parrots nose problems

Parrot Nostril Problems Explained

Parrots can have various issues with their nostrils that cause further problems with their beak, nares, and ceres. Not all of these issues are life-threatening, but they can be uncomfortable. However, it’s 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 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 even have allergies that result in 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

This symptom may result from bacterial or sinus infections, which can affect parrots in several ways. Psittacosis, for example, is a common issue for parrots caused by the chlamydia psittaci bacterium. According to Infectious Disease Clinics, it’s commonly 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. For example:

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

Respiratory infections are also common in parrots. They 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 in parrots. However, you can minimize the odds of it developing. Try to:

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

If particles lift into the air, such as with parrot dust, they will be caught by the filters. If your parrot is from a tropical region, such as with macaws, find ways to provide it with humid air.

If there is 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 the 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 can become trapped in the airway and nose. A parrot’s reaction to this will be to sneeze, just like we would. If multiple sneezes fail to dislodge the object, it remains stuck in place.

This debris can irritate the nose and nasal passages. Aside from discomfort, this irritation can open the way for infectious agents. A build-up of dust can make clumps of sticky or dried mucus. Aside from dirt or seed husks, other factors that may irritate to the point of infection are:

Constant exposure can result in crusty nares and clogged nose holes. Minor irritants may simply result in excessive sneezing and the parrot rubbing its beak. There may even be a build-up of crust around the nostrils due to excessive sneezing.

  • If the object is large or has resulted in an infection, then discharge from the nose may appear.
  • Green-tinged or bloodied discharge are signs of infection, inflammation, or injury.
  • If the parrot’s nose is bleeding, then the object has caused trauma and injury.

The object may travel to the parrot’s airway or lungs, causing further damage or even restricting airflow. That will result in:

  • Coughing
  • Whistling breath
  • Difficulty breathing

Treatment and Prevention

It’s best to allow a vet to remove foreign objects from your parrot’s nose. 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.

After it’s removed, mediated treatments could follow. These will prevent infection and soothe any inflammation.

If you want to stop your parrot from getting foreign objects stuck in its nose, then keep its enclosure free of debris from:

  • Food
  • Feathers
  • Dander

Any of these items can be swept into the air and accidentally inhaled. You should also prevent the bird cage from getting overcrowded. The more parrot in the cage, the more dander and feathers will be shed.

Clogged Nose Holes

Birth defects are a reality in any animal, no matter how carefully breeders track lineage. At times, something just 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 from:

  • Infection
  • Injury
  • Trauma

That’s because parrot beaks are a combination of bone and keratin. Like our own 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. It could mean an overgrowth of keratin that blocks the nares, or it could mean weaker sections of the beak.

There are also conditions where the beak’s growth is defective. An example seen most commonly in parakeets is brown hypertrophy. As defined in Seminars in Avian and Exotic Pet Medicine, brown hypertrophy of the cere happens because of keratin build-up. This is usually caused by an excess of protein or estrogen. This overgrowth can continue until the nostrils are blocked completely.

Treatment and Prevention

A slight overgrowth of keratin may be resolved with ointment to soften the overgrowth. This allows the excess to be easily removed. Larger overgrowths, or those that block the nares, will require a vet and specialized tools to remove.

By and large, malformed beaks and nares will require specialized management and treatment. Your vet can examine your parrot and give suggestions.

Preventing beak deformities is hard. You can provide the ideal diet, enclosure, and make sure all of the parrot’s worldly needs are met. However, the problem may still arise, the bird may hurt itself, or its hormones may simply get out of control. The best approach is just to seek out a vet’s help once you notice a problem.

Parrot Has A Runny Nose

Parrots can have allergies, just like we do. Sneezing or nasal discharge in parrots are two symptoms that indicate the bird version of hayfever. 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
  • Even dust or aerosolized deodorant can trigger an allergy

Alongside plenty of sneezing and a runny nose, allergy symptoms in parrots include:

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

These can be symptoms of other maladies, too. It’s recommended to take your parrot to a vet for a complete diagnosis.

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment will depend on what’s triggering the allergy. You should 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 help the parrot recover, antihistamines and topical lotions or sprays may be prescribed to soothe the symptoms.

Preventing allergies will involve eliminating the allergen from the parrot’s life. This isn’t always possible with airborne particles, such as dust or pollen.

You can 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 units.

Parrot Nostrils Are Swollen And Inflamed

There are a large number of viral infections that 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. Instead, those symptoms will be paired with:

  • Loss in appetite
  • Tail bobbing
  • Difficulty breathing or noisy breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Ruffled feathers
  • Feather loss

There are 3 viral infections that may cause issues with a parrot’s nostrils. These include:

  • Avian influenza
  • Newcastle disease
  • Infectious bronchitis

These are all highly contagious. They will quickly spread from one bird to another without intervention. Even with treatment, a large number of these illnesses can be fatal.

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 a long-term adventure. The parrot may even need to remain at the vet clinic for a few days to undergo intensive treatment and monitoring.

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

To stop your parrot from catching a virus, stay up to date with vaccinations. It is also important to quarantine new birds for a month before introducing them to the flock.

Wet Nostrils in Parrots

Fungal infections can begin in (or spread to) the nose and airway. Aspergillosis and candida are two common fungal infections in parrots. They result in odd discharge from the nose.

Aspergillosis causes respiratory diseases in birds and should be treated seriously. Candida can spread further into the body, including the lungs, digestive tract, and beak.

The Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine notes that aspergillosis, in particular, is life-threatening. Any fungal infection present in the bird’s nose and airway should be treated with haste.

Treatment and Prevention

Fungal infections are usually quite 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.

This will only be one of many treatments, as fungal infections can be difficult to manage and require weeks of treatment. Treatments include:

  • Oral medication
  • Sprays
  • Ointments designed to kill fungus

Preventing fungal treatments often relies on giving the parrot a nutritionally-balanced diet. Just as importantly, it must live in a clean environment. Mold and fungus spores like to grow in warm, damp places. Your parrot’s cage is an ideal place for both.

Fungal and mold outbreaks can be tricky for those with tropical parrots to manage. You need humidity for the bird to live comfortably, and prevent nostril and respiratory problems. However, you also need to prevent fungus and mold from growing in that humid area. Regular cleaning, fresh air flow, and air filters can all be used to prevent mold and fungal outbreaks.

Parrots Nose Is Bleeding

Parasites are an issue for any pet owner. It’s not overly common, but mites can cause damage to your parrot’s nose. Swollen ceres and discharge from the nostrils are common symptoms of parasites.  

Scaly face mites are one of the few that directly impact a parrot’s beak and cere. These tiny mites burrow into the skin and eat the keratin making up the parrot’s beak and nose. They result in:

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

Other parasites, such as gapeworm (Syngamus trachea), infect the bird 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, even for a few moments, is all that parasites need 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. They may be in the form of:

  • Topical ointments
  • Sprays
  • Injections
  • Oral medications

During treatment, you’ll need to sanitize the bird cage to prevent reinfection. Keeping up to date with worming is the main approach to stop parasites. You should also quarantine new birds and treat them for parasites.

parrot has crusty nare

Soft Or Rubbery Parrot Beak

Proper nutrition is vital for parrots. A bird lacking in nutrients will see 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 also helps with the absorption of calcium and bone health.

Soft and weak beaks, also called rubber beaks, can result from vitamin deficiency. In the worst cases, they may even cause abnormal growth of the beak.

Treatment and Prevention

Every parrot species has its own unique dietary requirements. Depending on your parrot’s breed, it may need:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Insects

No food product labeled as a complete diet should actually be the parrot’s sole food source. Instead, give your parrot a variety of high-quality foods 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. This will increase its UVB time.

In dire cases, your vet may recommend supplements to rapidly boost nutrition. Otherwise, treating and preventing nutritional deficiencies means giving the parrot a balanced diet.

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 in your parrot include:

  • Tumorous growths
  • Discoloration of the beak

As we all know, cancer often has fatal consequences. Getting your parrot to the vet as soon as you notice something wrong is key.

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.

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

For the most part, regular cleaning and maintenance of the cage will prevent many nostril problems in parrots. Unusual amounts of sneezing, crusty nares, or colored discharge from the nose are all signs that something is wrong.