Considering how much time budgies spend indoors, it is surprising how sickly they can be. And if you don’t know what to look out for, your bird can suffer for a long time or even die before you notice something is wrong. To avoid this, today we are going to talk about the most common budgie diseases, how to know if your budgie is sick, and the type of nursing care to provide under such circumstances.
By the time you reach the end of this article, you will understand your budgie’s health more deeply and hopefully no longer struggle with anxiety over their health.
What are common illnesses in budgies?
Some of the most common budgie illnesses include:
Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY) infection
This highly contagious disease is annoyingly asymptomatic in its early stages. Its major symptom is weight loss in the budgie. Since this disease affects digestion, it may also cause the presence of food particles in droppings and vomiting of food and mucus. At a glance, it may seem like your bird is eating its usual portion but still losing weight.
Caused by yeast, this disease can be spread by contact with infected food or droppings. It is usually treated by administering drugs and implementing a healthier diet. In many cases, the vet usually recommends the removal of all yeast-feeding sugary foods from the diet.
If your budgie experiences salt poisoning or has too much protein/calcium in their diet, their kidneys can get damaged, resulting in avian gout. This disease usually causes diarrhea, swollen toes, and a puffed-up look. Depending on what caused the kidney damage, the vet can either prescription drugs or change in diet/routines.
Goiter/ Iodine Deficiency
Iodine deficiency makes your budgie’s neck swell and interferes with his voice and breathing. This condition also causes lethargy, regurgitation, and heart failure. In budgies, it commonly occurs as a result of an only-seed diet. This is because seeds don’t provide enough iodine for the proper operation of the thyroid glands. As a result, the gland swells in an attempt to get as much as it can from the seeds.
To treat this disease, your vet may prescribe iodine supplements, administer sodium iodine injections, or formulate an appropriate diet.
Sadly, budgies are highly susceptible to cancerous tumors, particularly in the kidneys and reproductive organs. Older budgies are particularly susceptible to kidney, ovarian, and testicular cancers that make them lame on one side – a symptom of many mistakes for a leg injury. Other symptoms may include weight loss and shortness of breath.
Once your vet diagnoses your budgie with cancer, they usually administer lupin in an attempt to shrink the tumor and prolong the bird’s life.
Caused by the organism Chlamydophia psittaci, psittacosis is very common among budgies. In fact, estimates suggest that up to 1% of wild birds and 30% of pet budgies have this disease. Fortunately, most of these are carriers and show no symptoms of the disease – they just pass it on through their saliva and droppings.
As such, maintaining a clean cage is integral to preventing the spread of this disease, especially since it can be transmitted to humans as well. A budgie ill from this disease usually has breathing problems and produces loose green droppings. Such a bird must be isolated, monitored, and its cage disinfected. Your vet may prescribe some drugs or in some cases mercy killing.
This yeast infection is caused by a small organism called Candida. It can grow anywhere in a budgie’s digestive system from the crop downwards. Its symptoms include loose droppings, vomiting, shaking fits, and loss of balance. Once diagnosed, this disease is usually cured by the administration of drugs and the elimination of yeast-feeding sugars from the diet. If all goes well, your budgie should be cured within a week of starting the treatment regimen.
Budgie Sour Crop
This is yet another yeast-related disease. As its name suggests, it affects your budgie’s crop – it makes it swell and results in foul-smelling vomit. Fortunately, treating it isn’t complicated – your vet will prescribe drugs that will target the infection.
Like humans, budgies also experience bouts of sneezing or coughing, usually linked to a cold or another viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. This is usually accompanied by a running nose, noisy breathing, panting, and shortness of breath. In some cases, you may even notice your budgie grip its cage sides with its feet/beak and try to stretch its neck so that it can breathe better.
Immediately you notice such symptoms, you should take your budgie to the vet. While human colds can go away on their own after a few days, budgies’ ones don’t.
When these mites infect budgies, they make scales build upon their beak and feet. If left untreated, this can lead to permanent deformities. So if you notice that your budgie suddenly has a scaly beak or feet, you should immediately take them to the vet. There they will undergo a checkup to determine the root cause of the condition and maybe be put on antiparasitic drug-like ivermectin.
Budgerigar Fledgling Disease
Caused by the Psittacine polyomavirus virus, this disease kills budgie chicks before fledging. While it doesn’t affect adult birds, they are suspected to be carriers. Interestingly, a milder form of this virus results in a condition called French molt.
How do I know if my budgie has a disease?
If it’s your first time owning a budgie, we understand that it can be especially difficult to keep up with your bird’s health. So to simplify things, here are the most common signs that your budgie is sick:
- Changing in eating habits – eating less or eating more
- Sleeping more/less than usual
- Watery nose and eyes
- Watery droppings
- Fluffed up, ratty, or reduced feathers
- Changes in water intake -drinking more/less
- Overgrown beak
- Sudden loss or gain of weight
- Listlessness or inactivity
- Irritability, aggression, and biting
- Unexplained tame behavior
- Change in attitude and personality
- Red, cloudy, closed, or swollen eye
- Labored breathing
- Prolonged tail bobbing
- Coughing, sneezing, and wheezing
- Changes in the appearance of the cere
- Loss or change in voice
- Cuts and bruises
- Loss of balance
- Falling and seizures
- Tilting of the head
- Drooping wings
Nursing Care for Sick Budgies
Since budgies usually hide any signs of illnesses, a disease may be quite advanced by the time you notice anything. That’s why you should take them to an avian vet immediately if you notice a change. However, things don’t end there – you will still have to nurse your budgie back to health. Here are some nursing tips:
Reduce stressors and make the home conducive for rest
Keep your bird in a room away from children, other animals, and irritants like cigarette smoke. If they share a cage with another bird, consider separating them, especially when dealing with a contagious disease.
Properly administer the prescribed drugs
Ensure that you administer the prescribed drugs the way that the vet instructed you to. Whether that means using a syringe or mixing the drugs with the budgie’s food/water, do it properly every day – your bird’s health depends on it.
Feed the bird well and keep temperatures optimal
For fast recovery, follow your vet’s feeding instructions to the letter and maintain temperatures at between 85 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.