The family pet bird can require a visit to the vets just like dogs and cats. While we occasionally refer clients to see a bird specialist in general your local vet can diagnose and where possible treat the common bird health problems. One very treatable disease we see in budgies is a mite infestation causing a crusty dermatitis of the beak, face and feet, known as “scaly face mite”. More serious is that budgies are also known to develop various types of cancer. A cancer affecting the kidneys can cause lameness that owners can mistake for a sore leg. If budgies are incorrectly fed an all-seed diet they may develop Fatty Liver Disease, a problem that can be fatal. Cockatiels are also prone to this problem and both species should receive at least 50% of their diet as vegetables.
This is Emmet the Cockatiel who is owned by our veterinary nurse Andrea and her family. While reproductive problems are unusual in pet birds, egg binding is sometimes seen in budgies and canaries. Canaries have several other genetic diseases including feather cysts, which require surgical removal. Air sac mites infecting the trachea and air sacs can cause respiratory symptoms in canaries too. Cockatoos, like other large birds, often develop a behaviour problem of psychological feather picking that is difficult to treat; however feather loss could also be due to the virus Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease and should be thoroughly investigated by your veterinarian. Cockatoos can live for over 80 years and are a big commitment for any pet owner!