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August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS, Own Animal Care/Rescue Org
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 7532
Experience:  Dogs, Cats, Critters; Animal Care author; Behavior & Nutrition.;Cert. Avian & Opossum Specialist;
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parrot: sounds like he is wheezing and his nose holes

Customer Question

My parrot sounds like he is wheezing and his "nose holes" appear to have dirt in/on them. What should I do?
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 10 years ago.

I’ll cite information provided by Linda Pesek, DVM, Diplomate, ABVP. She is an avian medical expert whom I trust greatly.

Vitamin A deficiency (hypovitaminosis A) may lead to respiratory problems in birds which present as a blunting of the little projections (papilla) around the opening of the roof of the mouth. Also, granulomas in the mouth (little abcesses) are often seen. A bird existing on an all seed diet has a higher instance of vitamin A deficiency and many times, treatment of the problems outlined here involves simply improving the diet. Of course, getting the bird to cooperate may be another problem altogether.

In some cases, depending on the professional opinion of the veterinarian examining the extent of this deficiency, injectible and/or oral vitamin A may be advised.

Another possible problem is Rhinitis (inflammation of the nares/nostrils). There is nasal discharge involved that may be clear, cloudy or yellowish; thick or thin. The underlying cause may be anything from viral to bacterial or fungal. It could also be a reaction to a foreign object, which could be as common as dust or other bird’s feathers/dander.

Our blue & gold macaw (Sadie) has this condition flare up twice a year during high pollen counts. It’s especially common in macaws and amazons (birds from rainforest/tropical climates). The discharge may harden (rhinoliths) and if not (gently) wiped away regularly, it may plug the nares and cause several other severely complicated health issues.

Infection of the air sacs (air sacculitis) may also be the diagnosis upon examination. Symptoms for this including coughing, wheezing and labored breathing. It’s often more noticeable after the bird does something strenuous (like a flight). Treatment would depend on the infection (fungal, bacterial or viral).

When there is any respiratory distress in a bird, veterinary intervention to determine the source of the problem is necessary. If your bird is having normal droppings, is not fluffing, losing balance or sitting at the bottom of the cage, and is eating/drinking normally, it is probably not an emergency; however, it is something that should be seen within 24-48 hours.

(the sooner, the better)

In the meantime, be sure to wipe the nares (nostrils) with a soft, warm water moistened, clean cloth, to be sure they remain clear.

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