parrot eating-cheese

Can Parrots Eat Cheese?

As you probably know all parrots are lactose intolerant. And consuming any kind of dairy means more frequent trips to the bathroom and more cleaning for you. 

However, when it comes to eating cheese, there are a few exceptions.

While most dairy products are high in lactose content, there are some types of cheese that are virtually lactose-free. But since parrots cannot read labels to find which product does not contain lactose, it is your responsibility to help them pick the right one. 

Yes, parrots can safely consume certain types of cheese that are low in lactose. But it should only be given to them in moderation. Some examples of such cheeses include Cheddar, Swiss, Muenster, and Parmesan.

Is Cheese Bad For Parrots?

Cheese can be a part of a parrot’s diet in moderation. It is like they say, the lesser the lactose, the lesser the symptoms. Compared to other dairy products, certain cheeses have much lower lactose content in them, making it safe for parrots to consume. 

But lactose is not the only issue in cheese. Cheese is also high in saturated fat and salt, which can be harmful to parrots if consumed in excess. 

Salt in particular has been linked to excessive thirst (polydipsia) and excessive excretion (polyuria) in parrots. However, it is not necessarily toxic in small amounts. In fact, it is an essential mineral required for the balance of electrolytes.  

Similarly, most cheeses are high in saturated fat which can lead to obesity in parrots. So while a small amount of cheese may be fine for parrots as an occasional treat, it is important you do not give it to them as a regular part of their diet.

What Types Of Cheese Can Parrots Eat?

Even though parrots are lactose intolerant, thankfully not all types of cheese are forbidden for them. Parrots can still indulge in aged and hard cheese but you would have to select the right ones. 

Considering parrots do not handle lactose well, you would want to give them cheese with lower lactose content. Any cheese with lactose between the ranges of 0-3 would not cause much or any trouble to your parrot’s sensitive tummy.

There are various types of cheeses from semi-solid to hard which contain very less amounts of lactose. Here are some of the best cheeses for your lactose-intolerant parrot:

Type Of CheeseLactose (Per 100 Grams)
Platter of hard cheese

Can Parrots Eat Cheddar Cheese?

Hard cheeses such as cheddar cheese have very low lactose content and are considered to be lactose-free for the most part. Although cheddar cheese is not completely free of lactose, it does only have a measly 0-2.1% lactose per 100g. This makes cheddar cheese a suitable treat you can give to your parrots occasionally.   

cheddar cheese

Can Parrots Eat Swiss Cheese?

Swiss cheese is another type of hard cheese your parrot can safely eat. Typically a serving of Swiss cheese contains around 0.3% which is not all that much. You can have your parrot munch on a piece but make sure it is not a big one.  

Can Parrots Eat Mozzarella Cheese?

Mozzarella Cheese also comes under the class of hard cheese and hence has very little lactose content. Parrots can enjoy small quantities of mozzarella cheese without any problem. 

Can Parrots Eat Parmesan Cheese?

Parmesan is another cheese with a negligible amount of lactose. Its long aging process makes it one of the more lactose-free and tastier options of cheese. Being a type of hard cheese, your parrots would love a long nibble on it.   

Can Parrots Eat Cottage Cheese?

Cottage cheese contains significantly lower amounts of fat and sodium compared to all other types of cheese. However, it does still have around 9 grams of lactose per serving which is a bit on the higher side. Parrots can eat cottage cheese but they should be given no more than a pea-sized portion as a treat.

cottage cheese

Can Parrots Eat Cream Cheese?

The creamier varieties of cheese are particularly high in lactose. Cream cheese contains about 27 grams of lactose per 100 grams which is quite a lot more than your parrot’s stomach can easily tolerate. So, you should avoid giving cream cheese to your parrot. 

Side Effects Of Feeding Parrots Cheese

Although a little bit of lactose should create no problem for your parrot’s stomach, sometimes accidents may still happen. Parrots in general are not completely lactose intolerant. Some parrots are able to handle dairy better than others.

But since the tolerance to lactose varies between species, you should observe how comfortable parrot is eating cheese. If your parrot is overly sensitive to lactose you may notice symptoms of diarrhea.  

You may notice your parrot pooping frequently with a watery or loose consistency. The color may also appear to be different. The symptoms of diarrhea may remain for a day at most although it depends on how much cheese your parrot ate. This is why it is better to stick to smaller portions especially to test your parrot’s tolerance to cheese. 

Nutritional Benefits Of Cheese For Parrots

Cheese has a number of health benefits as it is packed with nutrition. Cheese is a good source of protein and calcium, both of which are essential nutrients for parrots. It also contains vitamins A and B12, Zinc, and Phosphorus. But it should be kept in mind that cheese is not to be a regular part of the diet. It should only be served as an occasional treat.  

Can Parrots Eat Vegan Cheese? 

There are various types of vegan cheese available in the market. But not all of them are fit for consumption by a parrot. It depends on the ingredients used in making the vegan cheese. Parrots can safely consume certain types of vegan cheese that do not contain harmful ingredients like garlic, or onions. 

Soy Cheese

Soy cheese is not a healthy alternative to normal cheese even though it is lactose-free. Soy cheese is not recommended for parrots because of the use of pesticides and hormones in non-organic soy. 

Cheese Made Of Coconut Oil

As coconut oil is a plant-based product, it is safe for parrots to consume. However, you must read the labels to see whether all ingredients it contains are safe for parrots to consume. 

Nut-Based Cheeses

Nuts are a healthy and delicious treat for parrots, but when it comes to nut-based cheeses, the answer is not so straightforward. Nut-based cheese tends to be very high in fat, so you must be careful not to give them too much of it. 

While some nut cheeses are safe for parrots, others may contain harmful ingredients like salt, or other additives. It’s best to do your research and read the label carefully to ensure that it doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients. 


Can Parrots Eat Mac And Cheese?

Parrots love Mac and Cheese. But whether they can safely eat it really depends on the ingredients used to make the dish. The classic recipes for making Mac and Cheese include cheese that is high in lactose which may not be suitable to feed parrots.  

Parrots can eat Mac and cheese as long as it is made using the right type of cheese. Some of the best types of cheese that are low in lactose include Cheddar, Gouda, Muenster, and Parmesan.   

Can Parrots Eat Cheese Puffs?

Feeding your parrot cheese puffs is not a good idea. Cheese puffs not only contain lactose but are particularly high in sodium and preservatives that can be toxic to parrots. Moreover, cheese puffs are high in fat and low in nutritional value, which can contribute to obesity and other health issues in parrots.

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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