Part 2 – Common Pet Bird Diseases and How Prevent and Treat Them

Here is the second part of the most common pet bird diseases and what you can do to prevent or treat them.

pet bird diseases sick

Photo: Mariposa Veterinary Wellness Center in Lenexa, KS| Flickr


  • Respiratory Diseases

Almost all pet bird can be prone to respiratory diseases because of their very small lungs and how their respiratory system works. These pet bird diseases are caused by many factors such as Vitamin A deficiency, viruses and fungi, parasites, secondary diseases caused by poor immune system, and exposure to pollution and environmental toxins.


This one is a type of fungal infection. In this condition, the bird’s air sac is lodged with fungal spores. These fungi can also lodge the other respiratory organs like the bronchi, trachea, and syrinx. This causes inflammation on the lodged area that will make the bird suffer with breathing difficulty. When not treated early on, it could get worse and fatal to the infected bird.

Acute condition could be very severe and short in which the lungs will become congested with mucus, while the chronic condition is common to older birds in which their lungs will be severely damaged by the infection and spread through other organs. This could also attack their nervous system.

Symptoms for Acute condition:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Breathing difficulty

Symptoms for Chronic condition:

  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Breathing problems
  • Tremors
  • Loss of coordination

Prevention and Treatment: When early signs appeared, bring your pet to an avian veterinarian so he could prescribe an anti-fungal medication immediately thus, preventing the fungi to spread out. Prevention includes your bird’s proper hygiene, good nutrition from the food they eat, and proper air ventilation on the area where they are kept.

There are other forms of respiratory disease in birds that causes sudden death. An example is the toxins that they inhale from overheated Teflon wares. The smoke emitted by this object is said to be highly toxic to birds. It is important that you keep them away from areas in your home where you use this kitchenware, or better stick to stainless steel kitchenware when cooking.

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  • Pacheco’s Disease

This is one of the very common pet bird diseases to the parrot species. This condition is very contagious and lethal and a bird that is infected with this disease can die due to severe liver damage and inflamed spleen and kidneys caused by the herpesvirus. Bird species that are commonly target by this disease are the macaws, monk parakeets, conures, and the Amazon parrot species.

A bird can become infected through direct contact with an infected bird’s feces and nasal discharge. This can also be airborne because the virus can be present in the dust or aerosol when they are not in the system of a bird hosting the virus.


  • Sinusitis
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Abnormal feathers
  • Discoloration in the feces
  • Tremors

Prevention and Treatment: The best prevention for the Pacheco’s disease is to do quarantine for each and every kinds of bird that will enter the aviary.  The area where a recently infected bird was kept must be disinfected using oxidizers like chlorine bleach to kill the virus effectively.  Replace air filters where the birds frequently stay and clean all source of ventilation.

Isolate the bird which is suspected to carry the disease and have it tested as soon as possible through PCR and sequence testing of PDV DNA. Vaccinated birds are not guaranteed to be protected against the other strains of the Pacheco’s virus that is why prevention is still the key not to infect other birds.

Medicating using Acyclovir is said to be effective in curing some strains if this disease, however, too much of this medicine can cause liver damage to the bird.

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  • Avian Cancers and Tumors

Like humans, birds and other animals can also acquire cancers and tumors in which the cause is still yet to be discovered. The bird can suffer abnormal growth of cells in an organ or in the tissues.  Similarly to humans, birds also have two categories of cancer—the benign and the malignant. A benign tumor doesn’t spread out and can be cured while the malignant is the fatal one that can spread out to the other parts of the body and can cause organ failures.

Internal cancer is the most common in birds. It is very difficult to diagnose a bird with this type of cancer and sometimes the condition is already worse when symptoms appeared. Skin cancer is also common in birds and the cause is said to be from too much exposure to the UV rays of the sun.

Prevention and Treatment: When a bird is diagnosed with any cancerous pet bird diseases through radiograph, MRI, or CT scan, the animal specialist will highly recommend surgical procedure especially if the cancer hasn’t spread out to other major organs. This can give high chances for survival. However, when the cancer already spreads out, survival is very rare or none at all. Surgical procedure may not be an option anymore, thus prolonging the bird’s life through radiation therapy could be the best option, but the bird will become weak and will eventually die. Older birds are more prone to avian cancers.


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