Having a precious and beautiful pet bird such as the cockatiel, it certainly demands attention and you need to stay vigilant, especially when you think that your cockatiel is sneezing frequently or showing signs of an illness.
A common question that comes up from proud cockatiel owners is “Why is my cockatiel sneezing?” It is not uncommon for parrots to sneeze, especially cockatiels, as they are the dustiest ones! Just like humans, cockatiels often tend to sneeze. They sneeze due to the dust that becomes trapped into their feathers. However, it could also be a sign of an underlying sickness or health condition such as a respiratory issue.
As stated above, it is not uncommon for cockatiels to sneeze, but frequent sneezing can be bad news. Cockatiels, like other birds, discharge a thin and transparent fluid once or twice a day while sneezing, which is their way of clearing their airways of dust particles and debris.
However, when this thin and clear fluid turns thick and colored, this is a signal that your bird is sick.
Reasons Your Cockatiel is Sneezing
These species of parrots originate from environments with tropical climates, however, they have evolved with time.
With climate changes around the world, they can now adapt to humid conditions and constant temperatures, which is good news for a pet lover, however being indoor pets, they deal with more changes than you may assume.
Although sneezing is an involuntary action that helps humans and animals in clearing their nasal pathways of any dust particles that get trapped, frequent sneezing may be a sign that your beloved pet might be falling ill or suffering from an underlying health condition that could also be fatal.
Cockatiels are small creatures, therefore you might not hear the loud, ear-numbing sound you are used to when sitting beside someone sneezing. Moreover, you may only hear a click sound from a cockatiel when it coughs as compared to the cough sound produced by humans.
Therefore, you will need to keep a close eye on your cockatiel to spot the early signs of illness.
Some of the common reasons why your cockatiel may be sneezing include:
- Dust particles in the air or trapped dander and dirt in the cockatiel’s feathers
Fact: Cockatiel feathers create more powder and dust than any other species or breeds.
- Your cockatiel resides in a corner where there is almost no passage of air.
- Seed or food particles getting stuck in the nostrils can also cause sneezing and a runny nose.
- Harsh cleaning chemicals used around the house can affect your cockatiel’s respiratory system, causing it to sneeze more often. (You can clean your birdcage with vinegar which is totally free of chemicals, obviously. More on that in this article. You should try it!)
- Dealing with long periods of dry air and fluctuating temperatures (like winters, air-conditioning, etc.) dries the bird’s nasal passage, causing sneezing. (If the temperature is right, you can spray your Cockatiel with water. Here is how!)
Signs and Symptoms to Lookout for
- Fluffing of feathers (There are various reasons why your Cockatiel is puffed up. We show you 5 reasons in this article.)
- Watery Eyes
- Keeping eyes closed
- Voice changes
- Failure to perch (We explain why birds do not fall from a perch even when they sleep in this article. So if your Cockatiel is unable to perch, this is usually a pretty bad sign. Get to the vet!)
- Thick and colored nasal discharge
- Weight loss
- Tail Bobbling (If your Cockatiel is wagging his tail pretty often, you should read our article on that here. You should not ignore that!)
- Audible Sneezing
- Excessive Screeching (A screaming Cockatiel is not always a sick Cockatiel. If your Cockatiel is screaming often, you should read our article on that here: 5 Reasons Why Your Cockatiel Is Screaming All The Time)
- Changes in their droppings (A Cockatiel’s poop can tell you a lot about their health. We have created a huge Cockatiel Poop Guide which will show you exactly how to tell whether or not your Cockatiel is healthy by looking at their droppings. Read it here!)
Possible Diseases Associated With Excessive Sneezing
While one sneeze is not a death knoll, if it continues, you may have to run to a veterinarian for immediate treatment.
Birds are more susceptible to respiratory diseases since they have fragile and complex respiratory systems than other animals, therefore it is recommended that you keep them out of drafts.
Here are some more common diseases in cockatiels associated with excessive sneezing:
Abnormal breathing or difficulty in breathing is one of the most common problems your cockatiel may be struggling with. This is often caused due to the inhaling of millet seeds and other small seeds you may be providing to your pet in their diet.
It is a high-pitched whistle-like sound as a result of difficult breathing. It is often heard while exhaling but in severe cases, it can even be heard while inhaling. Wheezing is caused by inflammation or narrowed airways.
It is often due to dust particles or seeds trapped in the nostrils.
Pneumonia is a lung infection caused by a bacterial or viral infection. The air sacs may become solid, filling with pus and affect one or both lungs, causing acute or chronic pneumonia.
Continuous, colored discharge from nostrils
Continuous discharge from nostrils is a clear sign that your bird is getting sick. Sneezing once or twice a day comes within the normal respiratory cycle of birds, but when the frequency increases, along with wheezing and difficulty in breathing, it is a red flag!
You will notice its thin and clear mucus turning thick and colored, which should hint you that your bird is coming down with the flu or something more serious.
Vitamin A deficiency
One cause of a cockatiel’s runny nose may also be the lack of Vitamin A in his / her diet. Like humans, malnutrition is one of the reasons your bird may be coming down with flu.
Ways to Prevent Excessive Sneezing
The best way to nurse your bird back to health is to take an appointment with your local veterinarian immediately or to keep them on speed dial as soon as you notice the symptoms of excessive sneezing.
Here are some other things that you can do to makes sure that your cockatiel remains healthy and happy:
- Use a spray bottle to shower your cockatiel with warm water daily, or give them a full shower twice a week, at least! Then let them dry naturally.
- Clean the cage twice a week, at least.
- Try to keep them as far away from the kitchen as possible.
- Keep them in a room where you occasionally open the window and let fresh air inside.
- Avoid using potpourri, air fresheners and similar chemical containing air fillers.
- Supply them with minerals and vitamin A-rich foods. Make sure you include green-leafy vegetables in their diet, as well as red or orange fruits. Seed-addicted birds love germinated or sprouted seeds since they are lower in fats and high in chlorophyll, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.
- Removal of foreign objects from the nasal pathway and cleaning any dry secretions (may require anesthesia)
- Flushing of sinuses or nostrils with antifungal and antibiotic medications
- Administration of antifungal and antibiotic medications via injection or orally, or its application directly into sinuses or nostrils
- Surgical removal of tumors, if any
- Annual checkups with your veterinarian are recommended to maintain your cockatiel’s health.
When taking your cockatiel to the vet, make sure that you keep him / her warm. Try covering the cage with a blanket or something warmer so that you can control the temperature inside the cage.
Cockatiels are beautiful birds and they deserve our utmost attention, love, and care. Having a pet bird is a lot of work, and if you are sure you can put up with it and cater to their needs, you will enjoy the company of one of the most beautiful companions in the world!
Why do Cockatiels bite their feet?
If your Cockatiel has been biting its feet, it may be suffering from a metabolic disorder or an allergy. It is best to consult your vet if you suspect that your bird may be suffering from an underlying health condition.
Are Cockatiels affectionate pets?
Cockatiels are known to be gentle and affectionate pets, and they love interacting with their owners.
Do Cockatiels like to be touched?
Since Cockatiels are warm and loving creatures, they love being held and will be happy to stick around with their owners.