As parrots release urine and feces simultaneously, many owners mistake polyuria (an excessive release of urine) for diarrhea (loose, watery stools).
A single, unexplained bout of diarrhea may be caused by stress or excitement for parrots.
Ensure nothing has unsettled the parrot and its living conditions are appropriate. Worm the parrot to kill any parasites causing a gastric upset.
A sudden diet change can upset a parrot’s stomach, as can spoiled food. Consider if you need to adjust the parrot’s meal plan and ensure it isn’t consuming anything toxic, like rhubarb leaves.
If diarrhea lasts longer than 24 hours, it may signify illness or infection, so consult a vet.
Does My Parrot Have Diarrhea?
Parrots poop regularly, but their waste should take on a distinct appearance and shape. Healthy parrot feces is firm, long, tubular, and green.
If a parrot’s poop is loose and watery, it could have diarrhea. While gastric upsets are rare in birds, they can arise in certain situations. Sometimes different conditions are confused with each other.
Polyuria vs. Diarrhea
Polyuria is a condition where the parrot produces more urine than usual. As discussed, parrots release pee at the same time as their droppings. Consequently, polyuria can leave a parrot’s waste wet and loose.
If a parrot has polyuria, its droppings will be uncurled and surrounded by a white, mucous-like liquid. Diarrhea will remain green, while polyuria means a parrot’s waste will primarily be milk-colored.
The causes of polyuria are similar to those that cause diarrhea, although this concern is usually accompanied by polydipsia (a compulsion to drink water to excess).
According to the Iranian Journal of Veterinary Science and Technology, polyuria and polydipsia are uncommon. If a parrot releases excessive urine, take this concern seriously.
What Causes Diarrhea in Parrots?
If a parrot experiences diarrhea for less than 24 hours, the gastric upset may be linked to a unique incident that has passed. If the problem persists, here are the main causes:
Stress or Overstimulation
The sudden onset of diarrhea may be explained by stress or overstimulation. Some parrots experience a gastric problem if they’re upset or left to grow too excited, especially in younger birds.
Your first task upon noticing diarrhea should be to assess the parrot’s lifestyle and living arrangements. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Has something frightened the parrot, like a loud noise, excessive light, or bright colors?
- Is the parrot getting enough exercise, and is its cage large enough?
- Does the parrot have enough entertainment in its cage, and are you providing enough company?
- Is the room temperature appropriate (between 65O F and 80OF)?
If necessary, make adjustments to prevent a repeat of loose and runny stools. Diarrhea caused by stress or excitement should be a short-term occurrence.
Parrots need a balanced diet. An excessive protein intake will frequently cause a stomach upset, as will the consumption of spoiled foods or a sudden change in diet.
Hypocalcemia, which is a lack of calcium in the diet, is also linked to loose and wet stools in birds. This condition is common in parrots exclusively fed a seed-based diet.
Fruit or vegetables with a high water content can lead to polyuria (commonly mistaken for diarrhea).
Obesity and Fatty Liver Disease
Another medical concern for parrots is weight gain and obesity. An overweight parrot will struggle to support its mass, leading to issues with its feet and an inability to perch.
The internal damage caused by weight gain is even more troubling. Obese parrots may develop fatty liver disease, resulting in fat cells accumulating around the liver.
An infectious disease can cause diarrhea in parrots, including the following:
Parrots, especially those in unsanitary living conditions, can get bacterial infections that cause diarrhea and loose stools. The most common is chlamydophilosis (parrot fever).
Chlamydophilosis is caused by Chlamydophila psittaci, a bacterial organism that attacks a parrot’s organs and may manifest with symptoms of a respiratory illness alongside loose stools. As this bacteria impacts the liver, the stools may also be yellow.
As per Veterinary Research, this infection is zoonotic, so wear gloves when handling a parrot with suspected chlamydophilosis. The infection is treated with Doxycycline, taking up to 2 months to clear.
Airborne viral infections can impact a parrot’s health and can be contagious. If you have more than one bird, a parrot with a viral infection must be isolated and quarantined until it recovers.
The most concerning viral infection a parrot can develop is polyomavirus, which is frequently fatal to young birds as it attacks the nervous system. Diarrhea is an early sign of infection.
If the parrot experiences diarrhea alongside other symptoms of a viral infection, including lethargy and depression, vomiting, and ruffling of the feathers, seek veterinary assistance.
A parrot with a substandard immune system, potentially caused by old age, poor diet, or underlying sickness, could be prone to fungal infections.
The most common type is Aspergillus mold, which can irritate a bird’s bowels.
Aspergillus can be caused by leaving food in a parrot cage too long, so it begins to spoil and rot. Air conditioning, tower fans, or space heaters can also lead to mold spores.
The most common parasites in parrots are intestinal worms, like roundworms and tapeworms.
Parrots can also get giardiasis from food or soil contaminated with giardia duodenalis, a parasitic germ.
Pet stores sell medication to kill parasites in the digestive tract. This is administered orally using a pipette. Always worm parrots every 6 months as a precaution.
A parrot may have ingested or inhaled toxins or even experienced dermal exposure.
According to Veterinary Clinics of North America: Exotic Animal Practice, lead and zinc are common toxins parrots encounter. Avoid anything that contains these heavy metals.
Other toxins that can disturb a parrot’s digestive health include:
- Aerosols, including air fresheners.
- Cleaning products used in and around the parrot’s cage.
- Insecticides and pesticides in fresh food.
- Scented candles and some essential oils.
- Plastic toys and accessories.
- Tobacco products.
- Wild plants.
- Non-stick cookware (Tefal).
Toxicity is a medical emergency in parrots, with diarrhea just one of the warning signs.
This may arise once egg binding is resolved. The parrot must relieve itself of all waste accumulated in the body as quickly as possible, lest it becomes toxic.
A bout of diarrhea doesn’t necessarily mean the parrot is no longer eggbound. When a parrot prepares to lay eggs, the cloaca – where birds release feces and eggs – relaxes.
How To Treat Parrot Diarrhea
A parrot will likely feel weak and exhausted after a bout of diarrhea and become dehydrated. Encourage the parrot to drink water, ideally mixing in a bird-safe electrolyte to restore a natural balance to its body.
Parrots sometimes drop to the bottom of the cage, and whatever has caused the loose stool isn’t something you want close to the bird. Remove and replace the cage lining immediately.
If the diarrhea was a one-off and the parrot shows no signs of distress or a repeat incident, consider lifestyle changes that may be necessary, including a change of location or diet.
Diarrhea that persists for consecutive eliminations, and certainly for longer than 24 hours, should be considered a medical concern worthy of a vet appointment.