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How to keep your pet bird healthy

What you can do to keep your pet bird healthy

Pet birds can be excellent companion animals, provided they are properly cared for and provided with an interesting and spacious environment. Regular adequate exercise (free flight within a safe enclosed environment) is a prerequisite for healthy, vigorous and fit pet birds. Exercise is necessary for both physical and mental health.

Veterinary advice should always be sought immediately if you suspect that your bird is unwell or if your bird shows any sign of being unwell.

Because illnesses can be such a serious issue for the health of your pet bird, it is important to become familiar with the most troublesome health problems that affect pet birds.

Avian Flu

There are numerous strains of the avian flu -- over 25 subtypes have been identified. There is only one, however, that is considered zoonotic, or contagious to humans: the H5N1 virus.

To ensure your pet bird stays health, do not allow your pet outside without the safety of his cage. If you place your bird's cage outside, watch your bird closely and keep animals and wild birds away.

The second risk factor is the ever-increasing sale of wild caught birds into the pet trade. If you are looking for a pet bird, seek a reputable and experienced breeder to ensure that your new pet is captive bred and healthy.


The most common parasites that will impact the health of your pet bird are:
  • Aspergillosis: This is a parasitic fungus which affects your pet bird's respiratory system.
  • Giardia: Giardia is a parasite that attacks the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Roundworms: Another "stomach bug," Roundworms are one of the easiest health issues to recognize in birds.
  • Sarcocystis: this is fatal to birds. Symptoms include lethargy, shortness of breath, tail bobbing, yellow tinted droppings, and sudden death.
  • Scaly Face Mites: Causing itchy, dry lesions, Scaly Face Mites can wreak havoc on a bird's skin and plumage.

Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD)

Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease or PBFD is a devastating virus that can affect all members of the Psittacine family i.e hookbills. Members of the parrot family are hookbills. Symptoms of PBFD include feather loss, abnormal feather development, absence of powder down, beak growths, lesions, and abnormalities. There is currently no known treatment for PBFD.

There are a number of methods of testing for Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease. These include biopsy, blood tests, and feather diagnostics. If you suspect that your bird might have PBFD, see an avian vet as soon as you possibly can.

Stress in birds

There are a number of signs that show that bird is suffering from stress.

  • Stress bars: these are small lines that run horizontally across the shafts of a bird's feathers. These can be caused by other factors, but are a red flag that you need to look closely at the health of your bird.
  • Aggression: the sudden onset of aggression in a pet bird is another indicator that the bird is experiencing stress in its environment. Aggressive behavior includes biting, hissing, lunging and excessive screaming. Go and see your vet to rule out any possible health problems with your pet bird.
  • Loss of Appetite: if your bird suddenly begins to show less interest in eating, it can be an indicator of stress or health problems. Go and see your vet to make sure that your bird is not sick or injured.
  • Fearful behaviour: if a bird that is normally happy to be handled suddenly begins to act fearful of you or other family members, then it's highlighly likely that there is something about that person is causing the stress in your pet bird. It may be something as simple as a brightly colored shirt, a hat, a new beard or moustache.
  • Destructive behavior: The most common cause of destructive behaviour in pet birds is boredom. Pet birds are intelligent creatures and need healthy amount of mental stimulation. If they don't receive this it will frustration, stress, undesirable behaviors, and even health issues.
Bird health issues
  • Avian Flu: this is mainly in chicken and farm birds, but your pet bird can be at risk if allowed contact with wild birds.
  • Parasites: can cause respiratory and gastrointestinal problems, and wreak havoc on a bird's skin and plumage.
  • Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD): a deadly virus that causes abnormal beak and feather growth and lesions.
  • Stress:  look out for stress bars on your birds plumage, aggression, lost of appetite, fearful or destructive behaviour.

Contact Lion Bridge for all your pet bird health products.

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