Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Can Parrots Have Heart Attacks? (When, How & Remedies)


When I fostered a parrot for the first time, I was terribly scared when I saw him scared due to loud noises. I was worried if he would develop anxiety due to fear. But, after enquiring with an avian vet about the nature of parrots, I had to stay extra cautious.

Can parrots have heart attacks? Parrots don’t have heart attacks but develop heart diseases. When they are scared or depressed, they develop atherosclerosis which affects the functioning of blood vessels and lowers the quality of life.

In most cases, they develop stress and anxiety due to the nature of their surroundings or diet patterns. In this article, I will be detailing the common cause and perfect solutions to treat parrots in crises.

Can birds die out of fear?

Birds are fragile creatures that can die out of fear when they are exposed to high-decibel sounds and predators. Sometimes, even loud music, television, or shouting can scare them. If you have a pet bird, it is important to make sure that its environment is calm and relaxed.

Parrots can also develop heart diseases due to various factors like obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet, stress, etc.

You should insist your bird lose weight if he/she is obese. Here’s an article – how to make cockatiel lose weight?

A vet can help you determine if your parrot is suffering from heart disease and suggest the necessary course of treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment of heart diseases in parrots can improve their quality of life and increase their lifespan.

Can parrots have a stroke?

Parrots can have strokes and often develop seizures. The best way to find if your bird has a stroke is to look at these symptoms – irregular muscle spasms, unconsciousness, regular twitching of legs, weird vocalization, irregular wing flaps, and inability to balance the body.

There are many potential causes of stroke in parrots, including head trauma, tumors, and blood clots. While some birds may recover with treatment, others may not be so lucky. In some cases, stroke may be the cause of death in parrots.

This YouTube video presents the case of a stroke in a bird. If you own a bird at home, you need to know the causes.

If you suspect your bird has had a stroke, it’s important to get them the help they need as soon as possible.

What causes stroke in birds?

Some of the probable instances landing in stroke are poor diets, existing diseases, old age, cerebral apoplexy, and sleep deprivation. In some cases, paralysis can develop comorbidities and worsen the condition.

  • Poor diet

It can be worrisome to see your pet bird developing a stroke. It happens suddenly.

Birds need a balanced diet. Giving them random foods can result in deficiencies.

  • Pre-existing diseases

Diseases like psittacosis are contagious and can instantly result in seizures and stroke in birds. It can also damage the brain to a significant extent.

In a research article, the authors have evaluated the case of ischemic stroke in a 14-year-old Congo African Grey parrot. Partial seizures were evident and the bird was treated with levetiracetam and zonisamide combination. After 20 months, the frequency of stroke reduced significantly.

Old birds are more prone to strokes. This may be due to the general deterioration of the body or weakening of the blood vessels.

Cerebral apoplexy is a term used for stroke in animals. It is caused by a rupture in an artery supplying blood to the brain. This can be because of high blood pressure, weak vessels, or aneurysm.

MSD Veterinary Manual mentions the influence of parasites and atherosclerosis that lead to strokes.

Another possible symptom of aging is about laying eggs. Read this article – When do parakeets stop laying eggs?

  • Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation can also lead to stroke in birds. When a bird is exhausted, it becomes susceptible to strokes. This is because the body’s ability to regulate blood pressure and flow is weakened.

Parrots are very active birds and love to explore their surroundings. It is important to keep a close eye on them, especially if they are older, and make sure they get plenty of rest. A healthy diet is also important. Make sure to include lots of fresh vegetables and fruits in your bird’s diet, and avoid giving them fatty or processed foods.

While these are basic ways to avoid stroke in birds, you should also know how to manage them.

How to care for a bird after stroke?

Stroke can be preventable if you pay close attention to their environment, food, and lifestyle.

  • Hygienic environment

Your bird has suffered from stroke probably because of a contagious infection. You should maintain hygiene and separate them to improve resistance.

  • Balanced diet

Feeding your bird a balanced diet is essential to maintaining their health and preventing stroke. Make sure they have a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as a good source of protein.

  • Regular exercise

A healthy bird will be more resistant to stroke. Provide your bird with plenty of opportunity for exercise by giving them a large enough cage and plenty of toys.

  • Comfortable environment

Stroke can be very traumatic for your bird. Make sure they have a comfortable place to rest and relax.

Suzanne Krom, a bird owner, recommends a thorough change in the cage as soon as an episode of stroke is experienced by the bird.

There are many treatments available that can improve your bird’s prognosis.

Can birds have panic attacks?

Birds, like parakeets and cockatiels, are fundamentally phobic and produce an excessive reaction to stimuli when they are exposed to a fearful situation. Some develop loud noises to indicate fear while other birds tend to hurt them out of pressure.

It could be tough to see them attack themselves simply to escape from obstacles. However, it is not impossible for birds to have panic attacks. If a bird’s phobia is severe enough, anything could trigger a panic attack.

It is hard to know what causes the original fear response in your bird, but you can help your bird by remaining calm and helping it feel safe. Try to avoid anything that may trigger an attack and work with your bird to help it feel more comfortable.

Symptoms for anxiety attacks in birds

If you are new to raising birds and want to know common indicators of panic/anxiety attacks, here is an exhaustive list.

  • Severe feather damages
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Regular tremors or quivering
  • Excessive drooling or vomiting
  • Inability to perch or stand
  • Excessive vocalization, often high-pitched
  • Avoidance of people or other birds
  • Panting or rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Lethargy or depression
  • Anorexia or weight loss

These are only some of the signs that your bird may be suffering from anxiety or panic attacks. According to Bird Vet Melbourne, these signs need urgent intervention from a vet to avoid self-directed behaviors.

Another potential reason is the loss of an organ. Here is an article – Can a budgie live with one leg?

If you notice any of these behaviors, it is important to seek professional help right away in order to ensure the health and safety of your bird.

How to prevent anxiety in birds?

Anxiety in birds needs to be treated at the earliest. Otherwise, it can be fatal to them anytime.

Here are a few ways to prevent anxiety in birds.

1. Ensure right socialization

When you let birds together, keep an eye on socializing behaviors so one bird does not harm the other.

2. Provide enough toys and perches

Birds need something to do, or else they will become bored and anxious. Make sure your bird has enough toys and perches to keep them occupied.

When your bird is happy, you can see him/her gain weight.

Related – How to make cockatiel gain weight?

3. Create a safe environment

Make sure your bird’s environment is safe and free from potential dangers. This will help reduce their anxiety levels.

You can also play some music. Here’s how – Should I play budgie sounds for my budgie?

Budgie World, in a YouTube video, mentioned the uniqueness in the personalities of birds. Hence, the right definition of safety cannot be predetermined and judged.

4. Provide a healthy diet

A healthy diet is important for all animals, and birds are no exception. Make sure your bird is getting the nutrients they need to stay healthy and reduce their anxiety levels.

Avoid an entire seed diet. Here’s why – how long do budgies live on a seed diet?

5. Talk to your veterinarian

If you think your bird may be suffering from anxiety, talk to your veterinarian. They can help you determine the root of the problem and recommend a course of treatment.

6. Develop resilience

Allow your birds to experience things and remember to pat and calm them whenever they feel scared.  This will help them develop resilience and not be so anxious in the future.

Anxiety in birds can be a serious problem, but it can be prevented with a few simple steps. Make sure your bird has a safe environment, plenty of toys and perches, and a healthy diet.

Can a bird be bipolar?

A bird cannot necessarily be bipolar but can display weird behaviors that can make you think so.

Every bird has specific preferences and comfort zones. Whenever you expose them to an uncomfortable zone, they can display weird behaviors. Perhaps, they also enter into self-destructive behaviors.

Birds like budgies, parrots, and conures are affectionate and maintain excellent temperament levels. When they display unusual behaviors, it can have a meaning behind it.

When you think your bird is bipolar, it could probably mean that he is anxious or stressed about something and needs your help. It could also indicate unhappiness. You should either check his temperament or activities that make him behave weirdly.

Can birds die from being scared?

Birds can die out of fear as their fragile bodies experience adrenal gland fatigue and irregular functioning of blood vessels.

The over-secretion of stress hormones can cause fatal internal bleeding and a heart attack in birds. Fear could also lead to fatal injuries if a bird flies into the path of an oncoming predator or car. So, while being scared may not kill a bird outright, it can certainly contribute to its death.

They indicate their fears with yelling and overstimulation. According to Pawtracks, the body language of birds is just enough to confirm the existing mood and formulate an intervention. Remember to closely watch your bird.

In the case of captive parrots, dying out of fear is quite uncommon as they become used to the environment. This is not the case with wild birds.

You must have heard about the deaths of birds due to bursts of crackers. This is sufficient to highlight how vulnerable they become when they enter the wild habitat.

Can birds have mood swings?

Mood swings are common in birds when they experience changes in environment, food, companion, or people. The changes can be sudden or gradual, but they all have an effect on the bird’s mood.

Some birds are more prone to mood swings than others. For example, parrots are known for their emotional personalities, while crows are typically more even-keeled.

Mood swings can often result in depression and anxiety attacks in birds. 

There are many ways to help a bird with mood swings, including providing a stable environment, good food, ideal companionship, plenty of enrichment, and positive reinforcement training. With the proper care, birds can overcome their mood swings and live healthy, happy lives.

Can a bird go crazy?

Absolutely! Some birds display craziness in their movements, activities, and behaviors like loud noises, and all of these have meanings.

When your bird feels insane, he can scream abruptly and then fly off. Alternatively, he can also get puzzled and display angst during certain times. This means that he is in a new, unclear environment and needs your assistance to feel better.

There are numerous ways that you can help your bird when he is feeling crazy. You can start by spending more time with him, talking softly and reassuringly. You can also provide favorite toys or perches to give him a sense of stability. You can also socialize him with other birds so his temperament is effectively adjusted.

Note. Behaviors can change in birds in captivity and those in the wild.

Can birds die from depression?

Birds can die from depression but it takes several days as they deteriorate physiologically and psychologically. When they are worn out completely, they pass away.

In general, birds get depressed when they are bored, lonely, and unhappy. This can stop them from consuming food and socializing with others. As a result, they can become very malnourished and lethargic. In severe cases, birds will lose their feathers, which could lead to them getting sick and dying.

If you see a visible loss of feathers, here’s an article about it – why is parakeet losing feathers?

Salvador Budgie presents a YouTube video where a bird has passed away because of the death of partner. This is a case of depression faced by the living bird.

If you have a lone parakeet at home, we have an exclusive article answering that aspect – can parakeets live alone?

Do birds get depressed in cages?

bird stressed in cage

A cage, free of toys, food, water, other birds, and sounds of people, can depress a bird easily. It can initially build boredom and over time, it leads to depression.

You can see your bird simply standing or sitting with no movements just because he is bored. There are many other reasons birds get depressed when left in cages.

  • Their movements are limited – they can’t fly or explore.
  • They are lonely – they crave companionship.
  • They are bored – they need stimulation.
  • The environment is unnatural – it doesn’t allow them to express their natural behaviors.
  • They do not get a chance to know the external environment – they are not exposed to different smells, sounds, and sights.
  • They are deprived of sleep – they need 12 hours of sleep every night but often get less because of the light in their cage.
  • Their routines become monotonous – they eat, drink, sleep, and poop at the same time every day with no change in their routine.

Depression in birds can manifest itself in many ways, including a change in eating habits, lethargy, plucking out feathers, or self-mutilation.

When you decide to bring home a parrot or any other bird, ensure he is cage-free, or better don’t ruin his freedom.

Is it cruel to keep birds in a cage?

Humanely, yes. Caged birds are prone to boredom and self-destructive behaviors as they suffer from mental disorders.

Further, their natural behaviors are inhibited as they are unable to fly or flap their wings. Most importantly, caged birds are deprived of the opportunity to engage in important activities such as foraging, socializing, and mating. They basically struggle with prolonged mental illnesses as they don’t interact with the external environment and are not given the option to choose their partners.

To avoid mental suffering in your birds, always provide them with enough toys and perches to keep them occupied, and use the cage only when needed. If they are sick, you can cage them so you can give special assistance. Alternatively, you can cage them in case of paralysis or injuries. But, not during other instances when they are good.

How to know if a bird is scared?

When a bird is scared, you can see their eyelids almost popping out with feathers stuck to bodies. They remain immobile and experience high heartbeat rates.

Birds also open their beaks and make hissing sounds when they are scared. You can see their pupils getting dilated and some birds may even faint. Some birds tend to isolate themselves from one particular area in the room or the ground and do not move until they feel completely normal.

If you see a bird exhibiting these behaviors, it is best to give them space and not approach them. Even after some time, you should identify the source of fear and then take a call. Sometimes, they could be scared of you as well.

How to tell if a budgie is lonely?

A lone budgie displays the following signs.

  • Poor eating behaviors
  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Isolation from others
  • Unusual position of sitting and standing
  • Sudden aggression  
  • Change in vocalization
  • Loss of feathers
  • Unkempt appearance

If you see any of these signs, your budgie may be lonely and in need of some companionship. Try placing another birdcage next to theirs or put them in an aviary with other birds.

How to calm a depressed, scared bird?

Here are a few tips to calm your depressed bird.

  • Give sometime

It is very important to give your bird some time to adjust to the new environment.

  • Make sure the cage is big enough

A big cage will make your bird feel less anxious and stressed.

  • Give your bird a perch

Perching is a natural activity for birds and it will help them feel calmer.

  • Cover the cage

This will create a sense of security for your bird.

  • Make sure the cage is in a quiet place

A noisy environment will only make your bird more anxious.

  • Remove the source of fear

If your bird is scared of something, try to remove that thing from its environment.

  • Provide toys

Toys will keep your bird entertained and help it relax.

  • Make slow movements

Do not introduce new things at a rapid pace at this stage. Make slow movements and allow your bird to cope with them.

  • Give more attention

Spend some extra time with your bird. Talking to it, petting it, and just being around will help it feel more secure.

It is important to be patient with your bird. Do not try to force it to do anything. Just let it take its own time to adjust. These are a few tips that will help you and your bird to overcome the barrier called fear.

Final Thoughts

Dying from stress, loneliness, and depression are common among birds. However, dying from heart attacks is less common. Parrots develop heart diseases as they age. As a bird owner, it is essential to closely look at their signs and behaviors to detect and treat abnormalities at early stages.

If you have an elderly bird, remember to do a monthly health checkup for him/her. Also, I give my birds an extremely cozy environment to wander happily. I’d recommend the same to you too.

Sowmya Sankaran
Sowmya Sankaran
Sowmya Sankaran is crazy about animals and birds! An avid rescuer and rehabilitator of animals and birds, she uses PETSMOND to share her experiences in raising different creatures and paying attention to intricate aspects of their health. Know more about me - https://petsmond.com/about/

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