Margaret A. Wissman, DVM
Posted: August 26, 2013, 3:00 p.m. PDT
Ground feeders, such as poultry, are more susceptible to roundworms, but it should be realized that pet parrots can also harbor worms. It is more difficult to diagnose worms in birds because the typical fecal flotation examination used to identify worms in other animals is not as effective in birds.
Roundworms can directly infest birds, unlike the process it takes for mammals, such as cats and dogs, which can only be infested if they ingest the worms in their larval state by ingesting a rodent, lizard, insect or other infested organism. Pet birds can become infested if exposed to the droppings of wild or other infested birds whose droppings contaminate the pet bird’s food, cage or water.
Worms can cause obstruction and they compete for nutrients in a bird, which can lead to tissue damage, weight loss and diarrhea.
Birds found to have worms should be seen by an avian vet who will most likely administer a safe dewormer. There are several FDA approved deworming medications used on mammals that are proven to be safe for psttacines as well, however, some dewormers are harmful to birds. Your avian vet should be consulted to determine which treatment is optimal for your bird.
I recommend that all birds being seen by a vet for the first time be dewormed. She also said birds that have passed worms in their droppings should be periodically treated with dewormer for the remainder of their life. If you have questions about whether your bird has worms, parasitology labs have special stains and test that can be performed on droppings collected over several days to increase the chances of effectively diagnosing worms in birds.
Disclaimer: BirdChannel.com’s Bird Health section 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.