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Ensuring the Health of your Parrot

Dr Neil A Forbes BVetMed DipECZM(avian) FRCVS

RCVS Specialist Emeritus Zoo and Wildlife (avian)




It is generally preferable to purchase a healthy quality bird direct from a trusted and respected breeder, rather than one which has mixed with all sorts of other birds, of unknown health status, from a range of sources.

The more effort you make to provide everything your bird really needs, the more he/she will get out of your ownership, as will you yourself.

Veterinary Services 


If you take the decision to purchase a pet bird, then you accept the legal responsibility to get him to appropriately qualified and experienced veterinary care, as and when the needs arise, even if this means travelling some distance. Pet bird insurance is available and will protect you in the event that your bird does become ill.

New Bird Health Checks


You would not purchase a new house, horse or car, without some reassurance of its state of ‘health’. In respect of a bird, they are notorious for hiding the signs of ill health, so it is vital to submit your new bird for a veterinary check, with an avian vet, within the first few days of ownership. A range of tests may be offered depending on the species and source, these would include psittacosis, which is a disease that infected birds can pass to humans, for whom it can be very dangerous.

Your First Vet Visit


Hopefully when you visit the vet for the first time, they will physically examine the bird, collect and test a blood sample, but also talk to you about nutrition, training, household dangers, recognizing the signs of ill health, heath checks and the essential need for environmental and nutritional enrichment.

Remember if your bird looks sick today – it must be examined by a suitably qualified and experienced bird vet ‘today’.

A list of household dangers is provided here: Parrot Safety: 10 Household Dangers That Can Kill Parrots |

The Importance of Your Bird, Being Able to Behave Like a Bird


Almost all parrots are gregarious social creatures, i.e. accustomed and designed to live in a flock or group, so having more than one bird (from the same source), is often advised. Likewise the bird must be permitted to do normal parrot behaviour, that includes flying (safely), so being shut in a cage, day after day, is no longer considered to be appropriate.

Hygiene for your Bird


It is advisable to limit access to your bird by anyone who has their own pet bird, their own poultry and that works with poultry or wild birds of any type. If you or any member of your family goes out and spends time in an area that might be frequented by wildfowl (ducks, geese etc), please ensure that they have washed well and changed clothes and shoes before going near your parrot.

Cleaning Your Bird Out


It is important to keep your bird as clean as possible, being cleaned whenever there is a build up of faeces or spoiled food. Once cleaned, (scraped down then washed with warm soapy water), it should be sprayed with an appropriate safe and effective disinfectant, e.g. F10. Remember that for a disinfectant to be effective, you must clean first with warm soap and water, then apply the disinfectant, which must remain in contact and damp for at least 15 minutes. Food and water containers, must be cleaned, washed and disinfected each day, (e.g. soaked in F10 for 15 minutes).


Nutrition is covered elsewhere and so will not be covered here, however it is true that most if not all parrots will benefit from 1/2 an apples worth of fresh fruit / veg – each day. This is best fed, hung up from a fruit spear, otherwise a parrot will tip out what is on top, thinking there is something better at the bottom of the bowl. Fresh fruit, should not be left with a parrot for more than 6 hours, reducing to 4 hours in warm weather, this is due to the growth a yeast on the fruit which can be a danger to birds. Alternatively, you can submerse fresh fruit in F10 disinfectant for 15 minutes prior to feeding it, then the risk should be neutralized.


Further uses and applications for F10 in respect of your bird are shown here: F10 Treatment applications in Avian patients - YouTube

Remember not to mix your bird with other birds, on a casual basis, even if they look healthy. Most sick birds look healthy until they are close to deaths door. At least 75% of infectious diseases of birds can be airborne, i.e. they can be passed from bird to bird in the same room, even when they remain in their own cages.

Boarding your Pet Parrot

As with all things in life, there are good and bad. It is extremely easy for a parrot carrying an infectious disease to pass it on to another parrot in an adjacent cage, or to any bird that is kept in the same air space that it was in. So don’t board your pet parrot, unless the boarding establishment will provide a disinfected enclosed space for each bird. Moreover if they don’t insist that you have your bird blood screened for various diseases shortly before boarding, then all other birds who stay at the establishment will also be of unknown health status. For sure my parrots would never stay in such an establishment! 

This page has been kindly sponsored by F10 Products

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