Have you seen your pet parrot sneezing or showing other symptoms of a possible respiratory problem?
As a pet owner, it’s quite terrifying to see your beloved feathered friend in such a state of discomfort and to make matters worse, you probably have no idea what to do in such kind of situations.
But what exactly is causing your parrot to sneeze in the first place, and what can you do about it?
Normally, parrots sneeze one to two times a day to clear its air pathways of dust and other irritants. However, when it becomes more frequent and persistent and is accompanied by a thick and colored nasal discharge, it could well be a sign that your bird is sick.
Parrots generally lead exceptionally long lives, but that doesn’t exactly mean that they can’t contract illnesses over time. There are many potential causes of sneezing in birds that you need to be aware of.
Knowing these causes can help you get to the root of the problem and determine the proper action to take.
Different causes of sneezing in parrots
There are many causes of sneezing in parrots. While these aren’t a cause for concern, some may indicate a more serious medical condition. Here are some of them.
- Your parrot’s environment is too dry
Most parrots are well-adapted to humid environments. Dry environments or indoor air that is air-conditioned or heated can dry up your bird’s nasal passages, which can cause irritation and sneezing.
If you live in a pretty dry environment or if your parrot is constantly perched in an air-conditioned space, a simple humidifier might just do the trick.
You can even take a shower with your parrot which might help to get rid of the problem. Here is how to shower with your parrot properly!
- Your parrot is constantly exposed to dust
Just like with us humans, dust can trigger sneezing in parrots once it lands in their nasal cavity. It can irritate their nasal pathways and force them to sneeze in response.
Keeping your home clean and free from dust can help manage your parrot’s sneezing episodes. You can do this by regularly dusting their cage and surrounding furniture with a feather duster and regularly replacing your air filters at home.
Some species are more dusty than others. If you have one of the following birds, you should read the one of the three articles below:
Indian Ringnecks – How dusty are they?
- Your parrot is exposed to strong odors
Strong odors such as chemicals and fragrances can also irritate your feathered friend’s nasal passageways and lungs. You have to remember that parrots, or birds in general, don’t have a robust respiratory system like us humans.
This is why it’s imperative to avoid all kinds of artificial fragrances such as perfumes, scented candles, room sprays, and diffusers around your parrot to be safe.
- Your parrot is allergic to its food
Allergens can be something in the air and it can also be something ingested through the mouth, or in this case, through your bird’s beak. If you see your parrot sneezing after eating on a regular basis, your pet may be allergic to a particular ingredient in its food.
Try feeding your parrot a different bird food brand and see if it helps. Bird food of low quality is usually loaded with additives and preservatives that can trigger allergies.
- Your parrot has a mite infestation
Just like dogs and cats, birds can also get mites. If your pet parrot is allergic to mites and happens to have mites, it can also trigger a slew of symptoms such as sneezing.
Apart from sneezing, mite problems can also cause your parrot to pick and pluck its feathers due to discomfort. If you notice your parrot sneezing and picking its feathers, then you might need to see a vet to get your bird’s mite situation sorted out.
- Your parrot is just imitating you
One of the reasons why parrots are highly coveted is because they can mimic hundreds of unique sounds and phrases. They are able to imitate any sound and word with uncanny accuracy—and this includes sneezing.
If your parrot hears you sneeze, they may catch up on this and try to mimic you. So, it’s really important to keep a close eye on your pet and check if there are other symptoms present.
Also, never underestimate your parrot. They are way smarter than you think.
- Your parrot has a respiratory problem
Respiratory diseases in birds are typically accompanied by sneezing and nasal discharge. They are usually caused by viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections, which all warrant a trip to the vet.
When is sneezing a cause for concern
As mentioned earlier, sneezing in parrots is totally normal under certain circumstances. It is their natural response to irritation in their nasal cavity, just like with us humans as well as other animals.
If your pet parrot sneezes once or twice a day and has no other accompanying symptoms, a potential irritant such as dust has probably just found its way in its nasal cavity and your feathered friend is just trying to clear it out.
However, if your parrot’s sneezing is accompanied with symptoms such as nasal discharge, lethargy, inability to perch, watery eyes, voice changes, and fluffing of feathers, then a trip to the vet is in order.
What to expect when you bring your parrot to the vet
If your parrot’s sneezing is persistent, then going to the vet is your best bet. A battery of tests may be in order to be able to accurately diagnose the problem.
Your vet will probably get some blood samples for testing and may suggest x-rays and other radiographic tests as well.
Treating a sneezing parrot
Getting appropriate medical attention is crucial to your pet parrot’s quick recovery. Your vet will create a treatment plan for your parrot, which typically includes a round of medications such as antibiotics or antifungals.
Changes to your parrot’s environment and nutrition may also be in order to eliminate, or at least minimize, the triggers of your pet’s sneezing episodes.
Once the treatment is done and your pet has fully recovered, appropriate preventative measures are necessary to avoid recurrence.
Can parrots feel cold? While parrots naturally thrive in warm and humid environments, that doesn’t mean that they can’t tolerate low temperatures. As a matter of fact, wild parrots acclimated to colder climates can handle temperatures as low as 4.5 degrees Celsius, or around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. However, put in mind that parrots can only tolerate temperatures that they are acclimated to.
Do parrots get colds from humans? Human diseases such as the common cold and flu are not contagious to parrots, or birds in general. They can only get respiratory diseases when exposed to viruses and bacteria that are bird-specific. Nevertheless, it is still a good practice to keep contact with your bird to a minimum while you are sick.
Can parrots transmit diseases to humans? Pet birds such as parrots can harbor diseases that can be contagious to humans. People who are exposed to birds with parrot fever or Psittacosis, Histoplasmosis, and Avian Influenza may experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, and muscle pain.