Diseases In Birds

Whether a beautiful macaw, the typical budgerigar with a loving partner, or small agaponids, the world of birds that are kept as pets in this country is very diverse.

However, many now firmly believe that these animals do not need nearly as much affection and care as other animals do.

Of course you have to deal more with a dog or a cat, but with the purchase of birds you also take on a great responsibility that should not be underestimated.

In addition to sufficient space and valuable food, species-appropriate husbandry, including free flight and conspecifics, is very important. But even if everything fits, it can happen again and again that the beloved feathered animals get sick.

It is always important to consult a veterinarian to ensure the bird receives the best possible medical care. In this article we want to introduce you to the most common diseases in birds.

How do birds get sick

The many different diseases in birds naturally have very different causes and symptoms. So there are some which cannot be avoided by the owner, but precautions can also be taken for other bird diseases.

So it is always important to ensure proper hygiene and to observe the animals. Birds show the diseases from the beginning and only very minimally and it is not easy for the owner to recognize the sick bird right away. However, this is completely natural.

Birds in the wild have to make sure that other birds of prey don’t spot them so quickly when they’re sick, so they’ve learned to suppress symptoms and keep going for as long as possible without giving a damn. Even if they are already in severe pain.

Bird diseases at a glance

Aspergillosis in Birds

Aspergillosis is a truly horrible disease that unfortunately kills many animals. It is also known as a mold disease. This pure infectious disease is highly contagious and affects the organs of the animals during the course of the disease, with the heart, kidneys and bronchi being particularly affected.

Unfortunately, many owners are hardly able to recognize this disease early on, as it comes very close to a cold. However, if the disease has progressed so far that it has affected the animal’s nervous system, unfortunately there is no longer any help. This bird disease is one of the most common and at the same time most feared diseases that can occur in parrots as well as ornamental birds and all other bird species.

As a bird owner, however, you should not get scared every time your animal sneezes, because not every respiratory infection is caused by aspergillosis in birds.

Egg failure in birds

What may sound harmless at first can quickly lead to death in female birds. The egg failure in birds is also a disease that occurs quite frequently, whereby the bird egg gets stuck in the oviduct or in the cloaca. The affected bird lady is now no longer able to expel the bird egg.

The laying not itself is fairly easy to spot. Affected females are very languid and often emit painful cries. They are often found in the corners of the floor. In addition, female birds now try to press hard, which often results in very thin droppings. But now you as the owner can help to save your darling.

A heat lamp in combination with castor oil and a light massage helps. However, if you do not have enough experience, it is always a good decision to consult the veterinarian. Of course, it is also important that the egg inside the bird is not inflamed. However, females that are intended for breeding and who have had problems laying eggs should be excluded from breeding in the future.

Psittacosis in birds

Psittacosis is also known as parrot disease. This has a very special property – it can be transferred to humans. Typical symptoms include headaches and body aches, cough and fever. In particularly severe cases, an enlargement of the spleen and a slowdown in heart activity can also be observed. Symptoms that occur less frequently include severe shortness of breath, hepatitis, meningitis or, unfortunately, sudden cardiac death. Unfortunately, this disease often leads to death, especially in the elderly or small children. This also affects people who have a weak immune system.

Avian pox in birds

Birdpox is a viral infection. The most dangerous of these diseases is also known as canary pox. In the past, eleven different types of birdpox could be identified, all of which are fatal to the animals. The typical symptoms include the formation of blisters on the bird’s beak, the eyes and the legs of the animals. At some point the blisters will burst and then scar.

In most bird pox species, these heal so well that after a while they can hardly be seen. In addition to the blisters, the typical cold symptoms and shortness of breath are also signs. As soon as these are already recognizable, the birdpox lead to the death of the animals even more quickly. This is a particularly aggressive disease that is highly contagious. Once a bird has become infected with it, the disease can spread to the entire shoe. Since it usually takes a while before the first signs can be seen, it is often too late by the time owners recognize them as such. Unfortunately, no means has yet been found to eradicate this bird disease. However, researchers are working on developing a vaccine.

Going Light Down in Birds

The Going Light Down bird disease affects budgerigars in particular, although other bird species can of course also be affected. Even if the name does not suggest it, there is a very insidious and usually even fatal disease behind it, whereby one initially assumes that the animal is healthy. Affected animals eat a lot and still lose weight, which is because the animals’ digestive tract can no longer digest the food. With this disease, it is important that it is treated quickly with the medication provided for this purpose, otherwise the animals have no chance of recovery. Going to the vet is therefore inevitable and the only chance the animal has left.

Goitre in birds

Goiter inflammation mainly occurs in animals that are unfortunately kept individually, which is anything but species-appropriate. Unfortunately, many bird keepers are now turning to plastic birds or mirrors. But that is absolutely not in order under animal welfare law. So the birds are just pretending to be their partner, which, if you really think about it, is very mean. Affected birds now naturally want to feed their partner and regurgitate the food. However, of course, the sad truth is that the reflection or the plastic bird will never accept this loving gesture, so the birds swallow it all. However, they have not learned from this, because the hope that it is a real partner after all dies last, so that the retching and swallowing causes the mucous membrane to become very sore. Bacteria or germs can of course also form here. But gnawing on artificial objects can also lead to goiter inflammation. Indoor plants, which are poisonous to the animals, are often gnawed at, which can also lead to extreme irritation of the mucous membranes. Various fungal infections can also trigger the disease. Affected animals vomit the last food. Now it is important that you visit a vet who can now take a swab test. Once the disease is confirmed, drug treatment is initiated.

Diarrhea in birds

Many birds suffer from diarrhea quite frequently. That doesn’t mean that you should take this disease lightly. Diarrhea can quickly become dangerous for the small spring animals. Affected birds quickly become weak or even dehydrated. The cause of diarrhea in birds is often the wrong food, which should be reconsidered in this case. But psychological reasons are also possible. Unfortunately, diarrhea can also quickly lead to a bad intestinal disease. If the diarrhea is bloody, it may be that the bird has poisoned itself or is suffering from an intestinal tumor. The trip to the vet should therefore not be delayed for too long, because only here can animals be properly treated with medication.

Encephalitis in birds

Like any other living creature, birds’ brains and nervous systems can be severely damaged by mold, bacteria and germs. As a result of such an infection, it can quickly happen that the bird gets encephalitis. Affected animals are now very weak and often tilt their heads. They are shaking and some are even paralyzed. If the disease has progressed further, the bird can no longer sit alone on the perch and it is no longer able to take in food. In this case, a veterinarian must now decide how to proceed and, in the worst case, put the animal out of its suffering.

Mycoplasma infection in birds

While this disease was considered very rare a few years ago, it is now one of the most common bird diseases. The pathogens of this disease are able to multiply themselves, which makes healing more difficult. Animals suffering from a mycoplasma infection often have to contend with paroxysmal sneezing and a wet nasal discharge. The upper respiratory tract is often infected, which means that the animals can hardly breathe and the formation of mucus is much higher than normal. If the lower respiratory tract is affected, the animals choke, vomit and suffer from coughing. In addition, the tuning head can be affected, which of course can be heard in the sound. Treatment takes a long time and is difficult, and most animals cannot be cured 100 percent.

Sinusitis in birds

Of course, birds can also suffer from a sinus infection, which is very similar to that of other animals or that of us humans. The mucus is not secreted through the nose but through the mucous membranes. Birds also have these in their sinuses. In affected animals, the area under the eyes becomes very swollen and birds suffer from particularly severe pain, often even writhing. It is important to urgently consult a veterinarian who is familiar with birds. The disease will continue to spread if left untreated. In many birds, the pus must now be removed with the help of a syringe, in severe cases the skin is even cut open. As a bird owner, you can now clean your nose yourself, since the animals cannot do this themselves. In addition, pain therapy is advisable to relieve the animals a little suffering.

Kidney infections in birds

Many owners can hardly recognize a kidney infection, as it is often treated as normal diarrhea. If the animal suffers from diarrhea and also looks very ill, it may be a kidney infection that urgently needs to be clarified. If the disease is very severe, the birds may ooze urine and no longer defecate. In this case, please take your bird to the vet immediately. The plumage around the cloaca is now clogged by the large amount of urine. In addition, it can be noticed that many animals give off a strong and unpleasant odor due to the high stimulus to pee. Now the urine also attacks the skin of the animals, which leads to the development of itchy skin eczema. Most kidney infections are caused by poor nutrition, which of course should be changed urgently. Not drinking enough fluids can also lead to this disease. For this reason, it is important to always ensure that the animals drink enough. Not all birds can be cured, so in some cases the symptoms can only be alleviated.

Trychomonal infection in birds

A trychomonal infection is particularly common in budgerigars, although other bird species can of course also be infected. This is a bird disease caused by parasites that settle in the throat and the mucous membrane of the crop and irritate the mucous membrane. In addition, these can also penetrate further into the tissue and leave serious damage there. Vomiting food is one of the most typical symptoms of this bird disease. The vomit is now mixed with a sticky mucus, so it doesn’t look typical visually. In many animals, a viscous mucus forms on the crop, which is regurgitated in large quantities even without food. With other animals, only a dry retching can be observed, which is then often combined with a sneeze. As an additional symptom, a swelling of the goiter can be observed and the affected animals behave apathetically, fluff up and sleep a lot. Another indication that the bird is suffering from this disease is a foul odor around the beak, although this is not always present. A trychomonad infection in birds is also very contagious for conspecifics, so affected animals should be separated quickly. In order to detect an infestation by these parasites, a crop lavage is carried out, after which the disease can be treated with a drug. Furthermore, a high level of hygiene is very important in the coming period. Among other things, all the vessels used by the bird must be boiled with hot water.

Constipation in birds

Constipation in birds is not uncommon. However, this disease is quite easy and quickly recognizable. Affected birds struggle to defecate or generally have problems with not being able to defecate. Unfortunately, there are many reasons for constipation in birds, which should definitely be eliminated. For example, incorrect nutrition can be the reason, but internal diseases or poisoning often lead to constipation in the animals. If the constipation is still there after a diet change, it is very important that you consult a knowledgeable veterinarian who can treat your bird directly and determine the cause.

Flightlessness in birds

Unfortunately, it happens again and again that a bird suddenly can no longer fly. There are also animals that cannot fly from birth. However, the so-called inability to fly should never be taken lightly, so it is always advisable in such a situation to consult a competent veterinarian who can now examine the affected bird more closely. There are also different causes of this bird disease, which should be examined more closely in order to avoid them in the future or to treat them with medication.

Unfortunately, a very common reason why birds are unable to fly is obesity in the affected animals, which is caused by improper nutrition or insufficient free flight. In addition, it can of course happen again and again that the birds injure their shoulders or wings and can therefore no longer fly. Limb disorders, which can be caused by a virus, as well as coordination disorders and misalignments of the bones are common reasons that prevent the birds from flying.

Many birds that never or only very rarely enjoy free flight can also suffer from a fear of flying, for example. Please don’t get the idea of ​​just throwing your bird in the air. Unfortunately, the rumor still persists that the birds would start flying at that moment, but unfortunately that is wrong. Instead, please see a knowledgeable veterinarian who can take a closer look at the problem and determine the cause of the bird’s flightlessness. Each bird should therefore always decide for itself whether it wants to fly or not. Many birds prefer to climb and rarely fly, which should be perfectly fine with the owner.

Gout in birds

Like humans, birds can also get gout, which is a metabolic disorder that can develop both chronically and acutely. There are different types of this disease, such as renal gout or visceral gout and joint gout. If the disease is already more advanced, both renal and visceral gout can be detected by a blood test at the veterinarian. Unlike these two types of disease, joint gout can be recognized by swollen joints and toes. With joint gout, the joints become stiff as the disease progresses and it can even happen that the toes of the birds simply fall off. Unfortunately, many forms of gout cannot be cured, although you can positively influence the course of the disease and save your pet a little suffering. For example, there are infusions or the administration of blood-purifying tea. Unfortunately, while some animals cope well with the limitations encountered, other birds do not. It is therefore advisable to put animals that suffer too much from their suffering and put them to sleep peacefully.

Liver disorders in birds

Liver disorders can be observed especially in budgerigars. The reason for this is that this bird species is particularly prone to obesity, although other bird species can of course also suffer from liver disorders. This bird disease can be triggered, for example, by a tumor or an inflammation. In many birds, the liver disorder cannot be detected at all. It is particularly common for bird owners to only notice this when the disease is very advanced. Birds then show, for example, a sudden ametropia or drowsiness. Many birds also tremble or suffer from disorientation. Many animals are now also experiencing increased beak growth in combination with deformities of the beak, which is exactly the time when a veterinarian should be consulted urgently. In some animals, a change in the faeces can now also be determined, which is now greenish in color and the yellow content in the urine is now also very high. In order to determine the liver values, the veterinarian must now carry out a blood test and an X-ray is also one of the typical measures for such a diagnosis. Affected birds now have to change their diet. Depending on the bird’s liver disorder, treatment can work quickly or result in a chronic disease, meaning affected animals are dependent on medication and special diets for the rest of their lives.

Broken beaks in birds

Unfortunately, what sounds harmless at first can end very badly. A broken beak in a bird can also mean death for the animal. This is the case when the rest of the beak that is left is too short for independent feeding. As soon as a larger piece of beak has broken off, you should definitely consult a veterinarian. Under certain circumstances, this person can glue the piece of the beak back on. With larger parrots, the piece of beak can often be attached with the help of a wire loop.

Unfortunately, however, the chances are very small as soon as the beak has broken too far back. If this is the case, you should consult with the veterinarian whether it would be better for the animal to have it euthanized.

In addition to the complete fracture, a so-called beak splitting can also occur. But this also needs to be examined by a vet urgently, since the splitting is also very dangerous and painful for the animals. Please also talk to the veterinarian about which food would be the best. The animal may even need your help with feeding.

Our final word on the subject of bird diseases

In this article, we have introduced you to numerous bird diseases, although there are of course many other diseases. It is always important that you always observe your animal closely because only then will you quickly recognize the respective changes or problems. In these cases, please do not take too much time, but consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. Even if you don’t mean it, birds are also in a lot of pain and can suffer a lot.

In addition, sick animals should always be separated from other conspecifics to avoid infection. With species-appropriate husbandry, which not only guarantees employment opportunities and high-quality feed but also daily excursions, you are doing everything right and can thus avoid numerous diseases.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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