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Help! Coughing Budgie

bijoux

Checking out the neighborhood
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2/21/21
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Hi all,

Longtime reader, first time poster, so I apologize in advance if this question has been answered elsewhere...and for the VERY LONG post! o_O

My little 18 month old budgie has been displaying some symptoms lately that have me concerned that he may have a respiratory infection / illness.
Basically, he has been making a “pfft” sound several times a day for a few weeks now. At first, I thought it was just a small sneeze or maybe a reaction to debris from preening / eating. However, after watching him more closely I have realized that there isn’t a specific time or event that causes him to do it, but rather it just happens randomly throughout the day. I have also watched a couple YouTube videos that lead me to believe that the noise is in fact a cough, which obviously is concerning.

Outside of this noise, none of his behaviours have changed. He continues to eat and drink normally, with his poop staying consistent in shape, size and colour. He hasn’t had any weight loss or discharge. He plays, chats, preens (himself and us!) and flies around the house like always. The only other “symptom” is that he is constantly itchy, rubbing his head and beak on anything and everything! However, he is also molting again for the second time since December (likely due to the increased heat in the house from the very cold winter days we’ve been experiencing in Toronto) so that may not be related.

For about three weeks now, I have been holding him very close to my ear each day to listen for any squeaking or clicking sounds and hadn’t heard anything. However, a friend at an avian pet store told me that I needed to check his breathing after he had flown around and was worked up, so I tried that yesterday and DID notice a small “squeak” noise when his breathing was very rapid, but it quickly went away as his heart rate dropped.

As I know breathing problems are never a good thing, I have booked a visit with the vet for this week. However, I would really appreciate the following advice:

  1. Has anyone else experienced their budgie coughing for such an extended period of time and it not be related to an illness?
  2. If the constant itching / feather loss is not due to molting but rather because of mites (like air sac mites that would possibly explain the coughing) is it normal that it would have gone on this long without getting noticeably worse?
  3. Should I ask the vet for mites medication (ivermectin) just in case?
  4. If it isn’t mites, but rather a respiratory infection / illness should the vet be able to diagnose that without him having to undergo a host of tests?
  5. What medications are usually the most appropriate for respiratory infections (so I can cross-reference with anything the vet may recommend)?
  6. Are respiratory infections usually curable or is it a very bad (likely fatal) situation? :(
My apologies for asking so many questions, but I tend to be a bit of a worry wart and am trying to determine if something is actually wrong or if I’m just being a crazy, overprotective bird mother! LOL

Below is a video of him making the sound. It’s not great but if you watch it a couple times you’ll get the gist.

TIA for any help you can provide! I know this is a great forum filled with lots of supportive bird parents.

 
Last edited:

Sparkles99

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Welcome, bijoux! Your little budgie boy is gorgeous. :)

I'm sorry I have no direct experience with sick budgies, but if you think he's sick, the vet is the best place for him. There are some people on here with respiratory problem experience. From what I've gathered, birds have rather sensitive respiratory systems.

I'm sure someone else will chime in soon.
 

Miss_sj

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Hi, it’s good that you have a vet check coming up. There are far more experienced budgie people than me who will hopefully answer- personally I think it sounds like he is just doing little sneezes. I wouldn’t try to alarm yourself too much, especially as it sounds like he is otherwise healthy. The head rubbing is just from moulting I think, but you can double check this with the vet. Try not to stress!
 

bijoux

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2/21/21
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Thanks @Sparkles99 and @Miss_sj for your quick responses! Fingers-crossed it’s nothing too serious.
Hopefully, someone who has more experience with respiratory problems will chime in soon before the vet appointment. :)
 

Hankmacaw

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Any un natural noise associated with the respiratory system is something to always have concern about. Taking him to the vet is the very best thing you can do. The vet can take anal and throat swabs to see if there is bacteria present. Vets are often reluctant to take blood samples due to the tiny size of budgies. As far as medication goes there are a plethora of antibiotics and fungicides that are appropriate for lung infections. Your vet will prescribe which ever he feels is best and which ever he prefers.

Any infection can be fatal if left unattended for too long. The lungs and don't forget the air sacs are particularly delicate and infections can become serious quickly.
 
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