At the start of the pandemic, I was initially concerned that my beautiful parrots might be affected by the virus.
My fear was heightened by the fact that birds’ respiratory systems are so delicate which makes respiratory illness deadly.
Although viruses are usually species-specific, mutations can let them jump species.
Several animals have been infected with COVID-19, including pets such as cats and dogs, large cats, farmed mink, gorillas, and otters in zoos, sanctuaries, and aquariums.
So, what exactly is the position with our favorite parrot?
In this article, let’s find out if parrots can really contact COVID, and why there is a need for caution and not panic.
So, do parrots catch COVID?
No! parrots do not catch COVID and you also cannot catch the virus from them as birds have not been affected by this virus. However, even though the chances of transmission are low, it’s never a bad idea to take cautious and reasonable steps towards your bird’s hygiene.
Parrots as birds are ideal hosts for a variety of viruses because they gather in large flocks, carry viruses without showing symptoms, and migrate all over the world.
However, there seems to be no reason to be worried about SARS-CoV-2, the type of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in humans and animals.
A study tested more than 400 animals for risk of infection and found that all the birds tested had the lowest risk of contracting the virus.
On the other hand, pets worldwide, including dogs and cats, have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19.
Regarding these questions, we found a clear and authoritative source in this document from the University of California at Davis.
The COVID-19 virus is just one of 39 strains of coronaviruses.
So, it’s important to take sensible and reasonable steps toward the hygiene of your birds’ environment and your home environment.
Whenever you keep companion birds – provide a clean, safe, and healthy environment for all of them.
Even though the chances of transmission are low, it’s never a bad idea to be cautious, and situations like this remind us of the necessity of bio-security.
The American Veterinary Medical Association advises that people infected with COVID-19 limit their contact with their pets and leave their care to others until more is known about the virus.
Kissing, hugging, and sharing food with them are also recommended against by the AVMA.
This prevents infected people’s respiratory secretions from spreading to animals.
An infected person can potentially infect all surfaces in that environment.
This includes a countertop, doorknobs, mobile phones, and of course a parrot’s feathers.
You may wish to seek guidance from your local or national health authorities on how to respond and manage your home in such situations.
What to do if your pet tests positive
Although CDC has provided a general precautionary guideline on what to do if you think your pet has the virus that causes COVID-19, this guideline is more useful if you have other pets that are prone to the virus (e.g. cat, dog) in the same home or space with your parrot.
Virus-infected pets may or may not become sick. Even if they do, they only suffer a mild illness and recover fully. Serious illnesses are extremely rare in pets.
So, if your pet shows symptoms, the illness is usually mild and can be treated at home.
The virus that causes COVID-19 may cause the following symptoms in pets:
- Lethargy (Sluggishness or unusual lack of energy)
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Runny nose
- Eye discharge
Talk to your veterinarian if your pet is sick and you suspect it might be caused by the coronavirus.
If you have COVID-19 and your pet becomes ill, do not take your pet to the veterinary clinic yourself.
Inform your veterinarian that you have COVID-19 and the veterinarian may offer telemedicine consultations or other plans to treat the sick pet.
The vet may also advise you to isolate your pet.
During home isolation, it is important to monitor your pet’s symptoms.
Your veterinarian should be contacted if your pet has new symptoms or is getting worse.
Make sure you follow your veterinarian’s care instructions.
Your veterinarian may ask you to keep a written record of your pet’s symptoms.
When to end your pet home isolation
Your veterinarian can tell you when it is safe for your pet to be around other people and animals.
In general, your pet can resume normal activities if:
- It has been at least 72 hours since it last showed symptoms;
- It has been at least 14 days since it last tested positive;
- Follow-up tests for current infection are negative.
Can parrots die from COVID?
Parrots cannot die from COVID since they have little or no chance of contracting the virus in the first place. However, other worldwide pets like cats and dogs can get the serious illness from infection with the virus, but this is extremely rare.
This fear of parrots dying from COVID is heightened by the fact that birds’ respiratory systems are so delicate making a respiratory illness deadly.
Nonetheless, there is no COVID threat to life for your pet parrot.