Common Healthcare Issues in Pet Birds

Common Healthcare Issues in Pet Birds

Birds have been kept as pets for many years, and there are lots of different species to choose from. They are intelligent creatures; many species of bird can be trained to speak, or perform tricks, but like all pets, there certain illnesses or healthcare problems they are susceptible to.

As a pet bird parent, it is important you understand what these health issues are to not only help treat them, but also prevent them

Dr Bobby Ortiz, small and exotic pet vet, posing with a bunny patient

Dr. Bobby Ortiz, M.V.B.

Dr Bobby Ortiz, aka 'Dogtor Bob', is a small animal and exotic veterinarian based in Dublin. He has a strong interest in Small Mammal (rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets) and Reptile medicine and surgery.

He grew up in a family of avid animal lovers, which led him to work as an Aquarist at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific in California. It was there he decided he wanted to become a vet, and specialise in exotic animals, that needed the same care and medical attention that dogs and cats are given.

He lives with his wife and Brittany Spaniel Bodhi, and has dreams to build a new tropical marine fish tank in the near future!

Health Problems in Pet Birds

If you notice any of these healthcare issues in your pet bird, it is important they are taken to see a veterinarian right away, preferably one that specialises in exotic pets.


Obesity is an issue encountered with all pet birds. It can stem from poor diet and not enough exercise. To counteract this, make sure your bird is on a varied and healthy diet of formulated bird mixes, fruit, vegetables, and seeds. Older birds on high fat seed-based diets often suffer from diseases such as atherosclerosis (fat deposits in major arteries) and fatty liver disease (hepatic lipidosis). This, along with confinement to their cages, having their wings trimmed to thwart flight, and very little, if any, exercise, are all contributing factors to obesity and other associated problems.

2. Poor Feather Quality

Feathers serve an important role for your pet bird. They provide insulation, allows them to stay dry, blend in, easily identity other species, helps them with mating, and of course, take flight. If you notice your bird with tattered or dull feathers, this could be a sign of a health issue. Bald patches may also appear and you may notice stress bars. Your bird could be suffering from allergies, skin irritation, baldness or cysts. These could be brought on from excessive plucking due to stress, boredom, lack of space in cage, sexual frustration or isolation. Ensure your bird is getting plenty of exercise and a healthy, balanced diet each day, and that he has plenty of room in his cage.

yellow parrot in cage with seeds

3. Lack of Appetite

Bird not eating his food? They could be suffering from stress in their new environment. If you’ve recently adopted a pet bird, they could still be getting used to their new home and could take a few days to settle in. All the new sights, smells and sounds could be threatening for your bird, so give it some time before they warm up.

If your bird has randomly stopped eating his food for no apparent reason, it could be the sign of a more serious underlying condition. Take them to your local vet, one that specialises in exotic pets/pet birds if possible. Depending on what other symptoms your bird is experiencing, a faecal and/or blood test may be carried out to determine if parasites or other infections are the issue.

Luckily, some antibiotics will help out some of the most common types of infections. Follow your veterinarian’s advice step by step.

4. Discharge from eyes, nose, mouth

Sneezing is normal in birds, but if you notice frequent sneezing/discharge from the nose or mouth, it could be a symptom of something more serious, such as a respiratory disease.

If you notice discharge from the eyes or squinting, increased blinking, swollen eye lids or a cloudy cornea, be sure to bring your bird to the vet for medical attention. It could be parasites, a virus, poor hygienic conditions, ulcers or an environmental toxin exposure (such as smoke from cigarettes or other airborne toxins).

It is essential that if you notice any of these issues in your bird, to contact your local aviation veterinarian for assistance and guidance. Be careful not to stress your bird out when transporting them to the vet, and make sure they are in a dark, quiet box with lots of ventilation.

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