How to Treat Diarrhea in Cockatiels

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If your cockatiel is sick, it’s important to spot the sickness right away. In the case of diarrhea, this can be hard to spot in birds. Their droppings are naturally runny, as they contain both feces and urine together, so gauging when it is unhealthy can be hard. However, by assessing their droppings on a regular basis, looking for other signs of illness, and getting them proper veterinary care, you can quickly and effectively treat diarrhea and its underlying causes in cockatiels.[1]


EditSpotting the Signs of Diarrhea

  1. Look for signs of diarrhea at the bottom of your bird’s cage. If you have had a bird for awhile, you should know what its feces usually looks like on the bottom of its cage. If the consistency changes and becomes more liquid, then your bird probably has diarrhea.[2]
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    • A cockatiel’s droppings are typically a combination of clear liquid, the bird’s urine, white urates, which are byproducts of the kidneys, and light colored feces. The color of the feces will be different depending on what the bird eats.[3]
    • You need to differentiate between the urine and the feces in your bird’s droppings. If the droppings have no solid feces in them, then your bird is may have diarrhea.[4]
    • You should be changing the paper at the bottom of your bird’s cage at least once a week, so take that time to notice what its droppings usually look like. Understanding what healthy droppings look like can help you to figure out when your bird is sick.
  2. Identify behavioral signs of illness. Cockatiels can be very good at hiding the signs of illness. However, you may be able to spot the signs if you know what to look for. Look for changes in their behavior, such as:[5]
    Treat Diarrhea in Cockatiels Step 2.jpg
    • Not preening their feathers.
    • Lethargy.
    • Lack of usual vocalizations.
    • A reluctance to eat.
    • General uneasiness.
  3. Looking for related signs of illness. Diarrhea is typically a symptom of a specific disease, such as salmonella. If your cockatiel has diarrhea, then you should look for other signs of physical illness as well. This can help you assess whether your bird is sick. Some signs of illness to look out for include:[6]
    Treat Diarrhea in Cockatiels Step 3.jpg
    • Vomiting.
    • Regurgitation.
    • Discharge from the nostrils or eyes.
    • Ruffled and unkempt feathers.
    • Blood in the stool, which appears black.
  4. Look for possible causes for illness in your environment. In some cases, cockatiels can get into things that they shouldn’t when they are allowed out of their cages. If you have let your cockatiel explore your home unsupervised, look for areas that are disturbed and assess whether any items in that area could be harmful to your bird. Some possible hazards and toxins include:[7]
    Treat Diarrhea in Cockatiels Step 4.jpg
    • Toxic foods, such as chocolate, caffeinated drinks, and alcohol.
    • Human medications.
    • Toxic metals, such as lead or zinc.
    • Pest control products, such as rat poison.
    • Toxic plants, such as lily, poinsettia, elephant ear, and others.

EditGetting Veterinary Care for Your Cockatiel

  1. Have signs of illness assessed by a veterinarian. If you have spotted physical or behavioral signs of illness in your bird, then you should have it looked at by a veterinarian. A veterinarian will be able to assess the bird’s overall health and diagnose any specific problems through a variety of medical tests.
    Treat Diarrhea in Cockatiels Step 5.jpg
    • Tests commonly used on cockatiels include blood analysis and X-rays.[8]
    • Common causes of diarrhea that your veterinarian will be looking for include: bacterial infections, viral infections, fungal infections, toxins, changes in diet, and blockages in the intestinal tract.[9]
  2. Follow your veterinarian’s suggestions for treatment. Depending on your bird’s underlying illness, your veterinarian may suggest a variety of treatment options. These may include changes to its diet, giving it medication, or changes to its lifestyle or environment.[10]
    Treat Conjunctivitis in Cockatiels Step 2.jpg
    • For a serious bacterial, viral, or fungal infections, you veterinarian is likely to prescribe medication to give to your bird. This is typically an antibiotic or anti-fungal medication.
    • Your veterinarian may also suggest temporary or long-term changes to your cockatiel’s diet. This can include changing the seed you feed the bird or eliminating fruits and vegetables temporarily in order to firm up your bird’s droppings.
    • In cases of a severe intestinal blockage, the veterinarian may suggest surgery to remove the obstruction.
  3. Continue to assess your cockatiel’s condition. As you are treating your bird at home, you should continue to assess its condition. Don’t assume that your veterinarian’s treatment suggestions will automatically clear up your bird’s illness. Watch for continued diarrhea and other related symptoms and talk to the veterinarian if the symptoms continue or get worse.[11]
    Treat Diarrhea in Cockatiels Step 7.jpg
    • If your cockatiel’s condition does not improve with treatment, don’t hesitate to take your bird back to its veterinarian. It is important for its health to get any illness treated effectively.

EditPreventing Diarrhea

  1. Get regular veterinary care for your cockatiel. Even if your cockatiel is not showing any signs of illness, it should be looked at by a veterinarian regularly. Preventative care can catch illnesses that are hard to spot, such as diarrhea-causing illnesses, and can extend the life of your pet.[12]
    Treat Diarrhea in Cockatiels Step 8.jpg
    • One way veterinarians can help your bird is by identifying and eliminating parasitic infections, which is a common cause of diarrhea.[13]
  2. Make diet changes gradually. Abrupt diet changes are a common cause of diarrhea in cockatiels, as they throw off the bird’s digestion. If you need to change your bird’s diet, make the change gradually.[14]
    Treat Diarrhea in Cockatiels Step 9.jpg
    • Add a little bit of the new food to whatever you have been feeding the bird previously. Over the course of several weeks, increase the amount of new food you are giving the bird until eventually it is eating only the new food.
  3. Keep your bird’s cage clean. Diarrhea can be a symptom of a variety of diseases, so limiting your cockatiel’s exposure to disease will help with its prevention. The most important way to keep your bird disease free is to keep its cage clean.
    Treat Diarrhea in Cockatiels Step 10.jpg
    • You should do a quick daily cleaning of your bird’s cage, which should include cleaning your bird’s food and water dishes and replacing the contents. You should also replace the paper at the bottom of your bird’s cage daily.
    • On a regular basis you should do a thorough cleaning of your bird’s cage. You will need to remove the bird and all items inside. Clean each item your bird uses and sanitize the entire cage.
  4. Quarantine new birds. In order to prevent the spread of disease, you should keep new birds separated from your existing birds when you first bring them home. Making sure that new birds don’t have diseases that can spread to your existing birds is key to keeping your birds diarrhea free.
    Treat Diarrhea in Cockatiels Step 11.jpg
    • New birds should be kept in a separate room from existing birds for 30 days. You should also be sure to keep care items, such as food dishes and cleaning tools, completely separate during this time.[15]

EditSources and Citations

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