Birds make excellent companions, but it can be difficult to tell if they are sick. If you have never owned a pet bird before, you may not know what symptoms to watch for. Here are some signs that might indicate the need for a trip to a veterinarian.

Changes in the Bird's Feathers

Changes in your bird's feathers are sometimes indicative of an illness or disease. Look for excessive molting or feather loss. You may notice clumps of feathers in the bottom of the cage or bald spots on the bird. If the bird is constantly picking at its feathers, this may also be a sign that something is wrong. Matting or wetness around the head and neck should never be ignored, and constantly ruffled feathers can be a sign that your bird is uncomfortable. If you notice any of these symptoms but aren't sure whether or not your bird is sick, contact your veterinarian to see if it's time to make an appointment.

Difficulty Breathing

While it may be easy to spot difficulty with breathing in a cat or dog, it can be harder to spot with birds. Your bird may have trouble opening its beak, or you may notice the tail bobbing up and down while the bird is trying to breathe. You may find that your bird makes less noise or that its voice seems to have changed. Lower amounts of physical activity can also be a sign that your bird is having trouble breathing. Any of these indicators should result in a visit to the vet's office.

Loss Of Appetite

You know how much your bird eats and drinks on a daily basis, so looking for signs that your bird has lost its appetite should be fairly easy. If your bird is refusing to eat or drink, or it is having difficulty picking up food, there may be a serious issue. Bloating, diarrhea and difficulty passing waste or laying eggs can also indicate that something is wrong with your bird's diet and digestive system.

What Other Kinds Of Problems Can A Bird Have?

Birds can become sick with a number of different illnesses. Your veterinarian will know how to best treat each one, but you can do a little research on some common diseases to help provide the best care possible for your pet. Some of the diseases that affect birds include:

  • Bird and Feather Disease
  • Macaw Wasting Disease
  • Avian Flu
  • Pacheco's Herpevirus
  • Avian Tuberculosis
  • Parrot Fever

Some diseases that affect birds can also affect humans, so it is important to handle your bird carefully and wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning out the cage. See a vet at a location like West Lake Animal Hospital to learn about which diseases are contagious and threatening to humans.