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How to Spot the Signs of Illness in Your Pet Bird

With the proper care and a good balanced diet, your pet bird should enjoy the best of health. A variety of pet bird health products are also available to help you tackle common problems. Insecticides. Wormers, wound ointments and spot-on treatments for lice and mites will all help you to keep your bird healthy but how can you tell if they are sick?

Understand Your Bird

If you witness worrying behaviour or unusual symptoms then it is time to leave the pet bird health products at home and to seek the advice of your vet. It really helps if you can get to know well what your bird’s normal behaviour and appearance is. You will then have a better chance of detecting any worrying signs early.

The First Signs of Illness

If a bird is unwell then you will observe changes to their condition and behaviour. If there is no obvious reason for these then your bird probably has an issue with its health.

Abnormal Droppings

You should always keep a close eye on your bird’s droppings as any changes provide a useful early warning of trouble. Look out for droppings which are larger than usual, discoloured (particularly green), very wet or smelly. You should also be concerned if the droppings contain undigested seed. Healthy droppings are small, have a white cap, do not smell and do not have wet areas surrounding them.


If your bird is normally bright and active but then becomes lethargic and sleepy then they are probably feeling under the weather.

Changes in Personality

If your pet is sick then it may become less vocal, less sociable and more aggressive. Any such behaviour should be investigated.

Changes to Feather Condition

Birds often appear fluffed up when they are ill. Sick birds may also exhibit deformed feathers and their feathers may fail to grow. However, broken feathers are not a sign of disease.

Weight Loss

Any unexplained weight loss should be investigated. A healthy bird’s weight will fluctuate a little but any loss that exceeds 10% of their body weight is cause for concern. When a bird is underweight its breastbone becomes more prominent so look out for this.

Respiratory Issues

Sneezing, coughing (like a clicking sound), difficulty in breathing and discharge from the nostrils are all signs that your bird is sick.

Eye Trouble

Discharge from the eyes, swollen or crusty eyelids, cloudy eyes and bulging eyes are all signs of illness.

Neurological Symptoms

These include bizarre behaviour like repeated circling together with seizures and paralysis.

Other Signs of Trouble

You should also look out for swollen joints, wing, leg and toe deformities, the favouring of one leg over the other and wings held in strange positions. Poor growth is also an indicator of health issues.

If you get to know your bird well from the outset and monitor its demeanour then you should be able to spot the signs of illness very quickly. The sooner any health problems are identified and treated, the better the chance that your bird will make a full recovery.


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