infections are one of the most common illness in pet birds.
Even well cared for
birds are at risk of becoming sick because exotic birds are not well adapted to the
different types of
bacteria that are commonly found in the home or aviary environment. Pet birds
can get sick from a variety of bacteria that is present in the environment, as
well as bacteria
that is carried by mammals, and bacteria that is a normal part of their
digestive system. Poor nutrition, unsanitary cage conditions, stress and other
factors can all increase the likelihood of a pet cockatiel getting sick. Birds
can also have a sub-clinical infection with no visible symptoms. A
carrier-state bacterial infection is a time bomb situation. Left untreated, it
can lead to severe illness or death. An avian veterinarian should examine all of your birds at least once a year. The
doctor can screen your bird for bacteria, establish a sound nutritional
program and offer preventative advice.
Risk Factors for Bacterial Infections
Seed diets, especially if sprouted
Wild rodents in the environment
Dirty cage, food and water dishes
Water bottles and spray containers not changed daily
Unwashed or improperly stored fruits and vegetables
Under the sink water filters or dirty filters
Perishable food items left out too long
Direct contact with another infected bird or cage mate
Kitchen sponges, wash cloths and rags
Corn cob, walnut shell, wood and litter type cage bedding
Emotional stress or lack of sleep
Exposure to toxins and heavy metals
Other underlying illness
Excessive use of disinfectants
Kissing people or grooming facial hairs
Mouth feeding a bird
"Hanging Out" in the bathroom
Fish, reptile or amphibian tanks in the same room
People who have a cold or the flu
How to Prevent Bacterial Infections
Feed a balanced diet of pellets and healthy table foods.
Eliminate exposure to rodents.
Use paper products on cage bottom (black and white newspaper, white paper
towels, paper bags or recycled ground paper products).
Change papers on the bottom of the cage daily.
Provide a clean and dust free environment for your bird.
Disinfect as recommended by your avian vet and not for routine
Wash fruits and vegetable before serving, not before refrigerating.
Store refrigerated fruits and vegetables in air-tight containers like Zip
Lock bags or sealed plastic containers.
Remove uneaten perishable food items from your bird's cage after a few
Avoid using water from "under the sink" water filters.
Change water filters regularly as per manufacturer's recommendations.
Avoid using water from under the sink water filters
Boiling water for 10 minutes will kill bacteria.
Water bottles should be changed daily and soaked weekly for 30 minutes in
1 part bleach to 10 parts water solution then rinsed thoroughly.
Spray bottles used for misting baths should be emptied after each use and
allowed to dry between uses.
Avoid using sponges and rags to clean bowls.
Wash food and water dishes daily with soap and water and dry with a paper
put in dishwasher.
Allow 10-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night and some privacy in
Do not allow birds to roam unsupervised or chew on paint and other
Avoid exposure to birds of unknown health status.
Don't let your bird come in contact with dogs, cats or other mammals or
with their bowls, food, water and toys.
Keep fish, reptile and amphibian tanks in another room and wash your hands
Prevent birds from kissing people's mouths or grooming face and nostril hairs.
Close toilet bowl lid at all times, especially when flushing.
Wash you hands after blowing your nose, using the bathroom, handling meats
and prior to handling your bird.
If you have a cold or the flu, avoid handling your bird
All birds should receive a medical exam from an avian vet once a year to
rule out infections and other health problems.
Medical Treatment of Bacterial Infections
Even the best care is not enough to prevent occasional bacterial infections
Birds can carry bacteria for a long time without showing symptoms and then
suddenly get sick. For this reason it's always better to eliminate infections
before your bird shows obvious signs of being sick. Your avian vet may recommend
supplements of normal bacteria if the infection is very mild or as a
preventative for birds with recurrent problems. More often a course of
antibiotics will be prescribed and cage disinfecting may be recommended. An
infected bird should be re-checked after treatment to make sure the problem is
gone. Treatment failure can result from bacterial mutation resistance to
antibiotics, incomplete treatments or from persistent sources of bacteria in the
environment. These sources must be found and eliminated in order for treatment to be
effective in the long run.