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Sneezing and Nasal Discharge in Birds

Holiday

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Max has been sneezing pretty regularly for the past few days, and I'm on the lookout for anything that would warrant a trip to the vet. In the meantime, I reviewed my vet's article on the subject, and, as I was doing so, I thought it might be a good idea to share it here.


Sneezing and Nasal Discharge in Birds

By: Dr. Barbara Oglesbee

We all sneeze. It is a reflexive response to irritation in the nasal cavity and it's commonly accompanied by a runny nose. Like people, most normal birds will sneeze occasionally in an attempt to clear dust and debris from their nostrils. But should you ever be concerned when your bird sneezes?

If your bird occasionally sneezes a clear fluid (less than once or twice a day) and has no other symptoms, he is probably just exercising the normal mechanism to clear his nostrils. There are many causes of sneezing and nasal discharge in birds. A few of the most common include:

· Irritation from dust or dander
· Bacterial infections
· Fungal infections
· Nutritional deficiencies
· Foreign bodies in the nose

If, however, a discharge continues, or if it looks like anything other than a clear, thin fluid, or the sneezing is persistent, or other symptoms are present, then you need to consult your
veterinarian.

What To Watch For

· Lethargy – Symptoms such as excessive sleepiness, ruffled feathers, and tucking the head under the wing, warrant an immediate visit to your veterinarian.
· Loss of appetite – If there is a decrease in the amount of food the bird is eating, or if it stops eating entirely, see your veterinarian.
· Difficulty breathing – If your bird leans forward and stretches its neck to breath, breathes with an open mouth, or puffs out the cheeks or bobs the tail with each breath, your bird is having trouble breathing and needs to see a veterinarian immediately.

What Your Vet Might Do

Depending on the severity of the discharge, the sneezing episodes, or how long the problem has been going on, your veterinarian will recommend specific diagnostic tests. But first he or she will want a thorough history of the problem. Be prepared to answer these questions:

· When did the problem begin? Did sneezing and nasal discharge occur together?
· Has the appearance of the discharge changed? Has it changed in color or consistency?
· Is the discharge unilateral (one nostril) or bilateral (both nostrils)? Did it begin this way?
· Is your bird rubbing or shaking its head, or yawning excessively?
· Did the discharge begin when the household heat was turned on? Is the bird kept in a dusty room or with birds that produce a lot of feather dust (cockatiels, cockatoos, African grey parrots)?
· Is the bird on a complete, balanced diet, such as a commercial pelleted diet?

Since there are many causes of sneezing and nasal discharge, the cause must be identified for proper treatment. One or more of the following diagnostic tests may be recommended:

· Sampling of the choanal (slit in the roof of the mouth) or the nasal cavity for bacteria or cancer
· A complete blood count for evidence of infection, allergies, or inflammation
· Blood serology tests for Chlamydiosis and Aspergillosis and other infectious diseases
· X-rays or CT scans for evidence of sinus infection or destruction of bone
· Endoscopy for direct viewing the choana, ears, or air sacs to allow your veterinarian to assess the severity of the disease, collect more accurate samples, or remove foreign objects

Treatment

If your bird exhibits severe symptoms, especially difficulty breathing, lethargy and loss of appetite, he will require hospitalization and extensive, long-term treatment. On the other hand, birds with mild nasal discharge and no other symptoms can be treated on an outpatient basis. Some of the following treatments may reduce the severity of the symptoms and provide relief for your
pet:
· Cleaning dry secretions or removing foreign objects from the nasal cavities or sinuses by flushing with saline solution or with forceps. This process might require anesthesia.
· Antibiotics or antifungal therapy by mouth or injection and by application directly into the nostrils or sinuses. This treatment must often be continued for weeks or even months.
· Flushing the nostrils or sinuses with an antibiotic or antifungal solution may help birds with chronic or recurrent infections.
· Surgical removal of tumors. Small benign tumors can usually be removed resulting in a cure. However, most tumors that occur in the nasal cavities of birds are malignant and invasive.

Once you take the bird
home, follow all directions given by your veterinarian. Be sure to give all medication as directed, for as long as directed, even after the symptoms are gone. You should also report any changes in the character of the discharge. If the discharge worsens or if improvement is not seen, report this immediately.

At Home Care

If your bird's discharge is a clear, thin fluid and he exhibits no other symptoms, there are a few things you can do to help:

· Your bird's environment can play a large role. Because the nostrils are located on top of its head, dust and debris can build up in the nostrils. Providing water for bathing can often prevent this. Sensitive birds should not be housed in the same airspace as birds that create a lot of feather dust (cockatoos, cockatiels, or African grey parrots). A high quality air filter, such as a HEPA filter, may also help.
· Tropical birds that are adapted to humid environments, such as Amazon parrots and macaws, often sneeze when the household heat is turned on. Humidifying your bird's area can alleviate this.
· Most birds are extremely sensitive to cigarette and cigar smoke. Avoid exposure to these irritants.
· Birds that eat a poor diet, especially an all-seed diet, are especially prone to respiratory disease. Dietary deficiencies, especially vitamin A, cause changes in the cells that line the nasal cavity, making it easier for infectious agents to invade more readily and cause infection.
 

GG.

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good info Holiday - thank you - I made it a sticky for quick reference


I hope Max is ok :hug8:
 

itzmered

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Very good info! Hopefully nothing is going on with Max
 

Holiday

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Thanks for the good thoughts, GG and Chris :hug8:. His nares don't look all that red, maybe just a tiny bit pink, but he's been sneezing a fair amount, and I did see a tiny drop of clear fluid on his beak once. Something is irritating him, and my instincts are telling me that it is the p'lets, who have been molting like crazy. I think Max is allergic to them.:( P'lets are surprisingly dusty little birds, by far the dustiest relative to their body size that I have, and he's hypersensitive to dust and dry air. I'm considering options. I could move the p'lets to the guest bedroom, which is currently the cats' rumpus room, but that's going to create household issues in other ways... Max has an Austin in his room, between his cage and the p'let cage, but I just don't think it's enough... I'm kind of at a loss, actually...:confused:
 

GG.

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what is the humidity situation in his room?

the a/c and even the air flow from the austin can dry the air enough to make it irritating - don't remember if you have a humidifier going in there or not? :)
 

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Thanks Holiday.:) A few weeks ago Mabel sneezed a few times.. (maybe 4 times ) and I felt a wet spray on my face when she did so. I remember feeling a bit concerned because she also had a little bit of red around her eyes too.

I proceeded to order a new Austin Air prefilter. I also vacuumed the machine and vacuum/dusted the bird room more diligently than usual. I also made sure to provide lots of vegetables rich in vitamin A.

I am pretty certain that this helped alot.:) Hope Max is feeling better.:heart:

Did you have a chance to read my most recent comment about the Austin air Machines? http://forums.avianavenue.com/marketplace/60151-air-filters.html

 
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Greycloud

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Excellent info Holiday!! I hope Max soon feels better!:hug8:
 

magni

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Thank you for the info, I hope Max is OK. I will say a pray for him:hug8:
 

Bokkapooh

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Could it be the carpet or wall? Has sonny chewed on a piece of wood and its causing an aroma? Just throwing ideas out :)
 

Holiday

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what is the humidity situation in his room?

the a/c and even the air flow from the austin can dry the air enough to make it irritating - don't remember if you have a humidifier going in there or not? :)
I haven't run the humidifier since last winter because the humidity was okay, but it has been a little dry here lately. I may have to break it out again.

Thanks Holiday.:) A few weeks ago Mabel sneezed a few times.. (maybe 4 times ) and I felt a wet spray on my face when she did so. I remember feeling a bit concerned because she also had a little bit of red around her eyes too.

I proceeded to order a new Austin Air prefilter. I also vacuumed the machine and vacuum/dusted the bird room more diligently than usual. I also made sure to provide lots of vegetables rich in vitamin A.

I am pretty certain that this helped alot.:) Hope Max is feeling better.:heart:

Did you have a chance to read my most recent comment about the Austin air Machines? http://forums.avianavenue.com/marketplace/60151-air-filters.html

I probably need a new pre-filter too. I'll shop around for one today... Thanks, Saemma. :)

Excellent info Holiday!! I hope Max soon feels better!:hug8:
Thanks! :)

Could it be the carpet or wall? Has sonny chewed on a piece of wood and its causing an aroma? Just throwing ideas out :)
The carpet's the same as ever, and I vacuum daily. Sonny did chew up the shelves, but they're just pine boards, so I doubt it. The only environmental factor besides lower humidity is the increase in p'let dust and feathers from the molt.

Thanks for the thoughts, everyone. I suppose it could be a combination of factors.

The two things I can definitely do are: get a new prefilter and run the humidifier. I can also steam him in the bathroom some more.
 
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65sunnyday

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I don't have any suggestions, other than to check out "How Dust is Made" on youtube--it's a beautiful, short video that's an eye-opener!
 

Holiday

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Just wanted to update and say that I decided to go ahead and order a whole new filter and prefilter for the Austin in that room. :) We'll see if it helps. I also put Max and Sonny out on the back deck for some fresh air today for several hours. The weather was beautiful.
 

April

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Thanks for the wonderful info,I hope little Max feels better soon.
 

Saemma

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Just wanted to update and say that I decided to go ahead and order a whole new filter and prefilter for the Austin in that room. :) We'll see if it helps. I also put Max and Sonny out on the back deck for some fresh air today for several hours. The weather was beautiful.
That probably felt very very good!!:)
 

KatherinesBirds

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I have found over the years that with my African birds near breeding season they show a nasal discharge but are otherwise perfectly healthy. Right now I run a cool mist humidifier in the same room with my birds set at 65%.

Katherine;)
 

Holiday

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When we first got our BG/Kiwi she sneezed every 5 mins.
Our vet said put her in a steamy bathroom every day, so when we were showering, she sat there, it cleared her right up :)
I do that sometimes, Danita, but I probably need to do it more often. :hug8:
 

Danita

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We were told 15 mins a day :) When it is really acute, it would be twice a day.
She only goes into the steamy bathroom twice a week now.

OT Katherine, what is that cute little avatar of yours, mouse? So cute :heart:
 

Saemma

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Friendly reminder to Holiday, did you receive your pre-filter?:)
 
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