Caring for Sick Lovebirds

Updated on June 24, 2019
SakinaNasir53 profile image

Sakina loves birds. She had two IRN parrots and two budgies. Now she has two lovebirds, one of which is a peach-faced male she hand-raised.

Is Your Lovebird Sick?

Lovebirds are prey birds, so their instincts may cause them to hide illnesses. However, these signs may indicate that your lovebird is unwell:

  • Fatigue
  • Dull eyes
  • Sitting (at the bottom of the cage, or in one position over a long period of time)
  • Sleeping with its head tucked under a wing for a long time
  • Inactivity
  • Aggressive or withdrawn behavior
  • Labored breathing (discussed under "Respiratory Problems in Lovebirds")
  • Continuously fluffed up feathers
  • Tail bobbing (moving up and down)
  • Sneezing
  • Difficulty flying
  • Appetite loss
  • Fever
  • Discharge from the nasal area
  • Flaky beak
  • Increased anxiety

My lovebird, Lulu, was sleeping a lot as she was really sick.
My lovebird, Lulu, was sleeping a lot as she was really sick. | Source

My Lovebird, Lulu

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This picture of Lulu was taken before she got sick.This picture shows the fluffed up feathers of my lovebird, Lulu. She was not well.
This picture of Lulu was taken before she got sick.
This picture of Lulu was taken before she got sick. | Source
This picture shows the fluffed up feathers of my lovebird, Lulu. She was not well.
This picture shows the fluffed up feathers of my lovebird, Lulu. She was not well. | Source

Respiratory Problems in Lovebirds

Respiratory problems are common in small birds. I had noticed the symptoms mentioned below in my lovebird, Lulu. There may be other symptoms as well. If you notice these symptoms or any unusual behavior in your lovebird, please take them to the vet immediately:

  • Labored breathing (difficulty in breathing, accompanied by tail bobbing)
  • Panting after flying/exercise
  • Breathing with an open beak
  • Sneezing
  • Sneezing while flying
  • Puffed up feathers for a long time
  • Fever (warm body and beak)

Lulu's Tail Bobbing While Breathing

Laboured Breathing in My Lovebird, Lulu

Steps to Care for Sick Lovebirds (at Home)

I live in an area where vets are not unavailable. Before taking Lulu to a vet and before even fully knowing she was sick, I decided to help her at home. If you do not have access to a vet or must wait for an appointment, the following steps can be taken in the interim:

  • Keep your bird warm by covering their cage/putting a heating pad under it.
  • Place the cage in a dark room so your pet can get rest.
  • Avoid making loud noises—these can disturb them.
  • Make sure their food and water are easily reachable.
  • Monitor their feeding pattern.
  • Clean their cage daily to help remove bacteria.
  • Move their cage into sunlight (not direct) and fresh air for at least 10-15 minutes per day.
  • Crush a boiled chicken egg into tiny pieces and feed them. This ensures they receive a good bundle of calcium and other vital nutrients.
  • Talk calmly to them. Tell them that they will feel better and say you love them (it helps). Our pets understand us and vice-versa.

Lulu's Condition Worsened . . .

I had hope that after taking many steps to ensure Lulu's safety, she would get better. But I was wrong . . . her labored breathing soon changed to open-mouthed breathing and was also accompanied by sneezing.

Sneezing in Lovebird Lulu

Taking Lulu to the Vet

I had begun to go nuts. Lulu's illness was killing me. I decided to take her to the vet, as I couldn't wait around hoping she would get better. If you think your lovebird may be ill, you should contact a vet immediately.

Here's what the vet advised:

  • He asked me to ensure the cage was getting fresh air for long periods of time.
  • He prescribed an antibiotic for Lulu (to be injected in her mouth).
  • He also gave me multivitamins (to be added to the water bowl).

He was sure that Lulu would be alright after the antibiotics were administered for 10 days.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This was the antibiotic the vet had prescribed for lovebird, Lulu.This was the multivitamin bottle the vet had prescribed for my lovebird, Lulu.
This was the antibiotic the vet had prescribed for lovebird, Lulu.
This was the antibiotic the vet had prescribed for lovebird, Lulu.
This was the multivitamin bottle the vet had prescribed for my lovebird, Lulu.
This was the multivitamin bottle the vet had prescribed for my lovebird, Lulu.

How to Hold Your Lovebird

My lovebird, Lulu, isn't hand-raised by me like my male lovebird, Mumu. She doesn't even allow me to touch her. Holding her and administering her antibiotic was a real challenge. Here's what I did and what you can do as well:

  • Do not be afraid of bites. Lulu isn't aggressive, I was really lucky in that matter.
  • It is best to hold and carry the lovebird while he/she is in the cage.
  • Put your bird inside the cage and try to corner them.
  • Then, gently stroke the head. Your lovebird might try to bite you. If they do so, let them. They will either bite your fingers or nibble them. After they feel your fingers aren't a "threat", the lovebird will relax a bit.
  • Once he/she is relaxed, gently cup your hand around the lovebird's back so that your thumb and index finger are touching their feet. Once this is done, gently close your thumb and index finger under their feet.
  • While their back is cupped in your hand, your thumb and index finger must be lifting the lovebird from their feet.
  • Your bird will be now in your grasp. Please make sure you are holding them gently.

Holding your bird isn't easy. It will take at least a dozen tries to finally grasp them. Be gentle. If you feel your lovebird is terrified, leave them alone for some time and try again when he/she is relaxed.

This is me holding Mumu. If you want to administer medicine to your bird, you can hold them this way and tilt their head up.
This is me holding Mumu. If you want to administer medicine to your bird, you can hold them this way and tilt their head up. | Source

Administering the Antibiotic to Lulu

The vet had asked me to add the prescribed amount of antibiotic in the water bowl. However, Lulu wasn't ready to drink from it due to its dark yellow color and odor. So, I decided to hold her and administer the antibiotic.

How to administer an antibiotic to a lovebird:

  • Once your bird is in your grasp (as mentioned above), gently open their beak and put the tip of the injection inside it. Make sure the face of your bird has been tilted above.
  • Your bird might try to squirm in your grasp or push the injection aside. Whatever they do, keep your grip gentle.
  • Once the injection is inside their beak, inject the medicine slowly. The bird might try to squirm and reject the medicine, but keep trying. If you can't hold and administer the medicine at the same time, ask a family member to help you.
  • Once the medicine is administered, release the bird in a safe area. Move away from them as soon as they are released. The bird will take his/her time to become normal (Lulu used to be shocked after each administration).

Your lovebird might squirm in your grasp. Make sure you are handling them gently at all times. DO NOT tighten your hold over them. If the squirming grows worse, RELEASE the bird immediately. You can try administering the medicine later on.

Recovery

Gradually, the medicine showed its effects on Lulu. She started eating on her own (which was a really good sign). She wasn't sleeping all the time, and she grew active day by day. She did take rest, yes, but I could see the difference in her health. After ten days, everything was okay. Lulu was okay, and I was relieved.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My lovebird, Lulu's feathers aren't as fluffed up as before.Lulu had started eating on her own, which was a good sign.My male lovebird, Mumu was very supportive during this tough time.
My lovebird, Lulu's feathers aren't as fluffed up as before.
My lovebird, Lulu's feathers aren't as fluffed up as before. | Source
Lulu had started eating on her own, which was a good sign.
Lulu had started eating on her own, which was a good sign. | Source
My male lovebird, Mumu was very supportive during this tough time.
My male lovebird, Mumu was very supportive during this tough time. | Source

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

  • My bird is looking smaller than usual. Is this bad?

    Has he/she losing feathers? Do you see any weakness, nasal discharge, sneezing or tail bobbing? Any sign of sickness? Sometimes, birds look small when they're asleep.

  • My lovebird is sleeping a lot and doesn't balance herself while sleeping. What should I do for her?

    Please give your lovebird multivitamins. If this has been going on for a while, maybe it would be wise to consult your vet.

  • My baby lovebird is weak and is bobbing her head. What should I do?

    Give her healthy food like corn, apple bits, banana and spinach leaves. Give her multivitamins.

  • My baby Love Bird is making a clicking sound, should I be worried?

    No, clicking sounds just mean he's rolling the tongue (it's a sign of contentment and a process birds do before they fall asleep). Nothing to worry about.

  • My baby budgie is two months old. She has a fever. What should I feed her?

    Please give her nutritious food like fresh fruits (without seeds), boiled green leaves like spinach and crushed egg shells. Keep her warm and make sure food and water are easily accessible.

© 2018 Sakina Nasir

Comments

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    • SakinaNasir53 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sakina Nasir 

      11 months ago from Kuwait

      @Eman, I'm sorry for your loss and I understand. I have lost many pets too, I know the feeling.

    • Emmy ali profile image

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      11 months ago from Egypt

      I owned a pair of birds but they died and I did not repeat the experience again, but my brother and my uncle have birds as pets.

    • SakinaNasir53 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sakina Nasir 

      11 months ago from Kuwait

      @Eman Hi! Thank you. :) Do you have lovebirds as pets?

    • Emmy ali profile image

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      11 months ago from Egypt

      Thank you for this useful article.

    • SakinaNasir53 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sakina Nasir 

      11 months ago from Kuwait

      @Louise Powels Hi! :) Thank you so much! Lulu has been in a good health since months, alhamdolillah (it means thank God in Arabic).

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      11 months ago from Norfolk, England

      Aww, Lulu is so cute. This is a very useful article to read about how to care for your sick bird. I hope Lulu will be back to 100% health very soon!

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