Two cockatoos look at each other from the same perch

Can My Bird Catch My Cold?

Seasonal colds or flus are a common fixture, often requiring missed school or work, and some pet owners may worry that their cold could affect the non-human residents of their home. While passing an illness to a bird is rare, there are some things to keep in mind if you or a family member is sick and you want to ensure your birds stay healthy. Here are some things to consider to help protect your animals in flu season and beyond.

Can I Get My Bird Sick?

While the worry of transmitting illness in your household to your bird or pet is a common one, for the most part birds’ immune systems protect against the majority of human diseases. While there are certain strains and types of bacteria that birds are not as well protected against, practicing good hygiene and limiting handling and exposure can limit risk. However, some strains like Gram-negative bacteria can be transmitted via saliva, so owners should be very careful not to transfer via kissing or sharing food with their bird. Pet birds can also be susceptible to strep throat, and limiting contact between the bird and an infected member of the family is prudent.

As many species of birds are both intelligent and playful, some owners have reported their birds presenting coughing, sneezing or sniffling symptoms that are actually just their birds mimicking the mannerisms they see in their owners who are sick. While it is rarer to get sick from humans, birds can develop respiratory infections from other sources, so if your bird is coughing or sneezing ensure it is playful imitation rather than actual symptoms.

In the majority of cases, your bird picking up your cold is very rare. Despite the rarity, proper hygiene and limiting contact is still important, and can help ensure you and your bird’s health are properly supported.

At myBird, we know how much joy birds can bring and seek to give bird lovers the knowledge they need to best care for their pets. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to check out our other posts about birds or take our quiz to see which types of birds may be right for you!