parrots nose problems

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 still be uncomfortable. The good news is that it’s relatively easy to prevent them by offering proper care, a clean cage, and a balanced diet.

Parrot nostril problems include nasal discharge, sinus infections, sneezing, clogged nose holes, and a runny nose. Your parrot may find its nostrils are swollen and inflamed, wet, or bleeding. In particularly bad cases, the parrot’s beak may be deformed, rubbery, or discolored.

These issues are usually caused by infection, birth defects, trauma, and mites. Parrots can have allergies that lead to sneezing and a runny nose. Too dry air can irritate the nose and respiratory tract of parrots native to humid environments. Dust, mold, fungi spores, parrot dust, and even foreign objects can get stuck in their 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 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:

  • Maintain a regular cleaning schedule for the bird cage
  • Install air filters in the parrot’s room
  • Take out any leftover food and 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 with 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 boost 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 airway and nose. A parrot’s reaction to this will be to sneeze. If sneezes fail to dislodge the object, it remains stuck 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. Aside from dirt or seed husks, other factors that may irritate, such as:

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

  • Coughing
  • Whistling breath
  • Difficulty breathing

Treatment and Prevention

Allow a vet to remove foreign objects from your parrot’s nose as doing it yourself risks further damage or irritation. 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 for minor surgery.

Clogged Nose Holes

Birth defects can affect any animal, no matter how carefully breeders track lineage. At times, something goes wrong during 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 an excess of 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 tools to remove. Malformed beaks and nares will require specialized management and treatment from a vet.

Parrot Has A Runny Nose

Wet nostrils in parrots can also result from excessive sneezing due to allergies. Parrots can have allergic reactions to:

  • Pollen
  • Food
  • Mold
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Other particles that can be inhaled or touched
  • Dust or aerosolized deodorant can trigger an allergy

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 with airborne particles, such as dust or pollen.

Limit your parrot’s exposure by maintaining a clean home and enclosure. Air filters may be a solution, along with cleaning the filters on any air conditioning unit.

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 quickly spread from one parrot to another without intervention.

Treatment and Prevention

By the time you notice something is wrong with your parrot, the virus has likely reached the point where treatment will be long-term. The parrot may need to remain at the vet clinic to undergo intensive treatment and monitoring.

Treatment for any viral infection will involve a combination of medication and supportive treatments.

To prevent your parrot from catching a virus, stay up to date 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 airway. 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 airway, digestive tract, and beak.

The Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine notes that aspergillosis is life-threatening. Any fungal infection present in the parrot’s nose and airway 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. Mold and fungus spores grow in warm, damp places.

Fungal and mold outbreaks can be a problem for those with tropical parrots. 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 be used to prevent mold and fungal growth.

Parrots Nose Is Bleeding

Parasites aren’t that common, but mites can cause damage to the nare. Swollen ceres and discharge from the nostrils are common symptoms of parasites.  

Scaly face mites can directly 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. 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 bird cage to prevent reinfection. You should also quarantine new birds and treat them for parasites.

parrot has crusty nare

Soft or Rubbery Parrot Beak

Proper nutrition is essential. A parrot that’s 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.

These vitamins play an important role in maintaining strong beaks. 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, to ensure that it’s getting all it needs. The best source of Vitamin D is sunlight. Allow your parrot to perch by a window with sun exposure, or let it fly on a harness.

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

Cancer often has fatal consequences, so seek veterinary advice without delay.

Treatment and Prevention

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

There is no way to prevent cancer entirely. Giving your parrot a balanced diet, enrichment, and exercise keeps it in top health so that increases its chances of survival.