by Jeanne
(Portland, OR)

I have a Senegal who has learned to imitate well. My family all had colds recently and sneezed/coughed a lot and now we hear our Senegal sneezing occasionally. I am not noticing any discharge or fluffing against cold.

My question is: how do we determine if our bird has a real cold or is just imitating us?

I know that if he gets around dusty areas he will sneeze-can birds get allergies to common dust and such too?

Comments for BIRD COLDS

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Jan 10, 2008
Birds, Colds and Sneezing
by: The Vet

Birds can catch bacterial infections from us. Whenever a family member has cold they should wash their hands before handling their bird. They should also avoid having the bird near their face to reduce the chance of spreading the bacteria to their bird.

It can be difficult to tell an imitation cough or sneeze from the real thing sometimes. The important distinctions are if there is a discharge or not, and are there other symptoms of illness.

Birds will sneeze occasionally because of an irritant such as dust, and this is normal and expected. Birds rarely cough unless there is a serious problem; and, if there is a problem serious enough to cause coughing there will be other symptoms of illness such as fluffing, not eating, not vocalizing, etc.

Obviously an imitated sneeze or cough is not a problem; and the occasional sneeze is also not a problem. So if there are no other symptoms, there is no needed to be concerned.

However, birds do have allergies. Typically allergies will cause more sneezing (or coughing) than normal. There may even be a discharge, usually clear or mucoid, and there will likely be other symptoms such as excessive scratching, skin irritation, irritability, and general signs of illness.

Allergies are seen in birds but not frequently. They are usually related to excessive dust in the environment, unclean environment, corn cob bedding, other types of litter bedding, and even food allergies, especially to pellets with artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives and sugar (such as ZuPreem and KT). Birds are also sensitive to aflatoxins and mold almost always found on peanut shells.

Hope this helps. If you need more, please let me know.
Dr B

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