Thursday, October 29, 2009

Common Cockatiel Dieases

Maintaining your cockatiel's health should always be your top priority.

If you want to have your cockatiel friend in your life as long as possible you need to provide a nutritious diet, entertainment, a decent size cage, and plenty of love.

However, one of the most vital ways to maintain your bird's health is often overlooked: knowing the signs of a sick bird and understanding the diseases that most commonly affect tiels.

Knowing the signs of a sick cockatiel are so important because like other bird species cockatiels hide their illnesses as a survival of the fittest technique when in the wild. Therefore, by the time your cockatiel starts showing any signs of illness she may already be seriously ill and in need of an avian vet ASAP.

Signs your cockatiel is seriously ill and needs to see a vet ASAP include:

  • Respiratory problems/abnormal breathing
  • Tail constantly moving up and down.
  • Discharge from the beak, eyes or nostrils.
  • Face and head feathers coated with mucus and semi-digested seed.
  • Abnormal droppings
  • Abnormal feathers, feather growth, bleeding feathers, or abnormal molt.
  • Drooping head, tail or wings
  • Dull or swollen eyes
  • Falling off the perch
  • Hunched over posture
  • Lumps or swellings on the body
  • Sitting on the bottom of the cage
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

Signs that its time to consult your avian vet:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fluffed up and/or untidy appearance
  • Abnormal droppings
  • Excessive feather picking or plucking
  • Abnormal sleep pattern (continuous, both feet on the perch when normally one foot is tucked up, head tucked under the wing, head turned towards the wing with eyes only partly closed).
  • Any change in normal activities ( talking or whistling, playing with toys, preening, interaction with other birds or humans, energy levels, different perching area).
  • Disorientation
  • Drinking a lot more water than usual.
  • Soiled vent (bottom), tail, or wings.

Checking your cockatiel's behavior and appearance daily will help you to be aware when something is awry.

When Loki was diagnosed with worms I had noticed she was sleeping a lot more than usual throughout the day and was lethargic.

Knowledge of the signs of illness could save your cockatiel's life.

As with all species, there are some diseases that cockatiel's are particularly susceptible to:

  • Malnutrition- this can be prevented by providing your cockatiel with a pellet based diet, cutting back on seed intake, and feeding veggies.
  • Reproductive problems- these include egg binding and chronic egg laying.
  • Wing tumors- these may require amputation.
  • Polyoma- also referred to as Budgerigar fledgling disease; it is passed through bird to bird contact.
  • Candida-most common in cockatiels because they often have malnutrition from an improper diet; it is an infection of too much yeast. Symptoms vary depending on which organ of the bird is affected.

*It can cause problems in the digestive tract, skin, respiratory system, beak, feathers, eyes, and the reproductive tract.

  • Chlamydiosis-(a.k.a parrot fever) this is particularly serious because you can catch this from your bird. Birds do not always show symptoms and can often be carriers, simply spreading the disease to other birds without being sick themselves; cockatiels are notorious for being carriers.
  • Giardia- is a parasite that lives in the intestinal tract. Cockatiels catch this more than any other bird possibly due to a genetic predisposition or immune deficiency. Cockatiels infected with giardia are often asymptomatic.

Most of these diseases occur if your cockatiel comes in contact with an infected bird. This is often the case in pet stores, where conditions may not be up to par and there are many birds in a few cages.

Therefore, it is so important to buy your cockatiel from a pet store that does not overcrowd birds into small cages and looks clean.

Also, you should ALWAYS( no matter how clean the pet store looks) quarantine any new birds that you add to your flock so that you do not infect your other birds.

The other birds should be quarantined for 30 to 60 days. They should be kept in separate cages and preferably in separate rooms. Make sure to wash your hands after touching or playing with the new bird.
You should also take your new bird to your avian vet for a complete check-up and tests, which can rule out many of the disease listed above.

Most of the diseases above can be prevented by following three rules:

  • Check your bird daily for signs of illness and understand the symptoms.
  • Buy your bird(s) from a clean pet store that does not overcrowd its birds.
  • Quarantine any new birds you add to your flock for a minimum of 30 days.

I love Loki so much and by using preventative measures I am ensuring that she will live a long and healthy life.

You can do the same for your bird by simply keeping alert for signs of illness or any change in your bird's behavior.

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