Educational Articles

Birds + Medical Conditions

  • Proventricular dilatation disease (PDD) is a very serious and often deadly disease affecting a wide variety of parrot species. Symptoms often involve one of the following conditions; vomiting, weight loss, passing undigested seeds in the stool or show neurologic signs. Avian Bornavirus infection has been linked in some cases to PDD.

  • Psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD) is a serious condition in parrot species for which there is no cure. The highly contagious virus attacks fast-growing epithelial cells, commonly causing visibly abnormal formations of the beak and/or feather follicles. The clinical signs vary depending on the species of bird and the age at which it was infected. Diagnostic testing is available and precautions must be taken when purchasing a new bird.

  • In the wild, a bird will try to uphold a strong appearance when sick. By the time a pet bird begins to display symptoms of illness, it has likely been sick for several days to weeks. Many things contribute to ill health. This handout provides bird owners with a list of signs that will alert them that their bird is sick.

  • Respiratory disease is common in birds and can be caused by infection with bacteria, fungus, or parasites; by exposure to aerosolized toxins or environmental irritants; or by pressure on the respiratory tract from enlarged organs or tumors. Birds can have varying signs, such as coughing, sneezing, ocular or nasal discharge, or difficulty breathing. Any bird showing respiratory tract signs should be examined and tested by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Over-the-counter medications from pet stores are not recommended for treating sick birds.

  • Seizures are reasonably common in pet birds and should be treated as a medical emergency. Species that are often affected include Amazon parrots, African grey parrots, budgies, canaries, cockatiels, finches, and lovebirds. There are several possible causes of seizures in birds. Diagnostic testing is often required so that your veterinarian can diagnose the problem and determine the necessary treatment plan.

  • Telemedicine is defined as the act of practicing medicine at a distance. Telemedicine can be offered in a number of different ways: telephone calls, text messaging, online chat, email consultations, and visits conducted through videoconferencing programs. Telemedicine is not appropriate for every concern, such as a pet hit by a car; however, a number of common veterinary complaints can be addressed via telemedicine (e.g., flea allergies, minor limping, mild diarrhea). While it is impossible to perform a complete, comprehensive exam during a telemedicine appointment, in many cases your veterinarian can gather enough information to arrive at a reasonable diagnosis and start treatment. If your veterinarian determines that your pet requires in-person care, your veterinarian can help you determine when and where your pet should be seen and may be able to give you an idea of what to expect during the in-person veterinary visit.

  • Wellness testing, performed routinely on apparently healthy birds, screens for underlying, hidden problems. Veterinarians also use test results in conjunction with physical examination findings and the owner's account of the bird's history to diagnose illnesses. Blood tests include the complete blood count and chemistry profile. Other tests your veterinarian may use to assess your bird's health and diagnose disease are discussed.