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Do Birds Cause Allergies?

Learn which pet birds are not recommended for people with allergies in this Howcast video featuring veterinarian Laurie Hess.


Doctor Hess: A lot of people will choose a bird as a pet because they're allergic to cats and dogs and to the dander, which comes from the saliva, of these mammals when they clean their coats. Many people who are allergic to cats and dogs are not necessarily to allergic to birds, not necessarily allergic to feathers. Birds can be a great alternative to somebody who really can't have a dog or a cat or a rabbit or another fuzzy, furry creature.

There are some birds, however, that do have a little bit more allergenic potential. Some birds actually produce powder down, which is a powdery substance on their skin and feathers that is released into the environment and is a little more dusty. You want to talk about those birds, Sarah?

Sarah: Absolutely. Cockatoos are classic for this. Those big, white, beautiful fluffy birds will often leave big, white, beautiful, fluffy dander all over every surface in whatever room that they live in. In fact, we often recommend that people maybe have air filters in their house or even in the room with the bird because even for the bird to breathe in all that dust, it's not good for them. A lot of people can be irritated by that much dust. We do recommend that if you're going to have a bird and you are allergic to a lot of dust, a lot dander, that maybe a bird like a cockatoo or other very dusty birds aren't such a great idea.

Doctor Hess: Cockatiels can be dusty too.

Sarah: They're great birds.

Doctor Hess: Regardless, you really want bathe the bird as often as you can. People are afraid to do that sometimes in the winter, but we tell them they get wet all year round when they're outside. It keeps down the dust and the dander. It keeps your cage cleaner. It keeps your house cleaner. Bathing them, avoiding those really high powdery species if you are allergic, and just checking with your own doctor to see if you are an allergic person. You might want to check that out before you go out and get a bird as a pet.

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