Sneezing and Nasal Discharge in Birds

Sneezing and Nasal Discharge in Birds - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Most common symptoms

Breathing Difficulty / Coughing / Loud Breathing / Nasal Discharge / Noisy Breathing / Sneezing

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Rated as moderate conditon

11 Veterinary Answers

Most common symptoms

Breathing Difficulty / Coughing / Loud Breathing / Nasal Discharge / Noisy Breathing / Sneezing

Sneezing and Nasal Discharge in Birds - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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What is Sneezing and Nasal Discharge?

Under normal circumstances, your bird may sneeze once or twice a day to clear its airways of dust and other debris.  However, when the sneezing becomes more frequent and persistent and the nasal discharge, which is normally thin and clear, takes on thickness and color and is accompanied by other abnormal respiratory symptoms, these may be signals that your bird is sick.

Sneezing is defined in birds, as it is in humans, as the body’s way of clearing dust and other debris from the airways while nasal discharge is defined as a fluid, usually thin and clear unless disease is present, which accompanies the occasional sneeze.

Symptoms of Sneezing and Nasal Discharge in Birds

Sneezing and nasal discharge in bird can be quite normal under certain circumstances but increases or frequency of these symptoms may also signal an infection or other respiratory disease.  Here are some symptoms you might notice if respiratory disease or infection are present:

  • Sneezing - Usually a signal to something deeper if it is continual and persistent

  • Nasal discharge - Usually normal if it is thin and clear but not if it is thicker or has a color to it
  • Fluffing of feathers
  • Apathy
  • Bird makes sounds similar to coughing (but birds can’t cough since they don’t have a diaphragm)
  • Voice changes
  • Watery eyes
  • Difficulty breathing - Can be demonstrated by a “bob” tail with each breath taken (shows increasing breathing difficulty)

  • Wheezing
  • Failure to perch
  • Keeps eye closed

Types

 

There are four types of respiratory diseases which can have sneezing and nasal discharge as symptoms commonly found in birds.  These diseases affect the trachea, lungs and air sacs:

  • Viral - Includes avian influenza, pox, new castle disease and two that affect chickens: infectious bronchitis and laryngotracheitis   

  • Bacterial - Pasteurella, E coli, bordetella (affects turkeys) and infectious coryza (affects chickens)
  • Fungal - Aspergillosis or candida 

  • Other - Mycoplasmas and nutritional
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Causes of Sneezing and Nasal Discharge in Birds

The causes of the sneezing and nasal discharge that accompanies respiratory disease would be based on the type of respiratory disease which has infected your bird.  

  • Viruses - There are hundreds of them known or thought to cause avian respiratory disease, and because they are so contagious, they can spread through your flock or aviary very quickly; some can cause serious respiratory issues as well as other neurological and systemic issues

  • Bacterial - Again hundreds if not thousands exist which are known to cause infectious respiratory diseases in avians; some can be passed by direct contact (horizontal) while others are passed from hen or mother to egg (vertical) (can be quite devastating to aviary population)
  • Fungal - There are primarily two which are found in birds: aspergillosis (passed from hatchery to litter) and candida (individual to each bird - not communicable)

  • Parasitic - Primarily blackhead, coccidia and worms; primary mode of transmission is via oral / fecal route
  • Nutrition based - Specifically cage layer fatigue (mostly found in chickens) and rickets

Any of these causes can cause a variety of symptoms and clinical signs which can be utilized in obtaining the diagnosis by your veterinary professional.

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Diagnosis of Sneezing and Nasal Discharge in Birds

The diagnostic process will include a complete and detailed history from you which will likely encompass feeding regimen, types of feed given, enclosure hygiene, enclosure description, exercise and behavior exhibited by your birds especially as they apply to feces and appetite.  Your veterinary professional will do a physical examination and note the clinical signs being presented by your bird, observing both from a distance as well as up close.  He will be assessing changes, some of which may be subtle, in posture, wing position, respiration patterns and respiratory rate as some clinical information can potentially be gained from abnormalities found.  There is quite a list of clinical signs which the vet will be looking for to obtain for information for his diagnosis  

Your vet will likely order some diagnostic testing to be done.  You should expect him to take samples of blood for a comprehensive blood count, blood serology testing for chlamydiosis and aspergillosis and other infectious causes and samples of the choanal (slit in the roof of the mouth) or nasal cavity to check for bacteria or cancer. Radiography (x-rays) and / or CT imaging may be utilized; in addition endoscopic direct viewing of the respiratory system may be suggested as well.

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Treatment of Sneezing and Nasal Discharge in Birds

Once the above information has been gathered, an appropriate treatment plan will be developed and initiated.  That treatment plan will be, of course, commensurate with the offending entity and the condition of your bird at the time of diagnosis.  Here are some things which could be recommended by your vet:

  • Keep in mind that, if the bird is displaying lethargy, breathing difficulties or loss of appetite, it will likely need to be hospitalized and perhaps some long-term care
  • Cleaning of any dry secretions and removal of any foreign objects from airways (potentially requiring anesthesia)
  • Administration of antibiotics or antifungal medications orally or via injection or application directly into nostrils or sinuses
  • Flushing of the nostrils or sinuses with antibiotics and antifungal medications
  • Surgical removal of any tumors which may be present

Once your bird is released from the hospital, you will likely have a care regimen that you will have to maintain while the bird continues to recuperate.

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Recovery of Sneezing and Nasal Discharge in Birds

It is important to note that some birds may not survive regardless of treatment. The prognosis will be dependent upon the cause of the infection and the damage which has been caused by it.  At home, attention will need to be focused on keeping up with the regimen given by your vet, making changes to the bird’s enclosure environment to eliminate some of the factors which may have contributed to the bird’s condition, and adjusting the bird’s diet to achieve maximum nutritional benefit.  

Humidifying and purifying the air in the aviary may also benefit the health of your flock.  Getting appropriate medical care at the earliest possible point when changes in condition and behavior is noted is vital to the survival of your bird.  Attention to prevention measures to protect the rest of the flock will go a long way toward the success of the aviary.

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Sneezing and Nasal Discharge Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Petee

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Bird

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2 Years

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing Hunched Up Eye Is Shut

My English parkette is sneezing and all fluffed and just not looking good what kind of antibiotic can I give it I have penicillin that's injectable its 3000 rm can u tell me how much I can give him and how many times

July 23, 2018

Petee's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Without examining Petee I cannot legally advise you to give any antibiotic without visiting your Veterinarian; plus I don’t know if they penicillin you have is in date or has been stored correctly. It is possible that Petee has an upper respiratory tract infection, but I cannot be certain without examining him; you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination to confirm and to prescribe treatment. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 23, 2018

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taquito

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Budgie

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7 Months

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing Tail Bobbing

I took my budgie to the vet for tail bobbing and he was given baytril for 7 days. the last day was yesterday and i have still seen him tail bobbing and he has been sneezing more now. He is not fluffed up, he has been eating and drinking normally, he talks and has been flying around the room.

July 4, 2018

taquito's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Tail bobbing and sneezing certainly point towards a respiratory tract infection (or environmental irritants), if there has been no improvement you show return to your Veterinarian (preferably an Avian Veterinarian) for another examination to determine whether a different course of treatment or testing (culture and sensitivity) is needed. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 5, 2018

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Patience

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Starling

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One Month

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing

I have a starling her name is Patience and she’s I think she like a month old, I’ve had her for two weeks and she had all her feathers when I found her I think she was just out of the nest. She sneezes all of the time, like 4 or 5 in a row right fast like every hour but I don’t see any discharge around her nostrils I felt something wet on my hand when she sneezed on me though she has lots of energy and is always running around my arms and flying around but she can’t fly great I take her outside all of the time she doesn’t fly away and if she does it’s short distances and always comes back. She seems like a healthy energetic little bird but she sneezes all of the time

June 12, 2018

Patience's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Patience may have something in her nasal passages, or an infection, or a parasite. If she seems to be doing well otherwise, it may be something that you can monitor. If you are concerned, it would be best to have her seen by an avian veterinarian to get any treatment that she may need.

June 12, 2018

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Tweedy

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Budgie

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11 Months

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

None

My budgie sneezed about 6 times in a row about 5 times today but he's happy and still displaying and head bobbing for his mate, nothing's changed no puffed up feathers or discharge just the sneeze

May 25, 2018

Tweedy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Tweedy may have sneezed for a few times for various reasons which may include an infection; but other causes including irritants, allergens, dust etc… may also cause some sneezing to occur. If there are no other symptoms for now, I would keep an eye on him for the meantime but if you do notice any discharge or any other symptoms you should visit an Avian Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 26, 2018

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Pikki

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cockatiel

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6 Months

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Nasal Discharge

My bird is sneezing and there is discharge from her right nostril. also the right nostril is swollen red. She is behaving okay though. There are no avian vet in my city. Please help

May 16, 2018

Pikki's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Without seeing Pikki, I'm afraid that I cannot determine what might be going on with her, whether she has a bacterial or fungal infection, a blockage, or another problem. If there is a veterinarian in another city that can see her, it would be a good idea to take her there and have her examined before her problem becomes worse. I hope that she is okay.

May 16, 2018

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Debby

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Budgie

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3 Months

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Nose Bubble

Hello, I spotted my budgie blow a clear bubble out of her nose, no nasal discharge or mucus, should I take her to a vet? It only happened once and she seems fine, she's eating and drinking and playing like normal. I have her separated from my other keets just incase her condtion worsens while I'm not home.

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Pancho

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Quaker Parrot

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3 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Watery Eye
Occasional Sneezing

Someone please help! I am a broke college student with a quaker board I rescued. I have noticed he sometimes gets a watery eye and scratches it. His appetite seems fine and he sneezes at times but seems normal. I'm not sure if I should take him to the vet. Not many aviary vets around here so they are expensive. Please help.

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Baby

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cockatiel

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19 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Yellow Mucus, Weakness, Sneezing

My bird keeps sneezing continuously and does not stop for like 2 full minutes. There is yellow mucus spraying out of her nose and you can even see some on the bars in her cage. She leans over when she's done sneezing like she can barely stand straight.

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Rico

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Yellow Napped Amazon

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3 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Difficulty Breathing, Runny Nose,

We have a 35 yo Yellow Napped Amazon Rico, 2 years ago he started have trouble breathing and a runny nose. We are and have been taking him to an avian Vet. It is still going on we have done flushing of the nostrils or sinuses with antibiotics and antifungal medications Surgical removal of any material which may be present. He was good to start for about 6 months but as the time went on with this treatment the time got shorter and shorter. They did a culture and now we have to give him another AntiBiotic by injection because the culture showed the condition is resistant to the Baytril. He has been Baytril for 2 years. It has cost several thousands of dollars and he is not getting any better. We are at wits end as to what to do. Do you know if there is any homeopathic things that can be done instead of the routine he is on now?

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Lilly

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Polytelis alexandrae

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12 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Wheezing
Breathing Difficulties

I’ve had my princess parrot for 12 years and last May when I came home from holidays I noticed that one of her nostrils was swollen. I had taken her to my vet who specializes in birds they cleaned the nostril out and gave her antibiotics. Everything was ok for 4 months and I noticed her sneezing and the nostril was getting a wet discharge from it. So for close to a year now Ive been taking her to the vets. With her having been sneezing and breathing problems. She’s had 2 rounds of antibiotics treatments that are a 6 week course. The first one was last year (one needle a week) think the vet said it was vitamin A and something else. She gotten better and then worse months later. She’s just finished her second course a month or so ago and she was good until 2 weeks ago and she was taken back for breathing difficulties. The vet examined her and listened to her chest and her chest was clear. He did give her one booster needle, however she got so stressed I thought she was going to drop dead, he taken her 30 minutes to recover from that. He also thinks she’s got a blood clotting disorder because she bleeds when she gets her needles now. It all started last May.

Cannanine