Garlic is the central spice of countless dishes in the west and across the world.
We use it in virtually everything, and we’ve flavored just about everything we can think of with garlic.
For many of us, the natural next question is whether we can share it with our pets—so can conures eat garlic?
No, conures should never eat garlic. It contains a compound called allicin, which can cause weakness and even anemia in birds. Feeding even a small amount of garlic to your conure could be seriously detrimental to their health, so make sure they never eat any garlic.
So, it may surprise you to learn that something as apparently innocuous as garlic could be toxic to birds.
The fact is, though, that it can be poisonous to a great many animals, including dogs and other domestic pets.
So, it’s important that your conure never gets any.
Let’s find out more.
Is garlic safe for conures?
No, garlic is not safe for conures, for one essential reason.
Garlic contains a chemical called allicin, which in its pure form is a yellowy, oily liquid, and indeed the very thing that gives garlic its distinctive flavor and odor.
It’s what’s known as a thioester of sulphuric acid, which essentially means it’s a compound within that acidic group.
It has often been confused with allysine, on the internet but also in published research.
But allysine is an entirely different thing that you don’t need to worry about.
Allicin, even at times when consumed in small amounts, can cause anemia.
This is a condition that affects many warm-blooded creatures, including ourselves.
Anemia is a condition that results from the body lacking enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to the tissue and muscles.
Without enough oxygen getting to all parts of the body, your conure will begin to feel weak and will eventually suffer from anemia if they ate enough.
This can be fatal in severe cases, and in the best-case scenario, it can still cause permanent problems.
This is also referred to as having low hemoglobin.
This may all sound like a lot of fuss over something as small as garlic, but the fact is that it can be really bad for your conure if they eat it.
The same is true of all parrots and indeed most birds.
So, what will actually happen if a conure eats garlic?
What happens if a conure eats garlic?
Well, you won’t be surprised to learn that you will not see negative effects immediately.
Your conure may not realize it’s eaten something bad—although, for reasons I’ll get into later, they probably wouldn’t even go near it in the first place.
Assuming they have, accidentally, eaten some garlic, though, in most cases nothing will really happen.
They won’t eat enough for it to cause a serious problem, and they will eventually flush it from their system, perhaps suffering some minor weakness.
But if they eat a large amount, then you may find that they are unable to move and lie down even face first.
They will be fatigued and lethargic, without the energy to play or perhaps even to eat or drink.
They will do things sluggishly and slowly.
Eventually, if they have consumed enough, the allicin will cause their brain to be starved of oxygen, and they can die.
This is in the rarest of cases, but it is not impossible.
There’s no understating the potential danger of your conure eating garlic, then.
It could be fatal in the worst case, and at best it will be quite unpleasant for your conure to go through.
So, if your conure has accidentally eaten some garlic, what should you do?
What to do if a conure eats garlic
If your conure has eaten garlic, the first thing you need to do is not panic.
As I said, in most cases, you won’t really notice any problems because it won’t eat enough for it to be a problem.
However much it eats, though, you should still take action.
Check on the conure and make sure it shows no obvious sign of illness.
Then, the first thing you want to do is call a vet and see them as soon as you can.
Diagnosing health issues in parrots is very difficult without training.
While, in all likelihood, your conure will be fine unless it has ingested a very large amount, you still are always better to be safe than sorry.
Be with it as much as you can until you can get it to a vet.
Take steps to make sure that your conure never has access to garlic again.
Now, we’ve touched on something that usually means conures leave garlic alone—so what is that?
Do conures smell garlic?
Most birds don’t have an excellent sense of smell, and parrots are no exception.
They can’t smell much and use their eyes for most of their navigating the world.
But one thing it seems pretty clear they can smell is garlic.
Most conures appear to hate the smell of garlic.
It puts them off going near it entirely, and any mature parrot that understands the world is very unlikely to eat garlic by choice.
The allicin is what produces the smell, which is the compound that causes the anemia, so it may be that this is a natural adaptation to avoid the harmful compound.
Their nose tells them to stay away!
Can conures eat garlic bread?
So, what about garlic bread?
Is this any safer for conures when the garlic is cooked?
I’m sure you will not be surprised to learn that the answer is no.
Whether the garlic is cooked or raw, on bread or in clove form, it isn’t safe for your conure to eat.
Not to mention that neither is bread.
Your conure shouldn’t be eating highly processed foods like this.
Just give it a good range of fruits and vegetables on top of its normal diet, and you’ll have no problem.
There’s no need to feed it any kind of garlic product, ever.
But garlic water is a common thing for some bird pets—what about conures?
Can conures drink garlic water?
The benefits of garlic water are not entirely clear, and at the moment it is primarily given to parakeets.
Personally, I would avoid giving garlic water to your conure.
The benefits that might come from it are few and can easily be found in other foods.
Garlic water always carries the risk of allicin poisoning, however reduced it may be.
The allicin doesn’t go away, it is just highly diluted.
Some reports suggest that you only need ¼ a clove of garlic to kill a parrot.
Garlic water isn’t diluted enough to reduce the risk entirely.
What about cooked or raw?
Does that make a difference?
Can conures eat raw garlic?
No, conures absolutely cannot eat raw garlic.
This is where the allicin is most concentrated and potent, so you definitely should not let your conure eat raw garlic.
As I said, though there aren’t direct, peer-reviewed studies on the issue, some reports suggest only a very small amount of garlic is needed to kill a conure.
Again, they will probably be so put off by the smell that they have no interest in eating it anyway.
Don’t try to give them, or let them at, raw garlic.
Can conures eat cooked garlic?
Cooked, however, really doesn’t make any difference.
There’s still allicin present in cooked garlic, and if anything, the smell will get even stronger.
So, they are, first of all, likely to be even more put off by it.
And, as you may have guessed by now, it’s still full of a dangerous, potentially fatal chemical—the cooking process doesn’t change that.
There’s no form of garlic that is safe for your conure to eat.
Whether it’s cooked, chopped, or whatever you might do to it, garlic always has the chance to cause serious health problems for your conure.
Don’t let them have garlic.
Garlic is simply a no-go, then.
You shouldn’t ever let your conure have any amount of garlic.
It will do it no good and has the potential to do some very serious harm.
There are plenty of other ways you can spice up your conure’s diet that don’t involve potentially fatal blood problems.
Garlic may be delicious to us and may make all the difference between a lovely and a horrible dish, but it’s no good for conures.