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In the wild, birds attempt to hide their illnesses because they are more susceptible to predators when they’re perceived as weak. While this is may be an important survival tactic, it makes it difficult for owners to treat or even detect their bird’s sickness. By the time bird owners recognize their birds are sick, it’s often too late. To avoid this situation, bird owners need to be familiar with the subtle signs of sickness in birds. Take note of any deviation in your bird’s typical behavior and activity – it could save their life!

What to Look Out For

Since most birds won’t show obvious signs of illness at first, owners need to be extra cautious to any changes in their bird’s health. Here are a few things to keep in mind when tending to your pet:

  • Droppings: Droppings are a great indicator of your bird’s health. They excrete soft brown feces, clear urine, and white urates when healthy. If there is a strong odor, the presence of blood, or an unusual amount of droppings, you may want to consult with the veterinarian.
  • Feathers: Prolonged molting, baldness, dullness, picked, bent or broken feathers can be a sign that something’s wrong. This can result in inflammation or swelling, too.
  • Behavior: Take note of changes in your bird’s talking, biting, or eating habits. Different behaviors, like walking, talking, sleeping, should be observed regularly. Obvious signs are extreme lethargy, trembling, wheezing, and sneezing.
  • Weight loss: Birds may ruffle their feathers frequently when they aren’t feeling well. See if your bird has lost any weight recently or had a change in appetite.

There are many ways your pet could exhibit their symptoms. The key is to know what their regular patterns, so you can spot any fluctuations.

Causes of Illnesses

The cause of your pet’s illness could be anything, but there common problems that can easily be addressed. Poor living conditions or change in diet are the first suspects when your bird gets sick. Bacteria and viruses can easily get transmitted to pets when they live in unhealthy environments or eat contaminated food. Any of the following could be causing your bird’s illness:

  • Sandpaper perches
  • Polluted air (cigarette smoke, pesticides, toxic fumes, asbestos, cleaning fluids)
  • Dirty cages (mold, fungus, rust, droppings)
  • Mite boxes or sprays
  • Small toys that could be ingested
  • Mosquitos

Common diseases in birds include Salmonella, Trichomoniasis, Avian pox, mites and lice, and aspergillosis. The best way to prevent the spread of these diseases is to keep their feeders and homes clean. Bird feed should be stored in airtight containers to avoid spoilage and mold.

Emergency Situations

When the illness has progressed far enough, certain symptoms may become extremely clear. Convulsing, vomiting, diarrhea, change in breathing, discharge from the mouth, or collapse are all emergency situations. At this point, pet owners should take to the bird vet as soon as possible. For the time before you and your bird are able to see a veterinarian, it’s important to keep the bird at an ideal temperature and provide them with food as necessary. 80-85 degrees is ideal temperature for birds. They should have water and food available to keep them nourished.

If you find yourself in an avian emergency, give us a call at Brookhurst Animal Medical Center. Our Anaheim veterinarian, Dr. Lauren Heit, is experienced with exotic animals like birds. As soon as you notice something is amiss, please contact us so we can diagnose and treat your bird before the problem gets worse.