Prozac for feather plucker

by Marthie
(Centurion South Africa)

How safe is Prozac for my 8yr old grey, She has been plucking for about 6mnths. She has now been fitted with an e-collar.

Diet is perfect and no skin abnormalities(samples were tested) Lot more talkative and social since taking Prozac. Dosage 2.5mg per day (she weighs 480g) How long should I continue giving her this?

Comments for Prozac for feather plucker

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May 16, 2018
bird sores
by: Lee

I have a Citrin Cockatoo .

She have been plucking for years now .she is 33 and I have had her since she was a baby .i have taken her to numerous vets .I know she is a happy bird ,she eats pelleted food among other things fruits, vegetables ,peanut butter , and assorted other things .she tastes table food also .
i have never clipped her wings she flies freely in my home and trained to designated places for droppings and she is caged only when I go out or when she sleeps ,she has a sleep cage in another room for quiet and dark .She gets lots and lots of attention .
i live in Florida and have a screened lanai she flies around it and we exercise here there .She loves being outdoors and only when we are present do we allow it .
I buy toys for here to forage .I cannot think of anything more to do .She is now causing sores on her leg and will not allow it to heal .I do not know what to do about that .i will try anything if anyone has a suggestion .

May 04, 2018
Does anyone know...
by: Bonnie's caretaker

...whether you can give a stressed bird melatonin?

Nov 07, 2016
AntiDepressants for Birds
by: KayinTexas

Another comment mentioned she'd never heard of anti-depressants being prescribed to caged birds- *I* have. It was actually on a pet-related TV program, on the Animal Planet or one of those networks, that not only was prescribed, but recommended for parrots. The bird, I believe, was a grey if I remember correctly. I find this a bad idea for many reasons: birds can't communicate how well or not well they are doing on the medication, so there is no way to tell which strength is best. Another reason: SSRI's can NOT be stopped, the patient will suffer physical torture when stopping any of the SSRI medications. They can also suffer from the deadly "Serotonin Syndrome". I mention the danger in stopping, as any bird can be lost only to be found by someone with no knowledge of their prescription. God forbid the owner who is providing the meds suddenly dies, or is in an accident, and the new caretaker is oblivious to the bird's medicines. The very idea of prescribing psychiatric drugs to a caged bird is so distasteful to me, and to know that any veterinarian would even consider prescribing them is astonishing to me. Yes, it DOES occur (antidepressants to birds) and I would run away from any vet that would consider such a thing.

Jun 14, 2014
Please ignored Linda's comments
by: Anonymous

Prozac is NOT a particularly strong antidepressant and is not considered dangerous when used appropriately under a doctor's direction. Some avian vets prescribe pediatric Prozac -- in doses that are appropriate for the size of the animal! -- for birds that feather pick

May 14, 2014
we need new recommendation
by: Peggy

Please stop with the same old advice... There are so many birds that pluck their feathers that have been given all the "right" things, ie lots of fruit and veggies, spacious cages, tons of toys, full spectrum lighting , love and attention. We need more studies done on prozac, or any other anti anxioty meds that may help. The shelters and santuarys are full of plucked birds that no one wants. Has anyone had any sucess in stopping a bird that has established a plucking pattern??

Mar 14, 2014
African Grey plucking
by: Kendra

I have had my African Grey (Frankie) since he was a wee baby 10 weeks old. He has a very large cage with lots of toys, I also have a cockatoo and McCaw and a couple of love birds...I am a bird lover indeed. My flock are out of their cages approx. 3 hours per day during the week and on weekends out complete with access to go in and out. My husband and I went on vacation for 10 days and came back to a plucked Frankie...mostly his flight feathers and down his back and he know longer has his beautiful red tail feathers. My mother who lives with us and loves our feather friends looked after the my flock for the 10 days...she was totally upset to see the plucking per day in Frankie. Although no other changes were made in his daily route. Coming home and seeing him in a terrible state, I made an appointment immediately for a vet visit and took Frankie on the 1-1/2 ride to our Avian Vet. Blood work was done and his numbers were off the charts...apparently Frankie needs more in his diet than his organic pellets. I have offered Frankie fresh fruit or veggies but he doesn't like them. What do you recommend I give him for a substitute in vitamin lacking in his diet?

My Vet also recommended a small dose of Prozac once we do another blood testing to see if his numbers are better. AFter reading the blogs I am more aware of the need for a natural alternative to then prozac.

As for the other birds, they are happy and content!

Jan 26, 2014
prozac for avians
by: Thor

I have just recently heard of prozac for feather plucking. I have a 25 year old blue and gold macaw. she started plucking. I have had her to vets who recommended strictly pellets. Thor is really picky in her eating habits. She will not eat any thing green, which pretty much eliminates pellets. I am willing to try just about anything to help her be happy again. She has a large cage and is always out with me when I am home. Plenty of toys and lots to do. She seems to have a nesting instinct going on. She has layed 3 eggs, but not since she was 11. I need help. I love my bird and really at a loss.

Editor's note: Please read these two articles, even though you don't have a parakeet. Switching Birds To Pellets article

Switching Budgies To Pellets article

In the future if you want people to see and answer, you need to post a question, not an answer here to another question, on our Parrot Questions page.

Jan 01, 2014
no such thing as a happy pill
by: Iny"s Mom

I have worked as a Pharmacy Tech for 37yrs, and Prozac is no miracle pill for humans, so it certainly isn't for our bird friends in fact since so little information is available about it's overall impact good or bad is all the more reason to question it's use. Just because your vet recommends it doesn't make it the right coarse of treatment for your bird. I too have a feather plucker a Nanday-Jenday highbred Indy who has plucked herself so severely that she has required an emergency trip to the vet twice this year, most recently this last Sunday. I am very concerned for my little bird, but will pursue other avenues of treatment to hopefully address her needs. Prozac is a dangerous drug not one that should be prescribed because it might work.

Jul 08, 2010
Prozac is fine for dogs and birds
by: Anonymous

I have a german shepherd mix who is 8yrs old and was put on prozac months ago and he is doing wonderfully. They check him annually to make sure he isn't having any bad side effects and such and he has been healthy as can be.

I may also be putting my Senegal on prozac for self mutilating issues. My vet, as well as many others, know what they are talking about and have done their research and would not prescribe anything harmful to our beloved pets.

Jul 30, 2009
Prozac for birds
by: The Vet

You need to follow the advice of the attending clinician as to proper dosing and how long to treat. Generally we treat for 60-90 days with psychotropic drugs, then stop if we see no changes. I do not use this drug in birds because we have no idea what it is doing to or for them. There have been no official clinical trials. Only anecdotal reports, and none that have reported significant improvement on this drug.

Dr B

Jul 24, 2009
by: Anonymous

My african grey has been on the liquid form of prozac for 2 years. It has not completely eliminated the picking, but i believe prevention of further anxiety issues is just as valuable in our feather friends as in ourselves.

Jul 24, 2009
Prozac for Feather Plucker
by: Marthie

Hi thanks for your concern, but we'll see what the Vet says. There has actually been various articles published on Avian antidepressants, and apparantly PROZAC is one that is very compatable and successfull..I did do my homewrok, it's just that I cannot find any reference to duration of treatment.

Anni uses an organic pellet mix, I still feed her Birdie porridge (baby parrot food) daily, and she probably goes through about 2 cups of veg ( broccoli,sweetpotato,carrot,butternut green beans) and fruit ( apple,citrus,grenadilla, pawpaw. kiwi fruit). I mix palm fruit oil into her veg/fruit...1/2 tsp per day) At night she might get some table scraps, such as brown rice, chicken egg and sometims a mutton bone or piece of steak. She loves anything we eat( and I am aware of the danger foods) and loves pecking off our plates. She is allowed to do this as I am a firm believer that we are her "flock", and treat her as such.

As far as toys go she has quite a few pieces, which gets alternated when I wash them, which is normally weekly.

She only spends about 7 hrs a day in her cage( a BIG one..(1.5m X 1m X 1m) and listens to classical music. The rest of the time she is either on me or my husband. So she has lots of physical interaction. She is well socialised, and has gone shopping, visiting and on holiday since she was a baby.

We had a few (4) events which might have caused the start of the plucking.
1. We got an Australian Bearded Dragon...jealousy
2. We went on holiday without her for longer than normal..3 weeks(we were going across the border and could not take her with) my son, who lives with us cared for her.(He has done this in the past)
3. My housekeeper left now she is alone during the day
4. She laid her first egg ...nesting instinct.
So who knows what goes on in her little mind. Hopefully we'll get to the bottom of it.

Keep well

Jul 23, 2009
by: Linda

While we wait for Dr. B to respond to this, I cannot possibly imagine why a bird, dog, cat or most people would need to take a drug as dangerous as this one is. It has been called the "happy drug" in that, at first, it makes people feel good, almost giddy in fact. This may be what is happening with your bird right now.

As I said, we will wait for Dr. B to respond, and these drugs are only supposed to be prescribed by psychiatrists since they understand the dangers and side effects from something as strong as Prozac.

Keep watching out here for Dr. B's response as I think this drug may be extremely dangerous for your bird. Macaws, Cockatoos and a few others can resort to feather plucking if they are bored, sick or eating poor diets. Usually, when all the bird's needs are met, the feather plucking stops.

Is your bird eating an organic, high quality pelleted diet or just seeds? If just seeds, diet is missing major components for good nutrition. Does your bird have toys it likes to play with? Toys have to be changed out for newer toys every few months as birds get bored with them. They have attention spans like a 4-5 year old child, and the mental and emotional development of them as well. I never heard of Prozac being prescribed for a small child either.

I won't dispute what Dr. B has to say about the Prozac, but I think you are doing your bird way more harm than good. This is one of the most powerful of all the drugs prescribed for depression. Bad side effects, and a messed up brain is what usually results. I cannot believe a vet would prescribe something made for humans for a bird, and one as dangerous as this is.It is prescribed for people with such deeply engrained depression who have not responded to the lighter, safer drugs. Basically all the antidepressants are extremely dangerous and have a list of horrible and life threatening side effects a mile long! They are for short term usage only except in rare conditions like bipolar disorder. Birds do not develop these kinds of problems though they can become mentally ill from poor health, abuse and poor care.

Keep watching to see what Dr. B has to say about this, and, in the meantime, I'd find another vet in your area if you possibly can. If the bird has been on this drug for very long, it will have to be stepped down from it as stopping altogether is not recommended in people. This drug is a last resort, last stop for most people.


Jul 23, 2009
Human drugs for birds?
by: Tracie

Yikes!! Did your avian vet prescribe this? I have never heard of such a thing here in the US. I am hoping that Dr B will respond soon.

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