Illustrated Articles

Medical Conditions

  • When birds are ill, they will commonly develop a change in their droppings. While not usually specific for any one particular disease, a change in the color, frequency, volume, or character of droppings may indicate a problem that requires immediate veterinary attention.

  • Aspergillosis is a fungal infection that commonly causes respiratory disease in pet birds. It can cause both upper (nose, sinuses, eye, and trachea) and lower (lungs and air sacs – a specialized part of the respiratory tract that birds have) respiratory problems or more broadly distributed systemic infections. Aspergillus is normally an environmental contaminant and is not contagious from bird to bird.

  • The bearded dragon is a well-known lizard currently considered one of the best pet lizards. If they are well looked after, with a good diet and proper environment, bearded dragons are reasonably hardy animals. Common health conditions of pet bearded dragons include metabolic bone disease, infectious stomatitis (mouth rot), parasites, respiratory infections, and adenovirus infection.

  • Bearded dragons have several unique problems; understanding these problems will allow you to better care for your pet and minimize future health care problems. These problems include Salmonella, avascular necrosis, abscesses, and dystocia.

  • Candida albicans is a common environmental fungus that can affect the digestive tracts of birds. It is a common cause of 'sour crop' or a crop infection (ingluvitis), especially in young birds. Candida can be a primary or secondary cause of crop infections. Often, other diseases compromise the bird's immune system and predispose a bird to secondary Candida infection (candidiasis).

  • Generally speaking, chinchillas are fairly hardy animals. However, they do have several unique problems, and understanding these problems will allow you to better care for your pet and minimize future health care problems. These include fur slip, antibiotic sensitivity, teeth problems, heat stroke, skin problems, and dust bathing for normal grooming.

  • Common conditions of pet chinchillas include bite wounds, respiratory diseases, overgrown and impacted teeth, gastrointestinal stasis, bloat, diarrhea, skin problems, and heat stroke. Any deviation of your chinchilla's behavior from normal should be a cause for concern and requires immediate evaluation by your veterinarian.

  • Chlamydophilosis (psittacosis, chlamydiosis, parrot fever, ornithosis) is a common disease of birds caused by a bacterial organism called Chlamydophila psittaci. While this disease can occur in any bird, it is especially common in cockatiels, Amazon parrots, and budgerigars. Birds with chlamydophilosis exhibit a decreased appetite, weight loss, lethargy, diarrhea, nasal or ocular discharge, a fluffed-up appearance, and breathing difficulties. Some birds can carry C. psittaci asymptomatically, spreading it to other birds (and people) through their droppings and respiratory tract secretions. Because tests for diagnosing chlamydophilosis in birds, are not 100% reliable, veterinarians will often rely on a combination of test results to formulate a diagnosis. Treatment is usually with oral or injectable doxycycline antibiotic for 45 days. In humans, this disease often causes flu-like respiratory tract signs such as fever, sweating, headache, fatigue, muscle pain, inappetence, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and a dry cough. Since chlamydophilosis is a zoonotic disease, all new pet birds should be examined by a bird-savvy veterinarian and have some form of testing for this disease.

  • Chronic egg-laying occurs when a female bird lays one egg after another or lays repeated clutches of eggs. Chronic egg-laying may lead to malnutrition from the chronic depletion of calcium from the body for the production of eggshells. In time, calcium depletion may result in egg binding. A lack of hormonal feedback to a bird’s brain, telling the bird to stop laying eggs, likely occurs in chronic egg-laying birds. Removing eggs that are already laid may induce birds to lay even more eggs, depending on the species. Egg-laying uses up a great deal of the bird’s body stores of calcium not only to make eggshells, but also to help contract muscles and stimulate nerve conduction to push eggs down the bird’ reproductive tract. Birds eating all-seed, calcium-deficient diets may not be able to replace depleted calcium stores quickly enough, and they suffer from hypocalcemia. There are both behavioral and medical interventions to stop chronic egg-laying.

  • Pet birds often become ill when they are not cared for or fed appropriately. Birds can develop infections with bacteria such as Chlamydia psittaci and parasites such as Giardia. They also commonly suffer from reproductive problems, such as egg binding and reproductive tumors. Many feather-pick when psychologically stressed or sexually frustrated. Birds on all-seed, high-fat diets may become obese and develop fatty liver syndrome. Older birds may develop cloacal papillomas or cancer. Your veterinarian familiar with birds will formulate an appropriate diagnostic and treatment plan if your pet bird becomes ill.