Worming & Treating for Lice & Mites


I often have pet bird owners asking me this question and I always say don’t treat anything unless it has been diagnosed by an avian veterinarian. Pet birds aren’t like pet cats and dogs that need to be wormed every 3 months and consistently treated for fleas. Cats and dogs need to be wormed and de-fleaed regularly because they are outside, mixing with other animals that could pass on parasite problems to them. Whereas, your pet bird who doesn’t come into contact with wild birds or other birds with suspect health, is unlikely to pick up parasites.

Over-the-counter wormers are often outdated drugs that worms have become resistant to. Some of them taste so bitter, that the bird resists drinking until the next day when the worming mixture is thrown out and replaced with fresh water. When wormers are put into drinking water, it is impossible to give the bird a measured dose. The best way to check if your bird has worms is to get its faeces tested by your avian veterinarian. If worms are diagnosed, the correct dose of wormer according to the bird’s weight, can be administered via a crop tube. If your bird has a heavy infestation of worms, simply using a wormer can be very dangerous. Dead worms can cause blockages in the narrow intestines of your bird. Often paraffin oil has to be crop tubed to help the dead worms pass from your bird’s gastro-intestinal system. Your veterinarian will also be able to give you advice on how to prevent re-infestation.

In the same vein, unless your bird has been diagnosed with lice or mites, don’t treat it with mite or lice spray. Many pet bird owners don’t understand the need for their pet to groom and keep its feathers in good order. They confuse the grooming process with an animal itching or scratching as a result of an irritation. Consequently they unnecessarily spray the bird with insecticidal mite sprays. Constant exposure to toxins in the form of mite and lice sprays can be fatal to your bird. If your bird has mites or lice, you will be the first to know. You will see them crawling amongst the bird’s feathers and they will also crawl over you. Birds should only be sprayed for mites and lice once they have been diagnosed by a qualified avian veterinarian.

Most avian veterinarians see more pet birds with problems caused by over-the-counter parasite treatments than they see birds that actually have parasite infestations. If you suspect that your bird has a parasite problem see your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and correct treatment. There are many different types of mites and lice and intestinal parasites and many different types of drugs to treat these problems. The important thing is to get an accurate diagnosis combined with the correct treatment and advice on prevention. This will eliminate any problem and prevent the re-appearance of the pests.

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1 Comment

  1. I have one horse, who I rotate pastures with cows. She is showing no signs of parasite infestations. How often, if at all, do I need to worm her?

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