Home » Do Parrots Need To Go To The Vet?
do veterinarians treat parrots?

Do Parrots Need To Go To The Vet?

(Last Updated On: June 12, 2023)

All owners want to prolong their parrots’ lifespan through healthy lifestyles and dietary choices, but veterinary check-ups and medical intervention are sometimes required.

Parrots can develop life-threatening diseases like polyomavirus and parrot fever. Only a veterinarian can administer the medicines and antibiotics needed to promote recovery. 

Register with an avian vet who understands parrots’ anatomy and physiology.

Do Veterinarians Treat Parrots?

Few veterinarians are trained in all aspects of animal health. Most can treat domestic and farm animals but aren’t trained to deal with exotic pets like parrots.

While veterinary schools have a course dedicated to avian medicine, it’s not a core requirement. Some schools don’t offer exotic bird courses, so not all vets are confident in treating parrots.

Vets with a Certificate in Zoo Medicine are qualified to treat birds and other exotic animals. You can determine who these vets are because they’ll have CertZooMed after their name.

You can take a parrot to a local vet for nail and feather clipping, which are standard veterinary practices.

How To Find An Avian Vet

Owners need an ABVP (American Board of Veterinary Practitioners) Avian board-certified Diplomate.

To find a vet, check the yellow pages under “veterinarians” and “animal hospitals.” You can also check the website of your state’s Veterinary Medical Association for further information.

do parrots need shots?

How Often Do Parrots Go To The Vet?

Parrots should be seen by an avian vet at least once a year.

While this doesn’t seem much, each examination should be thorough, including blood tests to detect changes or issues, particularly surrounding organ function.

Parrots are good at hiding their health issues. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, this skill developed in the wild, which happens with all prey animals.

Parrots are often in the advanced stages of a medical condition when symptoms manifest.

Annual health check-ups allow veterinarians to establish standard behavioral traits and early health issues that can be used as a baseline for future check-ups.

Even if a parrot is asymptomatic, sickness and disease can still be detected.

Do Parrots Need Vaccinations?

Most caged parrots aren’t routinely vaccinated. After the Wild Bird Importation Act was passed in 1992, birds were no longer allowed to be imported into the U.S., so common parrot diseases diminished.

Only the polyomavirus vaccine is available for parrots. This condition affects the body and organs, and it’s common in juvenile parrots aged 14-56 days old and can be fatal at this early age.

Polyomavirus attacks the immune system, making parrots more susceptible to infections. The virus kills quickly, usually in 1-2 days. The symptoms include the following:

Polyomavirus is contracted through other infected birds, air, dust, dander, and incubators.

Parrots that live alone don’t need the vaccine because they’re unlikely to be exposed to the disease. However, if you have other birds, get the vaccine as the risk of exposure increases.

Parrot Vaccination Vaccine Schedule

If you want a parrot to have the polyomavirus vaccine, ask a vet to administer the first dose at 4 weeks. Then, it’ll need its second dose after 6-8 weeks.

An older parrot will need a double dose of the vaccine. You can give a bird its first injection whenever convenient, and the second dose will be 2-4 weeks later.

Unfortunately, the vaccine’s efficacy remains unclear.

How To Prevent Polyomavirus

There’s no treatment for polyomavirus, so the vet can only diagnose the disease with a cloacal swab. Therefore, prevention is essential, which can be achieved with these steps:

  1. Get the parrot tested for polyomavirus once it arrives at your home.
  2. Keep the parrot quarantined from other birds.
  3. Disinfect the cage and surfaces regularly.
  4. Annual veterinary check-ups.

Transporting A Parrot To The Vet

Transporting a parrot to the vet isn’t always easy. Ensure it’s as stress-free as possible because parrots don’t deal well with stressful situations. You’ll need the following items:

  • Cardboard box.
  • Travel carrier.
  • Travel cage.
  • Towels.
  • Bird food.
  • Water.
  • Toys.
  • Non-perishable bird treats.

Use a dark container for transportation, but remember to pierce breathing holes in various places. Alternatively, use a small to medium-sized plastic pet carrier.

Aim for a carrier that allows space for the parrot to be comfortable but prevents it from flapping its wings. Position it in a secure location in the car, or secure it with a seat belt.

How Much Does It Cost To Take A Parrot To The Vet?

A standard parrot vet check-up usually costs around $85-$100 per visit. However, this only includes the examination, not any treatments or tests resulting from the examination.  

Unforeseen costs can accrue, so pet insurance is recommended. Standard insurance prices range from $5-30 a month and cover the cost of illness, injuries, accidents, and death.

Signs A Parrot Needs A Vet

Parrots attempt to hide their symptoms. This behavior is carried through to domestication, meaning owners don’t always notice the initial symptoms.

Be aware of changes in a parrot’s behavior or appearance so that you can schedule a health check. The following are common signs that a parrot should see a vet:


A sign of illness is a change in the parrot’s vocalization. Any bird that stops chirping or singing is unwell, and any changes in tone should be monitored.

A bacterial or fungal infection can cause voice changes. Also, it may signify Aspergillosis (a disease caused by Aspergillus). Also, check for gasping, squeaking, wheezing, and labored breathing.

Changes in Posture

If a parrot spends more time than usual standing on one leg or refuses to move one (or both) of its wings, it may have a physical injury. The parrot will hide its pain but won’t be able to for long.

Loss of Appetite

Parrots have high metabolisms, so they always require regular food.

Some are picky with their food, especially if they’re allowed to choose what they eat, but a parrot that refuses to eat needs veterinary attention.


Signs of lethargy, depression, or fatigue are negative signs.

Parrots are usually active, and prolonged inactivity shouldn’t be ignored. Similarly, parrots that refuse to exercise or lie still at the bottom of their cage need veterinary care.


Some parrots are more prone to irritability than others. However, if a parrot’s bad mood seems out of character or lasts for days, it’s likely due to extreme discomfort.

While hormones can cause irritability, behavioral issues signify ill health.

how much does it cost to take a parrot to the vet?

Common Parrot Health Problems

Common health concerns include the following:

Parrot Fever

Also known as psittacosis, parrot fever is a highly contagious disease that affects hookbill birds.

It’s a Chlamydia bacterium that causes eye infections, inflammation, difficulty breathing, watery droppings, and lethargy.

A vet will administer tetracycline, an antibiotic injected or taken orally.

Psittacine Beak And Feather Disease

PBFD affects all species of parrots. The illness causes feather loss, a lack of dander, growths, lesions, and beak abnormalities. Affected parrots may experience abnormal feather development.

There’s no PBFD treatment available, meaning a vet will offer pain relief and supportive care.


Candida is a fungal infection that causes yeast overgrowth in the digestive tract.

It’s contagious between birds and causes white lesions around the throat and mouth, lethargy, loss of appetite, and vomiting. Candida can be treated with antifungal medication like Nystatin.

Proventricular Dilatation Disease

PDD is commonly known as Macaw Wasting Syndrome and Parrot Wasting Syndrome because it mostly impacts Macaws, African greys, Amazon parrots, cockatoos, and conures.

It affects the gastrointestinal tract, the nerves that supply it, and other organs.

Most birds don’t show signs of PDD until they’re sick but affected parrots experience weight loss, vomiting, watery droppings, and a swollen crop.

An avian vet will recommend a healthy diet and administer nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). There’s no cure, so these drugs minimize discomfort.

Veterinary treatment will likely be required during a parrot’s lifetime. Many common conditions spread quickly between birds and present themselves asymptomatically.