Like most pets, pigeons are vulnerable to many diseases. It is very important for bird owners to know about the symptoms of pigeon diseases in order to medicate or obtain medical care for their birds before a disease becomes fatal.
Trichomoniasis, which is also known as pigeon canker, is the most common of pigeon diseases. About 80 percent of wild and tame pigeons are infected with this disease. Adult pigeons commonly carry the organism without showing any signs of disease. The organism that causes canker will multiply profusely when a pigeon is stressed. Common stresses include parasitic infestations, overbreeding and other diseases. A mild canker infection can quickly turn into a serious illness. Symptoms of canker include listlessness, ruffled appearance of feathers, loss of appetite and weight loss. Canker lesions in a pigeon’s mouth make it difficult for them to close their mouths. This causes them to drool and swallow repeatedly. Other symptoms include diarrhea, breathing problems and increased drinking. A thin weak bird will lose the willingness to fly and may spend most of its time at the bottom of the coop. Pigeons that are canker carriers often transfer the disease to their young during feeding. Squabs that are less than 24 days old are the most vulnerable. The best ways to protect the brood from canker is to keep a sanitary coop and remove diseased birds at once. Antiprotozoal drugs were used successfully to treat canker, but have recently been removed from the market. Other drugs are in the experimental phase and can be administered by a veterinarian.
Coccidiosis is an extremely infectious and common disease produced by a protozoan that attacks the intestines of pigeons. All pigeons carry the disease, but well cared for adults will develop immunity to coccidiosis. Because of their age, young pigeons are usually infected because they have not developed immunity to the disease. Coccidiosis is usually caused by pigeons drinking unclean water or from coming in contact with contaminated moist droppings. Symptoms include loss of appetite, puffed up appearance, no desire to move and very loose droppings that are green in color. Coccidiosis prevention includes keeping the coop dry, regular sanitation, disinfect water bowls and do not allow feed to touch any droppings. Pigeons should not be allowed to drink from mud puddles or gutters and keep their feed and water away from rodents. New pigeons should be isolated from the flock for at least three weeks, to make sure they are healthy. Medication for coccidiosis can be purchased from a licensed veterinarian. If treated right away, coccidiosis is not one of the fatal pigeon diseases.
Feather lice and mites are the most common external disease to affect pigeons. These parasites are the least harmful of pigeon diseases, but they can cause damage to and around the feathers. The best defense against parasites is to keep the coop clean and not allowing new birds into the coop without at least three weeks of quarantine. Some pigeon owners regularly dust their birds with a pesticide made for that purpose. Parasite dusting powder can be purchased online or at a veterinarian’s office.
- Always quarantine a new pigeon for at least three weeks to make sure they are free of pigeon diseases, before introducing them to the flock.
- Keep the coop clean and sanitized.
- Food should be stored in air-tight containers to prevent rodent and insect infestations.
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