Why is My Cockatiel Sneezing? Exploring the Main Causes

Why is my cockatiel sneezing? This is a common question many cockatiel owners ask when they notice their pet repeatedly sneezing. An occasional sneeze alone typically isn’t cause for concern. However, ongoing or frequent sneezing may indicate an underlying health issue affecting your cockatiel. The good news is sneezing often stems from minor irritations that can easily be addressed. 

This article will explore the most typical causes of sneezing in cockatiels. You’ll learn about issues like allergies, infections and parasites that commonly provoke sneezing in these popular pets. Tips for diagnosis, treatment and prevention are also provided.

why is my cockatiel sneezing

Why is My Cockatiel Sneezing?

There are 3 main reasons to explain why your cockatiel sneezes. These include allergies and irritants, respiratory infections and parasites. Let us show you the details below.

Allergies and Irritants

Just like people, birds can experience allergies to dust, dander, pollens or other particles in their environment. Cockatiels are especially vulnerable since their respiratory systems are more delicate than other pets. Things like fresh paint fumes, strongly scented candles or air fresheners, non-toxic cleaners and certain bedding materials may cause irritation. Dust is a major problem as feather dust naturally shed by birds gets stirred into the air. So, owners should clean the cage carefully to reduce sneezing from these triggers.

Respiratory Infections

Bacteria or viruses can cause upper respiratory infections in cockatiels, leading to sneezing, nasal discharge and other cold-like symptoms. The most common cause is psittacosis or parrot fever, which is highly contagious to other birds. Untreated infections may develop into more serious illnesses like sinusitis. Proper sanitation, quarantine of new birds and limiting visitors are key to prevention.


Cockatiels are susceptible to parasites that can infest the nasal passages and lungs. Mites like scaly-face and worms including air sac mites cause sneezing as the bird’s immune system responds to the infestation. Catching parasites early before they spread to other areas of the body is important for treatment.

why is my cockatiel sneezing

Signs of Illness When Cockatiel Sneezes

If your cockatiel sometimes sneezes, it’s normal. However, there are some other signs of cockatiel’s illness that owners should watch for:

  • Increased sneezing: If sneezing seems excessive or frequent rather than isolated occurrences.
  • Nasal discharge: Mucus or fluid coming from the nares (nose holes) could signal infection.
  • Ruffled feathers: Sick birds may puff up their feathers and appear shabby.
  • Lethargy: Illness often makes cockatiels less active than usual and less interested in their surroundings.
  • Loss of appetite: Sneezing birds may not feel like eating if something is irritating their respiratory system.

When Cockatiel Need to See an Avian Veterinarian

Most mild sneezing from minor irritants will subside on its own with no treatment required. However, owners should consider taking their cockatiel to an avian vet if:

  • Sneezing lasts for over a week without improving. Lingering or worsening sneezes point to an underlying issue.
  • Other symptoms are present besides sneezing such as nasal discharge, breathing difficulties or weight loss.
  • The cockatiel appears visibly sick and lethargic rather than their normal cheerful self. Debilitating illness requires medical intervention.
  • There is a possibility the bird has been exposed to another sick bird or unknown infection risks. it’s best to get sneezing checked out in these situations.

Tips to Prevent Cockatiel from Sneezing

With guidance from their avian veterinarian, owners can help care for a sneezing cockatiel. Treatment depends on the identified cause but may include:

  • Clean cage environment: Sanitize cage components, perches and toys weekly to remove dust, dander and debris.
  • Dust removal from home & cage: Use a good quality air filter and ventilate well during cleaning. Bag up or remove bulky seed containers.
  • Proper nutrition and hydration: Make sure diet and fresh water are consistently provided to boost immunity.
  • Antibiotic treatment: Prescription meds may clear up a bacterial infection causing sneezes.
  • Deworming medication: Vet can diagnose and treat parasites sneezing may signal.
  • Vaccinations: Protect against preventable virus diseases cockatiels are susceptible to.
  • Quarantine new birds: Isolate introductions to established flocks for 30 days minimum.
  • Limit visitors: Do not expose pet stores or wild-bird fed cockatiels to outside exposure risks.

Following basic preventive care recommendations and being attentive to potential issues can help cockatiels avoid sneezing from illness. Prompt vet checkups as needed ensure sneezes don’t escalate to chronic or serious conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is my bird suddenly sneezing?

There are 3 potential reasons your bird may suddenly start sneezing:

  • Allergies and irritants: Dust, pollen, smoke or strong fumes could be irritating your bird’s respiratory tract and causing sneezing.
  • Respiratory infection: Viruses like those that cause colds in humans can infect birds and cause sneezing symptoms.
  • Parasites: Some birds sneeze when they have nasal mites or worms that are irritating the nasal passages.

If sneezing is accompanied by other symptoms like nasal discharge, lethargy or loss of appetite, it’s best to contact an avian veterinarian for examination. Often, sudden sneezing will subside on its own without treatment.

2. Should I be concerned if my bird is sneezing?

An occasional sneeze from a bird is generally nothing to be overly concerned about. Birds sneeze just like humans when particles or irritants trigger their nasal passages. However, if sneezing is frequent or persistent, it’s worth paying attention to. Frequent sneezing that lasts more than a week could indicate an underlying health issue like an infection or allergies.

3. How do you treat a sneezing cockatiel?

The treatment for a sneezing cockatiel depends on the underlying cause. Some initial steps owners can take include:

  • Isolating the bird to reduce exposure to potential irritants/infections.
  • Thoroughly cleaning the cage and surrounding area to remove dust and dander.
  • Consulting an avian vet for an examination. Tests may reveal infections, parasites, etc.
  • Starting antibiotic/antifungal medication if a bacterial or fungal infection is diagnosed.
  • Deworming medication if parasites are found in the nasal cavity or lungs.
  • Steam treatment or saline rinses can help clear nasal passages.
  • Providing hydration and nutritious diet to support recovery.
  • In some cases anti-inflammatory medication may help.

Follow all vet instructions carefully. Response to treatment indicates the cause. Persistent sneezing may require further diagnostics. Proper treatment and monitoring sneezing patterns are important for the cockatiel’s health.

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