Common Parakeet Illness Symptoms

It's easy to overlook parakeet illness symptoms if you don't know how to recognize them. Birds instinctively try to hide symptoms of illness so predators won't recognize their weakness and attack. Keep a careful eye out for these changes in parakeet behavior that could indicate a threat to your bird's health.

  • Lethargy: If your parakeet is sleeping more than normal, pay attention. Another sign to watch for is a bird sitting on the bottom of the cage or unable to remain on a perch.
  • Loose Stools: If your parakeet is having loose stools, defecating more than normal or is producing stools that are unusual in shape or form, start looking for other signs of illness. Stool changes that persist for several days generally indicate illness. 
  • Excessive Fluffiness: Can a bird be too fluffy? If your bird is sick, it will puff itself up to try to stay warm and to look bigger than it is. A constantly fluffy parakeet can be a sick bird.
  • Loss of Appetite: Watch out if your bird is not eating as much as normal or has lost weight.
  • Discharge from Eyes or Nose: Your bird's nostrils should be clean, dry and clear. Likewise the eyes should not ooze.
  • Excessive Squawking: If your bird has been loud and demanding lately, it may be because he has an upset stomach or some sort of pain.

Many of the most common threats to parakeet health can only be confirmed with blood tests or stool tests performed by your local avian veterinarian. You should bring your parakeet into the vet for annual exams and to check for the following common parakeet illnesses:

  • Aspergillosis: This respiratory condition is caused by a fungal infection. It usually occurs in birds that are stressed or held in poor conditions.
  • Candidiasis: Think of this as a yeast infection for birds. Basically this manifests itself as an overgrowth of yeast, usually in the digestive tract. It sometimes appears in the feathers, reproductive tract or other parts of the body.
  • Diarrhea: Just like people, parakeets get intestinal infections from bacteria and viruses.
  • Thyroid Gland Enlargement: Parakeet can have issues with thyroid gland production and function.
  • Pacheco's Disease: This disease is caused by a group of herpes viruses. It is almost always fatal and is usually not detected until the parakeet is on its deathbed. Parakeets that do survive this disease are considered infectious for life, so they cannot be kept in homes with other birds.
  • Psittacosis: Also called Chlamidiosis, this disease is a form of Chlamydia that can be transferred from birds to humans. It is a very rare disease that causes discharge from the nose and eyes, diarrhea and labored breathing in parakeets. When contracted by humans, it produces flu-like symptoms. If you contract flu-like symptoms, be sure to mention to your doctor that you have intimate contact with parakeets, especially if your parakeet has been acting ill as well. While humans have contracted very few cases, some of these cases have resulted in deaths, so it's worth keeping an eye out for this.
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