Important Bird Health Facts

Birds are more susceptible to diseases and hazards than most other pets. This is due in part to their insatiable curiosity, but also to their relatively small size, accelerated metabolisms and delicate respiratory systems. Responsible bird owners know to be constantly aware of their pet's health, as a minor problem can very quickly escalate into a serious threat.

Bird Health Basics

Try to find a specialized avian veterinarian for your pet bird early in its life, or even before you bring your bird home from the store. A board-certified avian vet is the best choice for bird health care, both for regular checkups and in case of illness or injury. If a health emergency arises, you don't want to waste valuable time trying to find a veterinarian. Depending on your bird's age, breed and overall health, the veterinarian will recommend a schedule of regular checkup visits.

A balanced, nutrient-rich diet is critical to ensuring good pet bird health. The primary cause of illness and premature death in pet birds is improper feeding and low-quality bird food. Your bird's veterinarian can advise you on diet specifics, but on the whole, a healthy diet for most birds will include a variety of food sources:

  • Seed: This should comprise the majority of your bird's diet.
  • Greens: Well-washed table greens or backyard greens are best.
  • Fruits and vegetables: These are important, but they must be washed well and they should not exceed 25 percent of your pet's diet.
  • Protein: Eggs, cottage cheese and peanut butter are good sources, and these are especially important for carnivorous bird breeds.
  • Vitamins: Add bird vitamins to your pet's drinking water.
  • Minerals: Cuttlebones, egg shells and mineral blocks are good sources of these vital nutrients.

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Birds are social creatures; in the wild, birds bond in flocks. In your home, a bird requires regular social contact or it will not be happy. Birds enjoy socializing with other birds and pets as well as people. Regular bathing is required for optimal cleanliness; some birds even enjoy being misted or accompanying you while you shower.

Symptoms of Common Bird Illnesses and Conditions

The health of pet birds can deteriorate rapidly if they get sick, so be on the alert for changes in your pet's behavior and physical appearance. Contact your veterinarian if you notice abnormal behavior, lethargy, decreased appetite, discharges from the eyes or nasal area, bare feather spots, difficulty breathing or enlargements on any part of the body.

Bird Health Products to Help Your Pet Thrive

Pet stores and specialty online retailers are excellent sources of bird health supplies. Along with the basics like seeds, vitamins and minerals, these suppliers also offer bird toys, perches, bird cages and products for claw care.