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Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania are finding that pet owners with serious health conditions have a higher percentage of survival than those who don’t own pets. In a similar study conducted by Patricia Anderson, an associate professor of Anthropology from the University of Chicago, parakeet owners believe that bird-owning improves their lives. Since these birds live only for five to eight years, it’s important that owners keep their pets healthy.
Knemidokoptes mites are often the culprits of flaky skin. When they infect your parakeet, it develops a white crust around its cere, legs, vents, eyelids or other skin areas. According to Dr. Margaret Wissman, an avian specialist, Knemidokoptes mites can cause lesions, abrasions, or worse, cause the bird’s beak to deform. Parakeets are treated with an oral medication of ivermectin.
Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease
Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) is a viral infection that destroys a bird’s immune system and damages beak and feather cells. According to Dr. Holly Nash, a veterinarian from Doctors Foster & Smith, Inc, this highly contagious disease is spread through droppings and feather dusts that contaminate the cage, food and water. If infected while the bird is young, a parakeet will show signs of depression and weight loss. Feathers will become loose and break easily. Meanwhile, signs in older birds include bare skin due to loss of feathers and deformed and discolored feathers. Their beaks can become fractured or irregularly shaped. A green tint, as well as mucus, may also be present in their droppings.
Psittacosis, or parrot fever, is an avian disease caused by Chlamydophila psittaci, a bacterium which can be transmitted to humans. Early signs in birds include red, watery eyes, loss of appetite, nasal discharge and diarrhea. According to the Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department of Doctors Foster and Smith, a special treatment is needed and is administered by an avian veterinarian. Although full recovery is possible, the bird can still acquire the disease in the future as it can’t become immune.
A fat parakeet isn't a healthy parakeet. Obese parakeets are prone to having lipomas, or fatty tumors, that usually develop in the abdominal area. If your parakeet’s diet isn’t changed, obesity can cause serious and fatal diseases, such as cirrhosis and hepatitic lipidosis. Parakeets fed on seeds alone are prone to obesity. According to Dr. Wissman, the addition of pellets, whole wheat bread and fresh fruits in your parakeet’s diet can prevent this nutritional disorder from occurring.
Thyroid dysplasia, or goiter, is a disease that iodine-deficient parakeets suffer from. As a result, the parakeet experiences difficulty in breathing. The bird will also find it difficult to swallow when eating. According to Dr. Wissman, a poor diet, such as one consisting of only seeds, can increase your pet’s chance of acquiring this disease.