhea, weight gain, and digestive issues are associated with giving milk to parrots.  


Giving your parrots any kind of dairy can put you up for a lot of cleaning. Consumption of dairy can cause parrots to experience an upset stomach and make their droppings more frequent and runny. 

The symptoms of diarrhea may start to show up within 12 hours of consumption, although it depends on the amount your parrot has ingested. The severity of the condition also depends on the species of your parrot since some may be more tolerant to lactose than others.

Weight Gain

Feeding your parrot with foods high in saturated fats and natural sugars, such as whole milk, can lead to unhealthy weight gain. This is because parrots, just like humans, can store excess calories as fat. 

If your parrot is overweight, it can put unnecessary stress on its body, leading to a host of health problems. Moreover, sweet dairy products such as ice cream are even worse for your parrot’s health as it contains added sugar and preservatives which can cause them to rapidly gain weight.

Additionally, parrots have different nutritional needs than humans and are not adapted to digest dairy products, so it’s best to have milk out of your parrot’s diet. 

Digestive Problems 

If you’ve mistakenly given your parrot milk a few times, it’s absolutely fine. But unknowingly if a parrot is given milk on a regular basis, it can have serious consequences for the bird’s digestive system. Consuming dairy can put your parrot at an increased risk of developing other digestive disorders.  

Can Parrots Eat Dairy Products?

Why most dairy products are not recommended for parrots, some can be given in small amounts. Certain types of dairy products are lower in lactose and hence, can be suitable for feeding to an extent. 

Many types of aged cheeses such as Swiss, parmesan, and cheddar as well as some probiotic yogurt have lower lactose content. This makes them more tolerable for parrots to consume. But it should be kept in mind, that these dairy food items still contain some amount of lactose in them.  

While some parrots may be able to tolerate small amounts of dairy products, it is generally not recommended as they are lactose intolerant.

Consuming dairy products can lead to stomach upset and diarrhea for parrots. It is best to stick to a balanced diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein sources that are safe for parrots. 

Parrots drinking milk
Image by galitskaya on freepik

Can Parrots Drink Almond Milk?

Almonds can be a nutritious snack for parrots. Almond milk is made by blending soaked almonds and water. It is a great alternative to cow’s milk, as it is low in calories, high in calcium, and does not contain any cholesterol, saturated fats, or sugar. Additionally, almond milk also contains Vitamin E, which is great for parrots’ health.

Can Parrots Drink Oat Milk?

Parrots can drink oat milk as it does not contain lactose. However, unlike some other milk alternatives, oat milk has a low fat content, which makes it a great choice for parrots. 

Not only that, but oat milk also contains a good amount of calcium and protein that are good for your parrot’s overall health. Just remember to avoid any oat milk that has added sugars or other ingredients that may not be good for your parrot.

Can Parrots Drink Coconut Milk? 

Another type of milk that is lactose-free and safe for parrots is coconut milk. Coconut milk is a liquid that is extracted from the flesh of a mature coconut. It contains water, coconut cream, and various vitamins and minerals. It does not contain lactose which is why it serves as a great alternative to milk. 

However, it should only be served as an occasional treat to your parrots as it contains high levels of saturated fat, which can lead to weight gain and other health issues in parrots. 

Can Parrots Drink Soy Milk?

Soy milk is another lactose-free milk that is safe for parrots to consume. It is made by soaking and grinding soybeans and has a creamy texture and a mild flavor that your parrot would love.

However, soy is generally not recommended for parrots because of its low nutritional value. While soy milk can provide some protein and fat, it may not be the best source for parrots.  

Moreover, non-organic soy milk may contain high levels of pesticides, which can have a negative impact on parrots due to their smaller size. To ensure the well-being of your bird, it’s better to avoid soy milk and choose a varied, plant-based diet. 

Can Parrots Drink Rice Milk?

Rice milk is a plant-based milk that is made from milled rice and water. It does not contain lactose, which makes it a good option for your lactose-intolerant parrots.

However, it must be noted that rice milk provides very little nutritional value compared to other types of milk, and should not be the sole source of nutrition for your parrot. 

Can Parrots Drink Flavored Milk?

Flavored milk is still milk and is not suitable for parrots to drink. The added sugars and artificial flavors make it even more unhealthy for a parrot’s diet. In addition, the additives and preservatives in flavored milk can cause digestive problems for parrots. 

All flavored drinks contain loads of sugar which can be extremely harmful to parrots. Sugar does not have much nutritional value but contains a lot of calories. This can lead to obesity in parrots among other stomach-related issues. 

What To Do If Your Parrot Drinks Milk?

If your parrot accidentally drinks milk or consumes a small amount of dairy product, it is usually nothing to worry about. You can keep your birds away from sharing your food only to a certain extent. My birds nibble on my cheese pizza all the time. The only thing you would need to be worried about is all the pooping!

Parrots poop quite a lot as is, but you haven’t seen the real mess until you watch them poop after having dairy. 

That being said, if you’re not sure how much milk your parrot has, you should observe them closely for any signs of discomfort or digestive issues. Keep an eye out for diarrhea, vomiting, and other abnormal behavior. 

If you notice these symptoms, you should contact your avian veterinarian. They can advise you on the appropriate steps to take, which may include monitoring your parrot’s symptoms, offering them electrolytes to prevent dehydration, or scheduling a visit to the vet for a check-up. 

Remember, prevention is always the best approach to keep potentially harmful food items out of your parrot’s reach and also to save yourself a load of poop cleaning around the house.


Can Parrots Drink Chocolate Milk?

Parrots should not drink chocolate milk. While milk itself is not recommended for parrots because of their inability to digest lactose, chocolate is simply toxic to parrots. 

Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine, which is toxic to birds. If a parrot accidentally ingests chocolate milk, it can lead to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and even death in severe cases.

Can Baby Parrots Drink Milk?

Baby parrots should not be given cow’s milk or any other kind of milk. While milk is a nutritious beverage for humans, it is not suitable for parrots as they are lactose intolerant.

Baby parrots can be more sensitive to the effects of lactose due to their delicate digestive system. Giving baby parrots milk can have a negative effect on their health. 

Can Parrots Drink Milk Tea?

Milk tea is not safe for parrots to consume because it has milk in it. If you wish to offer your parrot some tea, herbal tea or black tea can be a better choice for them.


Lactose intolerance can lead to some pretty uncomfortable and embarrassing situations for us humans. In parrots, it can lead to digestive issues and diarrhea, which means you’ll be doing a lot more cleaning up than usual. This is why, it’s always best to stick to a balanced diet that your parrot can comfortably enjoy, without the risk of upsetting their stomach. 

Dorson Joseph
Dorson Joseph

I'm Dorson, a bird enthusiast who's had a lifelong fascination for the avian world. I am a parent to my beloved Senegal parrot and budgie, which has deepened my love for avian creatures and taught me a lot over the years. I co-run a bird store and care center with my friends, where we work with experienced professionals to care for our flock. Now, I find great joy in sharing my knowledge with others, hoping to assist fellow bird keepers and enthusiasts in understanding birds and helping them live happy lives.

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