Parakeets, just like any other type of pet, can have numerous medical problems. A parakeet's health issues range from simple injuries to complicated viral infections. Parasites, disease and toxins can lead to a variety of ailments in parakeets, but often inadequate nutrition is the predominant cause for most troubles.
Recognizing Medical Problems
How do you know your parakeet has a medical problem? Aside from obvious traumatic injuries, parakeets will exhibit a number of physical signs often apparent to owners. Since parakeets are very active and vocal birds, decreased activity and reduced chatter may indicate possible medical issues. Some physical symptoms of medical problems include excessive scratching, feather loss, sneezing, diarrhea, vomiting, fluffed feathers, decreased appetite and weight loss. Take your parakeet to see a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment of all medical problems.
Parakeets cannot live on bird seed alone. Food pellets, supplemented with fruits and vegetables, is best. Many seed diets do not have enough vitamin A, minerals or protein, and parakeets develop nutritional deficiencies that require veterinary care. Vitamin A is needed for vision, red blood cells and a healthy immune system, while calcium and phosphorus keep bones healthy. Keeping your parakeet's immune system functioning properly with a balanced diet helps your bird avoid medical problems.
Injury and Toxins
Since parakeets are curious creatures, they tend to get into places they don't belong. Such investigation can result in body injuries, poisoning and digestive upset. Parakeets may eat small items, such as prescription pills, rodent poison, plant food and salt. Toxic poisoning by these items leads to medical problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, difficulty breathing and death. Certain plants can be poisonous, as well as fumes from non-stick cookware, air fresheners, tobacco, paint and cleaning products.
Diseases cause a variety of medical problems for parakeets. A bacterial disease called chlamydia psittaci is spread between birds and can be contagious to humans. It causes respiratory medical problems. Viruses, such as beak and feather virus, avian polyomavirus or avian influenza, cause medical problems like abnormal feathers, diarrhea, and pneumonia. Malnutrition and poor hygiene gives aspergillus fungus a chance to invade a parakeet's nasal cavity, which causes sinus swelling and congestion.
Parsites, both internal or external, lead to numerous medical problems for parakeets. Protozoal parasites, such as trichomonas, can invade a parakeet's throat and cause medical problems, such as coughing, sneezing and low appetite. External mites or lice cause itching, feather loss, crusty skin and sometimes anemia. Parakeets with intestinal worms like roundworms, hairworms or threadworms will often have weight loss, depression and general ill health.
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Sick Pet Birds-Recognizing a Sick Bird
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: General Bird Care
- Animal Poison Control Center: ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Offers Pet Poison Safety Tips for Bird Owners
- Centers for Disease Control: Diseases from Birds
- Merck Veterinary Manual: Caged Birds-Aspergillosis
- Hartz: Parasites and Your Bird
Based in Michigan, Keri Gardner has been writing scientific journal articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in such journals as "Disability and Rehabilitation" and "Journal of Orthopaedic Research." She holds a Master of Science in comparative medicine and integrative biology from Michigan State University.