Skin & Feather Diseases in Birds
Skin Sores / Scaly Skin / Dry Skin / Itching Skin:
Several environmental and medical conditions can cause dry, itchy skin - such as Giardia or even Diabetes. When birds scratch themselves because of itching skin, the skin may become infected. The avian vet will at this point recommend a healing ointment, if needed.
Food allergies / sensitivities can cause irritated skin and this can lead to plucking or self-mutilation.
Relief Dry Skin:
Increase humidity: If the area is simply dry and scaly with no apparent infection (broken skin, redness, and seeping), the bird owner can try to keep the humidity up in their pet's area. Especially during winters, when homes are heated, the humidity may be low causing dry and itching skin in birds. Ideally, the temperature should be close to 50% - but when homes are heated, it is difficult to increase the humidity to as low as 30%.
The use of a humidifier can bring great relief. If no humidifier is available, you can increase the humidity in your home by:
- hanging up wet towels and throw rugs in the bird's area until dry - and then repeat.
- placing a bowl with water close to the heating system
- indoor plants hold water
- indoor water fountain
Aloe Vera: Additionally, provided your pet is comfortable with it, misting your pet with an Aloe spray (i.e., George's Aloe Vera Spray Mister) often brings a lot of relief for a bird suffering from itching skin.
Offer bathing opportunities: Daily misting / spraying pets lightly with warm water or offering a shallow bowl of water for them to bathe in will help keep the dander down in the indoor environment. One has to remember that in the confinement of our homes, pollutants will collect in much greater density than they ever would in the wild. Especially in small, poorly ventilated spaces pollutants - such as dander, dried droppings and skin/feather mites - can be a major issue, daily ventilation (opening windows and doors) is the best and cheapest way to get fresh air into your home. If that is not possible -- an air filtration system should be considered for those who are concerned about their pets as well as their own health.
- Benefits of and recommendations for providing birds with bathing opportunities (the correct / safe way)
You may also want to feed more foods with a high water content to your pet, such as juice fruits and high-moisture veggies; melons (including cantaloupe which has lots of beta carotene); as well as nuts and seeds - including ground flax seeds sprinkled on a pet bird's soft food daily (half a teaspoon for larger birds, less for smaller) to provide the essential fatty acids and oils that are beneficial to his or her skin.
More information on the following topics:
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