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How to Know If Your Pet Bird Is Sick

Learn how to know if your pet bird is sick from veterinarian Laurie Hess in this Howcast video.


Dr. Laurie: So people ask us a lot, "How do you know your bird is sick?" Obviously, it's easier when your dog is not going to his food bowl or your cat is lying around, it's a little more obvious. Most people don't handle their birds as they do their cats and dogs, so it may not be quite as clear to them that their birds are sick. So there are certain tell-tale signs. Birds that are sick often will not eat. They get fluffed up. They try to trap air between their feathers and their body to stay warm. Often birds will tuck their heads under their wing. They look very lethargic and quiet. There are some other things that we'll see. What are some other signs, Sarah?

Sarah: A lot of the signs are things that people would probably describe as minor changes that they might initially not think are actually a big deal. Some birds will stop vocalizing as much. They'll even stop saying a certain word. That may be the start of it. You know, some will call and say my bird has stopped saying this phrase. He says it every morning to me and now he's stopped. And even minor things like that can be the first sign that there might be something making your bird uncomfortable. They do hide any signs of illness for as long as possible and that's why we really need to go on these tiny little cues from owners. Owners are probably our biggest tool in knowing when a bird is even feeling slightly off.

Dr. Laurie: Absolutely, the questions that we ask about your bird before we even handle the bird are so important. Looking at the cage. Looking at the number of droppings in there to let you know whether the bird is eating. Looking at the way the bird is perched. Is it upright and sleek or is it huddled and crouched with its eyes closed? Is it having problems breathing? Sometimes you can see birds with real difficulty breathing will bob their tail up and down. Just really looking at the bird very, very carefully before even picking it up you can tell a whole lot about how the bird is feeling. And we can't stress to you enough that if a bird is showing signs that bird has probably been sick for a while and you don't want to wait. Birds should be treated right away. It can make the difference between life and death.

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