Your cockatiel can't catch a cold from you but if your cold leads to a secondary bacterial infection, you can spread it to your pet bird. Take precautions to keep your cockatiel healthy when you're sick and learn the signs that indicate your bird may have a respiratory infection.
Your coughing and sneezing won't make your bird sick. But sometimes a human whose immune system is weakened by a cold develops a bacterial infection after the cold. Symptoms such as congestion, a sore throat or the flu can be spread to your cockatiel. While you are ill, keep contact with your bird to a minimum. Wash your hands before and after cleaning the cage or handling feed dishes. Avoid coughing or sneezing near the bird cage. Don't touch your bird until you've recovered.
Cockatiels can develop respiratory illnesses on their own or through contact with a human who is sick. Cockatiels are susceptible to Mycoplasma or Chlamydophila -- avian respiratory infections frequently found in parakeets and cockatiels. Symptoms can include watery eyes, sneezing or a change in your bird's voice. Some birds don't exhibit any symptoms but become tired or lethargic. Some sit with their eyes closed and their feathers fluffed up. An avian veterinarian can diagnose a bird with these infections, but early treatment is key.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Don't try to treat a sick cockatiel yourself. A bird who is sick can deteriorate quickly without veterinary care. Your vet will do a complete physical examination, take swabs to test for bacteria and perhaps perform a sinus culture. He may test the bird's blood or take an X-ray. Depending on the cause, your vet may prescribe antibiotic treatment or recommend dietary changes.
Keep your pet cockatiel healthy with a complete diet. A diet consisting of only bird seed is not sufficient to meet your cockatiel's needs and it will weaken his immune system. Your bird's daily diet should include fresh fruit and vegetables, along with any supplements recommended by your vet. Always wash your hands before working with your cockatiel or handling his cage. Ask a family member to care for your bird if you are sick.