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This common disease can be found in pet birds and parrots, too.

By Margaret A. Wissman, DVM
Posted: October 24, 2012, 5:00 p.m. PST


Arthritis is a degenerative disease of the joints that can be a primary disease or secondary to defects or injury of the joints or supporting tissues. The most common form diagnosed in pet birds is osteoarthritis. Multiple joints are often affected, unless the disease is brought on by trauma. Pain accompanies this joint inflammatory disease.


This is typically an acquired disease with age but it can be brought on by an injury or if a tumor, either malignant or non-malignant, involves a joint. Infections such as mycoplasmosis can also result in arthritis in pet birds. Affected joints may be red, swollen or hot.


You should have your bird evaluated by an avian veterinarian who will want to perform tests to ascertain the cause of the joint problems. You may want to purchase braided rope perches or soft synthetic perches, and make sure that you have perches of several different diameters so feet don’t cramp up from always being in the same position on a perch.

Hyacinth macaw
By Gina Cioli/BowTie Inc./Courtesy Omar's Exotic Birds
The most common form of arthritis in pet birds is osteoarthritis.

Have your bird’s blood count, chemistry profile, kidney and liver checked out before getting a medication prescribed. In some cases, antibiotics or antifungal medications are indicated. There are choices of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) to give a bird for long-term arthritis relief; however, most of these medications are not labeled for use in birds. The old stand-by, aspirin, is actually a wonderful anti-inflammatory for birds; however, dosing is critical, so this must be prescribed by an avian veterinarian. Other NSAIDs can also prove useful in the long-term management of arthritis. Narcotics, such as codeine, and steroids are not commonly used for long-term treatment of birds because of potentially dangerous side effects. To keep your bird more comfortable when afflicted with arthritis, provide appropriate perches as well as flat corner perches. Do not let your bird get overweight, as it will bring added stress to already damaged joints. If your bird is already overweight, discuss a long-term diet and exercise plan for your bird with your avian veterinarian.

Disclaimer:’s Bird Health Index is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s health if you suspect your pet is sick. If your pet is showing signs of illness or you notice changes in your bird’s behavior, take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.

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