5 Things Bird Owners Need To Know About Giardiasis

Posted on: 6 November 2015


Pet birds can suffer from a wide variety of health problems, some of them serious. One serious condition that your bird may suffer is giardiasis, an infestation caused by gastrointestinal parasites. Here are five things you need to know about this serious condition. 

What causes giardiasis?

Giardiasis is caused by giardia, a type of parasite that lives in the intestines of many different animals. The parasite is passed in the feces of infected animals. Healthy animals get sick when they consume water or food that has come into contact with the infected feces.

What are the symptoms?

If your bird has giardiasis, you will notice that they are making more noise than normal and are pulling out their feathers. You will also notice that their feces looks different; the feces of infected birds tends to look quite large, like popcorn. If you notice these signs, take your bird to an exotics vet immediately. Untreated, this parasite can cause quality of life problems like poor digestion or loose jaw muscles.

How do vets treat birds with giardiasis?

The main treatment for giardiasis is a 14 day course of metronidazole, a type of antiprotozoal medication. This medication needs to be given orally, which can be difficult if your bird is uncooperative. You may need to have a second person hold your bird while you use a syringe to feed them the medication. 

How can you prevent re-infection?

To keep your bird from becoming re-infected after their treatment, it's very important that you thoroughly clean their cage to remove all traces of giardia. Everything needs to be removed from the cage, including cage liners and toys. Once the cage is empty, scrub it with soapy water and rinse it thoroughly. To ensure that the cage is clean, wipe the entire cage, including the bars, with a disinfectant like bleach. Don't forget to disinfect toys and other accessories before putting them back in the cage. 

Can you catch giardiasis from your bird?

People can also get giardiasis, so you need to be very careful when handling your sick bird. After caring for your sick pet, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly. If you forget to wash your hands, and then touch your mouth or prepare food, you could get sick. In humans, giardiasis can cause diarrhea for as long as six weeks, so you definitely don't want to catch it!

For more information, contact Bayside Veterinary Hospital or a similar location.