Parrots’ droppings have 3 core components: feces, uric acid, and urine. The waste should comprise chalky, off-white urates, green-brown feces, and a small quantity of urine.
The average parrot poops 15-50 times per day (smaller species, like parakeets, poop most), with urine released simultaneously. A parrot may have polyuria if it poops excessively with a watery consistency.
Polyuria is often a symptom of another underlying health concern. This could be an easy-to-resolve problem, like excessive water intake, an inappropriate diet, or bacterial infection due to poor husbandry.
If other symptoms manifest, a pet bird could have diabetes mellitus, gastrointestinal tract disease, or liver problems. Unfortunately, kidney disorders (low waste filtration) adversely affect liver function.
Chronic polyuria requires more extensive diagnostic testing and advanced treatment by a veterinarian.
What Is Polyuria in Parrots?
Polyuria is an increase in the percentage of urine in parrots’ droppings.
Some owners confuse polyuria with diarrhea because parrots release urine and feces at the same time. Polyuria is characterized by solid waste surrounded by more white, milky urine than normal.
A parrot with polyuria may not necessarily pee more often, although this is also a common symptom. The concern is related to the quantity of urine released.
Consider the parrot’s urine content relative to its fecal output. A healthy elimination will produce a small piece of feces, some liquid, and squidgy, semi-solid urates passed through the kidneys.
If the urine is primarily liquid, a parrot likely has polyuria.
How To Treat Polyuria in Parrots
Seek veterinary assistance if a parrot has polyuria and other medical symptoms. A parrot may require intravenous fluids, medical treatment, and diet and lifestyle modifications.
Here are the most common reasons for excessive urination in parrots:
Excessive Water Intake
Polyuria is often caused by polydipsia, an excessive intake of water.
This may be due to the parrot hydrating to excess, or it could result from consuming excessive fruit or vegetables. These foods have a higher-than-average water content.
Avian Pathology explains how polydipsia can be remedied by limiting access to water. However, it’s safer to determine if reducing the amount of water-rich food resolves the problem.
Depriving a parrot of water is inadvisable because some species won’t survive for more than 24 hours. Instead, decrease the percentage of fruits and vegetables relative to pellets.
When a parrot is stressed, its internal organs will be overwhelmed and compromised.
Stress increases tension in the cloaca, the cavity from which a parrot releases urine and feces, increasing the need to urinate. Stress can also cause constipation, meaning that reactions can be different.
Consider what may be stressing a parrot. Common causes of stress include the following:
- Lack of reliable routine.
- Excessive time alone.
- Unfamiliar objects.
- Wrong temperature.
- Excessive noise.
- Threats and predators.
- Lack of sleep.
Do your utmost to keep parrots calm and minimize exposure to stress triggers.
Polyuria could be linked to excessive protein or calcium in a parrot’s diet. Too much protein, common in seed-based diets, leads to elevated uric acid levels.
Excessive calcium binds to the kidneys, eventually causing metastatic mineralization.
Hormonal changes can also be linked to polyuria in parrots.
This is likeliest in female parrots at the onset of spring because longer days and shorter nights encourage breeding behavior in birds. However, male parrots can also experience hormonal shifts.
Signs that a parrot’s hormones are elevated include:
- Verbalizing to excess, most notably screaming for attention.
- Demonstrating sexual behavior during petting, such as vent rubbing.
- Strutting and demonstrating their plumage.
- Biting when approached – a sign of sexual frustration.
- Plucking feathers on the chest and between the legs.
- Regurgitating food, as though sharing with young.
- Crouching and panting.
- Building a nest while getting territorial if you approach.
Avoid physical contact when a parrot wants to breed. Also, reduce fat in the parrot’s diet, and increase darkness by covering the parrot’s cage (light stimulates hormones).
Parrots can get intestinal parasites. While roundworms and tapeworms are more commonly associated with diarrhea in birds, they can lead to polyuria.
Parasites can be a problem for captive birds, meaning that parrots should be wormed every 6 months.
Polyuria could be due to toxicity from ingestion or inhalation.
Clinical Insights warns how heavy metals, especially lead or zinc, are causes of avian toxicity. Beware of certain paints, metallic toys, and household decor.
Toxicity can also be due to food, so keep the following away from parrots:
- Raw beans.
- Seeds of fruits that contain cyanide, such as apples, peaches, and apricots.
- Onions and garlic.
Be mindful of foods high in sodium. While not outright toxic, excessively salty foods can cause an imbalance in electrolytes in the body, elevating the risk of polydipsia.
A vet will use an intravenous drip to flush toxins from the parrot’s body.
Illness And Disease
Polyuria can be a symptom of another medical concern, including the following:
Parrots inevitably come into contact with bacteria, especially when they live with other birds. Sometimes their food and water bowls are contaminated by waste and decaying food.
Bacteria may live harmlessly in the intestinal tract. However, bacteria can overwhelm the body if a parrot’s immune system isn’t functioning well, perhaps due to stress, sickness, or elevated hormones.
This will be reflected in the parrot’s waste. Antibiotics will be required if the parrot has become lethargic, is eating less and losing weight, or is experiencing digestive distress.
A bird’s cage should be spot-cleaned daily and deep-cleaned weekly. Avoid leaving temperature-sensitive foods, like fruit and vegetables, in the cage after a bird has eaten.
A diabetic parrot has an unquenchable thirst, no matter how much it drinks, which manifests as polyuria.
Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology explain that birds have higher blood sugar levels than mammals. Unfortunately, this means that parrots are likelier to develop diabetes.
Diabetes is most common in obese parrots, so monitor the bird’s weight. Other warning signs include lethargy and depression, muscular weakness, and unexplained weight fluctuations.
According to Veterinary Clinics: Exotic Animal Practice, polyuria is sometimes due to renal failure. If the kidneys fail to filter a bird’s urine, it’ll produce a thick sludge. This adversely affects the liver.
The treatment for polyuria is centered around the cause. Many cases can be resolved with dietary modifications, like increasing the percentage of pellets relative to fruit and vegetables or supplements.
A parrot with a bacterial infection will need antibiotics and improved cage husbandry. However, a bird with kidney problems may need intravenous fluids, medication, hospitalization, and ongoing care.