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Parrot Nostril Problems Explained

Parrots can have problems with their nostrils that cause further issues with their beak, nares, and ceres. Not all of these issues are life-threatening, but they can make life uncomfortable.

Parrot nostril problems include nasal discharge, sinus infections, sneezing, clogged nose holes, and a runny nose. Your parrot may find its nostrils become swollen and inflamed, wet, or bleeding.

The parrot’s beak may become deformed, rubbery, or discolored in particularly severe cases.

These issues are usually caused by infection, birth defects, trauma, and mites. Also, parrots can have allergies that lead to sneezing and a runny nose.

Too dry air can irritate the nose and respiratory tract of parrots. Also, dust, mold, fungi spores, parrot dust, and foreign objects can get stuck in the nose or congest the nose.

Nasal Discharge And Sinus Infection in Parrots

These symptoms can be due to bacterial or sinus infections.

For example, psittacosis is caused by the chlamydia psittaci bacterium. According to Infectious Disease Clinics, it’s so common that it’s referred to as parrot fever.

A bacterial infection may target your parrot’s nose, nare, and sinuses. They can even spread from the eyes to the nose and sinuses, causing:

  • Irritation
  • Inflammation
  • Sinus infections

For the most part, these infections begin due to unhygienic conditions or environmental factors, such as:

  • Living in an overly dry environment
  • A surplus of parrot dust
  • A small or dirty cage

These lead to issues with the beak and nostrils as the infection progresses.

Treatment and Prevention

Antibiotic medications will be administered, along with supportive therapies for recovery. Your parrot may need to have its nose flushed with a solution to clear out any debris.

Long-term cleaning may be required, and your vet will teach you how to clean a parrot’s nostrils. You can’t entirely prevent bacterial infections, but you can reduce the likelihood by doing the following:

  • Maintain a regular cleaning schedule for the bird cage
  • Install air filters in the parrot’s room
  • Take out any leftover food
  • Clean away drying feces before they become airborne

If particles lift into the air, such as parrot dust, they’ll be caught by the filters. If your parrot is from a tropical region, such as macaws, provide humid air.

If there’s no fresh air coming into the home, such as during winter or summer, air-conditioners and heaters will be in frequent use. You can add a humidifier to increase the moisture in your home.

You can also offer your parrot daily baths or allow it to perch in the bathroom while running a shower.

nasal discharge in parrots

Parrot Sneezing with Nostrils Blocked

This is usually caused by foreign bodies, like feathers, seed husks, and dirt. They become trapped in the airways and nose. A parrot’s reaction to this will be to sneeze. If sneezes fail to dislodge the object, it’ll remain in place.

This debris can irritate the nose and nasal passages. A build-up of dust can lead to clumps of sticky or dried mucus.

Continued exposure can lead to crusty nares and clogged nose holes. Minor irritants may result in excessive sneezing and the parrot rubbing its beak.

There may be a build-up of crust around the nostrils due to excessive sneezing. The object may travel to the parrot’s airways, causing further damage or restricting airflow, leading to:

  • Coughing
  • Whistling breath
  • Difficulty breathing

Treatment and Prevention

Your vet will manually remove the object or use a solution to flush it out. If the item is deep or thoroughly lodged, the parrot may need to be sedated in readiness for minor surgery.

Clogged Nose Holes

Birth defects can affect any animal, no matter how carefully breeders track its lineage. At times, something goes wrong during the bird’s development.

Choanal atresia is one such defect and involves the nasal cavity being unable to open into the roof of the beak. Aside from birth defects, the beak, cere, or nares could be permanently deformed by injury.

Parrots’ beaks are a combination of bone and keratin. Like human nails and hair, the beak is constantly growing. Damage to the beak, including the nostrils, can result in scarification. This prevents the keratin from growing correctly, leading to an overgrowth of keratin that blocks the nares or leads to weaker sections of the beak.

There are also conditions where the beak’s growth is defective, such as brown hypertrophy. This happens to parakeets when there’s a keratin build-up due to excess protein or estrogen.

This overgrowth continues until the nostrils are blocked completely.

Treatment and Prevention

A slight overgrowth of keratin can be softened with ointment, allowing the excess to be easily removed.

Larger overgrowths, or those that block the nares, will require specialized removal tools. Malformed beaks and nares will need specialized management and treatment from a vet.

Parrot Has A Runny Nose

Wet nostrils in parrots can result from excessive sneezing due to allergies from:

  • Pollen
  • Food
  • Mold
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Dust
  • Aerosolized deodorant

Alongside sneezing and a runny nose, allergy symptoms include:

  • Reddened eyes
  • Swollen or inflamed ceres
  • Itchy skin conditions

These can be symptoms of other maladies, so a veterinary diagnosis may be required.

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment will depend on what’s triggering the allergy. Keep track of changes in the season, food, and anything else your parrot may have been exposed to.

There may be some trial and error involved if a type of food is suspect. To enable the parrot to recover, antihistamines and topical lotions or sprays may be prescribed to soothe the symptoms.

Preventing allergies will involve eliminating the allergen. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible due to airborne particles, such as dust or pollen.

Limit your parrot’s exposure by maintaining a clean home and enclosure. Air filters and cleaning the filters of air conditioning units may be a solution.

Parrot Nostrils Are Swollen And Inflamed

Many viral infections can impact a parrot’s nose and ability to breathe. Crusty nares and nostril discharge are symptoms of many illnesses, but they rarely appear alone if a virus is responsible.

Symptoms will be paired with:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Tail bobbing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Noisy breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Ruffled feathers
  • Feather loss

Three viral infections cause issues with a parrot’s nostrils, including:

  • Avian influenza
  • Newcastle disease
  • Infectious bronchitis

These are all highly contagious and will spread quickly.

Treatment and Prevention

The parrot may need to remain at the veterinary clinic to undergo intensive treatment and monitoring.

To prevent your parrot from catching a virus, keep up with vaccinations. Also, quarantine new parrots for a month before introducing them to each other.

Wet Nostrils in Parrots

Fungal infections can begin in (or spread to) the nose and airways. Aspergillosis and candida are two common fungal infections, resulting in discharge from the nose.

Aspergillosis causes respiratory diseases in birds, and candida can spread further into the body, including the airways, digestive tract, and beak.

The Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine notes that aspergillosis is life-threatening. Any fungal infection in the parrot’s nose and airways should be treated without delay.

Treatment and Prevention

Fungal infections are contagious. Any afflicted parrots should be isolated from others in the home or flock. A vet will likely clean the parrot’s beak and perform a flush with an antifungal solution.

Preventing fungal treatments often rely on giving the parrot a nutritionally balanced diet. Just as importantly, it must live in a clean environment as mold and fungus spores grow in warm, damp places.

You need humidity for the parrot to live comfortably and prevent nostril and respiratory problems. However, you must prevent fungus and mold from growing in that humid area.

Regular cleaning, fresh airflow, and air filters can prevent mold and fungal growth.

Parrots Nose Is Bleeding

Mites can cause damage to the nare. Swollen ceres and discharge from the nostrils are symptoms of parasites.  

Scaly face mites can impact a parrot’s beak and cere. These tiny mites burrow into the skin and eat the keratin that makes up the parrot’s beak and nare, resulting in:

  • Holes in the beak
  • Lumps as the keratin grows back over the damage

Other parasites, such as gapeworm (Syngamus trachea), infect the parrot internally and cause respiratory infections and nasal discharge.

Bird-to-bird transfer is the most common way that parasites infest new birds. Direct or close contact enables parasites to find a new host, and they can even be transferred through shed feathers and droppings.

Treatment and Prevention

Targeted or general anti-parasitics will be prescribed to treat an infestation. During treatment, you’ll need to sanitize the cage to prevent reinfection. You should quarantine new birds and treat them for parasites.

parrot has crusty nare

Soft or Rubbery Parrot Beak

A parrot lacking in nutrients will find that certain health problems develop. A lack of Vitamin A and Vitamin D, in particular, may cause problems with the parrot’s beak and nares.

Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium and bone health. Soft and weak beaks, also called rubber beaks, can result from a vitamin deficiency. In the worst cases, they can cause abnormal growth of the beak.

Treatment and Prevention

No food product labeled as a complete diet should be the parrot’s sole food source. Instead, give your parrot a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts.

The best source of Vitamin D is sunlight. Allow your parrot to perch by a window with sun exposure.

Discolored Parrot Beak

This malignant cell growth may cause tumors to grow in the parrot’s body. Cancer may form in and on the beak, including the nares and ceres.

Aside from weight loss and lethargy, signs of cancer include:

  • Tumorous growths
  • Discoloration of the beak

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment is possible if the tumor is caught early. Tumors can be surgically removed, and bouts of chemotherapy are used to manage the development of malignant growths that can’t be removed.

Giving your parrot a balanced diet, enrichment, and exercise will keep it in good health.