Common Diseases That Affect Caged Birds

Common Diseases That Affect Caged Birds

Birds make wonderful pets and they do add a lot of colour and chatter to an environment. If you're thinking about keeping some caged birds, you'll find that not only are they lovely to watch but really nice to listen to as well with their cheerful chirps and bird song. However, keeping birds means ensuring their environments are kept clean and your feathered friends have access to plenty of fresh, clean water. You also need to make sure you feed them the correct type of diet to suit their species making sure it contains all the vitamins and minerals they need to stay happy and healthy.

Caged birds need to live in an environment that imitates their natural habitat as much as possible so there has to be lots of perches, a few safe plants, nesting boxes and lots of room to fly around in. You also need to recognise when things may not be all that right with any birds because just as with other pets, the earlier you recognise a bird might be sick, the more chance they have of making a full recovery and surviving. The other benefit being that if you pick up on a problem early enough when one bird is sick, you may have effectively stopped the disease or illness from spreading to any birds.

Keeping a Close Eye on Your Bird's Behaviour

As you get to know your birds you will soon understand their little routines and how they typically behave when they are hungry, happy or scared of something. It is important to recognise their quirks and the way they behave because most birds don't show many symptoms of being ill until they are extremely sick. Caged birds are susceptible to a lot of the same diseases that wild birds often suffer from with the more common illnesses including the following:

  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Mineral deficiencies
  • Bacterial infections
  • Yeast infections
  • Infestation of lice and mites
  • Viruses
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Certain forms of cancer

If caught early enough and if given the right treatment, the majority of these illnesses can be treated very effectively with birds making a good recovery. The key is to catch an illness early enough and then treating the birds with the right veterinary medication.

Making Note of Subtle Changes is Essential

It's really important to take note of any subtle changes in your birds and if they show a lack of energy or they are quieter than usual – there may be something wrong and this could be the first indication of them being under the weather. There are 5 main health issues that caged birds commonly suffer from which are as follows:

Nutritional Deficiencies

One of the biggest challenges is making sure you are feeding the right type of diet to your birds so they get all the things they need to stay healthy which in turn means they will be able to fight off any diseases that much better. Feeding an incorrect diet may have dire consequences which you need to avoid at all costs. If caged birds are not getting enough Vitamin A, they are prone to suffer from respiratory diseases and if there is too little calcium in their diets, this may well cause them to suffer seizures. A well balanced diet that provides all the right vitamins and minerals equals much healthier birds.

Yeast Infections

If you notice your birds have any white spots in their mouths or on their beaks, it could be a symptom of a condition known as candidiasis, which is a yeast infection that young birds commonly suffer from. The condition can be effectively treated with an anti-fungal medication which your vet would be able to prescribe for your birds.


Giardia is protozoal disease that commonly affects caged birds with the most obvious symptoms being diarrhoea and itchy, dry skin. Very often when a bird is suffering from the condition, they will pluck out their feathers in order to get some relief from the itchiness. Although giardia can be effectively treated, there is no cure for the condition which means careful husbandry and continual treatment for affected birds is a must.

Bacterial Infections

Very often caged birds become contaminated with bacterial pathogens and the symptoms to look out for are the following:

  • Runny nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Wheezing
  • Watery diarrhoea

Bacterial infections are very easily transmitted from bird to bird which means it's essential to catch a condition early and treat it with antibiotics that have been prescribed by a vet.

Viral Infections

Unfortunately, the list of viral infections that can affect birds is a very long one but the most common group and common symptoms include the following:

  • Pacheco’s disease is a condition that sees birds suffer regurgitation, diarrhoea, tremors, loss of balance and coordination, seizures, death within 48 hours of symptoms first being apparent
  • Psittacine beak and feather disease is a condition where birds lose their feathers, their beaks become deformed, diarrhoea, lethargy, loss of appetite and birds typically die within two to four weeks of symptoms being apparent
  • Polyoma sees birds lose weight, they have swollen abdomens, appetite loss, depression and sudden death

When it comes to keeping birds, all viral infections are thought of as the most serious conditions our feathered friends can suffer from due to the fact there are no effective treatments available. The problem is the majority of birds don't show any symptoms of being ill but then just drop dead leaving their owners feeling pretty baffled. In order to determine if it was indeed a viral infection that caused the bird's death, the vet would need to carry out an autopsy.



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