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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 27415
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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I am a new bird owner and got a cockatiel a few weeks ago.

Customer Question

I am a new bird owner and got a cockatiel a few weeks ago. She is a very sweet and loving bird and so far she seems to have adapted well to her new home. This morning she is on her perch and is staying fluffed and puffed up more than usual and she seems to be breathing a little heavily. She also has one foot tucked, which I've never seen her do before even when she is sound asleep. I just want to make sure she is OK. I'm worried, I've only had her a short time but I am already SO attached to this little bird! Thank you.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I just gave her some spray millet and she nibbled a little and then went back to her perch. She is still puffier than normal and still breathing a little heavy. Not panting, just breathing a little differently than usual. She also has her eyes closed. She didn't ear very much of her millet and she usually eats all of it and wants more.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I just checked on her again and she seems less puffy and her breathing has calmed down. She was also eating her regular food. I'm trying not to be a paranoid bird mommy but I love this little gal so much. I've read so many stories about aggressive cockatiels that hiss and bite and won't let their owners near them and I just feel so fortunate that my first bird is such a sweetheart!
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Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. I'm still concerned about Chica's behavior. Her fluffed/puffed appearance and dyspnea (heavy breathing) aren't pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of any one disorder in pet birds but often indicate respiratory infection and nutritional imbalances.It's important to note that once a cockatiel acts ill they're quite ill and in need of the attention of an avian-oriented vet (please see here: This is a protective mechanism because ill birds are attacked by other birds in the wild. An avian-oriented vet will first treat symptomatically and supportively by providing supplemental fluids and electrolytes by needle and tube feeding a "recovery" food. Blood tests and cultures of Chica's choana - the slit between her oral cavity and nose - and cloaca (vent) may be taken.Until Chica can be attended to, please heat up her environment to 90F by means of a 100W bulb shined into her partially covered cage (not at night when she needs to rest) or by taping a heating pad set on its lowest setting to the sides of her cage. Remove her perches and put her food and water on the bottom of the cage along with her. Add a water soluble avian vitamin such as Oasis brand to her water at half of the recommended dose so as not to make her water distasteful. Add a calcium supplement such as Calcivet or Calciboost to her water. These supplements are available in pet/feed stores. Avoid over the counter antibiotics designed to be placed in her water. They won't be effective if only because an ill bird won't drink enough to medicate itself properly.Nutritional imbalances are a common cause of illness in our pet birds. What has Chica's diet consisted of, please?