Home » Parrot Nostril Problems Explained
parrots nose problems

Parrot Nostril Problems Explained

(Last Updated On: March 17, 2023)

Parrots can have problems with their nostrils (nares) that cause issues with their beaks and ceres. While not all these issues are life-threatening, they can make life difficult and uncomfortable.

Parrots’ nostril problems include nasal discharge, sinus infections, sneezing, clogged nose holes, and runny noses. Parrots may find their nares swollen, inflamed, wet, or bleeding.

Sometimes, the beak can become deformed, rubbery, or discolored due to infection, birth defects, trauma, and mites. Also, parrots can experience allergies that lead to sneezing and runny noses.

Too-dry air can irritate the nose and respiratory tract of parrots. Also, dust, mold, fungal spores, and foreign objects can become lodged or severely congest the nares.

Nasal Discharge And Sinus Infection in Parrots

These symptoms can be due to bacterial and sinus infections.

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

A bacterial infection may target a parrot’s nares and sinuses, and infection can even spread from the eyes to the nose and sinuses, causing:

  • Irritation.
  • Inflammation.
  • Sinus infections.

Often, infection occurs due to poor husbandry and environmental factors, such as:

  • Overly dry living environment.
  • Parrot dust.
  • A small or dirty cage.

As the infection progresses, these can lead to issues with the beak and nostrils.

Treatment and Prevention

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

Long-term cleaning may be required, so the vet will show 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:

  • Keeping a regular cleaning schedule for the cage.
  • Install air filters in the parrot’s room.
  • Remove any leftover food before it turns bad.
  • Clean drying feces before it becomes airborne.

If particles lift into the air, such as parrot dust, they’ll be caught by the filters.

If no fresh air enters the home, such as during winter or summer, air-conditioners and heaters will frequently be used. You can add a humidifier to increase the moisture level.

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

nasal discharge in parrots

Parrot Sneezing with Nostrils Blocked

Sneezing with blocked nostrils is caused by foreign bodies, like feathers, seed husks, and dirt.

These foreign bodies become trapped in the airways and nose, so the parrot’s reaction will be to sneeze. If sneezes fail to dislodge the object, it’ll remain in place, irritating the nasal passages.

A dust or sticky food waste build-up can lead to dried mucus clumps.

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

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

A 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, regardless of how carefully breeders track its lineage. At times, something goes wrong during the bird’s development.

Choanal atresia 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 made of bone and keratin. Damage to the beak and 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 removed.

Larger overgrowths, or those that block the nares, require specialized removal tools. Malformed beaks and nares will need specialized treatment from an avian veterinarian.

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 disorders, so veterinary diagnosis is essential.

Treatment and Prevention

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

There may be some trial and error if a type of food is suspect. Antihistamines and topical lotions or sprays may be prescribed to enable the parrot to recover.

Preventing allergies involves eliminating the allergen. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible due to airborne particles like dust or pollen.

Limit the parrot’s exposure by maintaining a clean home and enclosure. Air filters and cleaning the filters of air conditioning units can sometimes resolve the problem.

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 the following:

  • 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 spread quickly.

Treatment and Prevention

The parrot may need to remain at the veterinary clinic to undergo intensive treatment and monitoring. Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for Newcastle disease.

To prevent a 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 that cause discharge from the nares.

Aspergillosis causes respiratory diseases in birds, and candida can spread to different body parts, including the airways, digestive tract, and beak.

The Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine notes that aspergillosis is life-threatening. So, a fungal infection of the parrot’s nares and airways should be treated promptly.

Treatment and Prevention

Fungal infections are contagious, so afflicted parrots should be isolated from others. 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. It must also live in a clean environment as mold and fungus spores grow in warm, damp places.

The parrot needs humidity to live comfortably and prevent respiratory problems. However, preventing fungus and mold from growing in humid areas is essential.

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

Parrot’s Nose Is Bleeding

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 beak and nare, resulting in:

  • Holes in the beak.
  • Lumps as the keratin grow back over the damage.

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

A 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, being transferred through shed feathers and droppings.

Treatment and Prevention

Targeted or general anti-parasitics will be prescribed. During treatment, you must 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 arise. A lack of Vitamin A and D 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.

Sometimes, they can cause abnormal beak growth, like scissor beak in parrots.

Treatment and Prevention

No food product labeled as a complete diet should be the parrot’s sole food source. Instead, give the 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 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 chemotherapy is used to reduce the development of malignant growths.