Feathered friend & lung issues

I was just recently diagnosed with an allergy to my cockatiel. My pulmonologist wants me to re-do me her but I just can't part with her! I have had her since she was 7 weeks old! She is 18 years old now. Generally, cockatiels don't live more than 25 years. It would be heartbreaking to find her a new home at this time in both of our lives! I am retired and live alone. I had previously been diagnosed with mild COPD years ago because I was a smoker and found out that not only the obvious smoke was affecting my breathing but that I was actually allergic to the tobacco plant itself. I quit smoking years and years ago. I guess my question would be what can I do now to minimize the effects of my bird on my lungs? Any suggestions would be appreciated... except re-homing my friend. Thank you in advance. 😊

13 Replies

  • Hi

    No easy answer, but found this bathing and mist bathing may help.

    Can somebody else do any close contact cage cleaning and feeding.


    Cockatiels are known to be dusty birds because they have an excessive amount of powder down compared to other species. You'll find white powder all over the cage, on objects near the cage and on your cloths. Watch you bird shake out his/her feathers after preening and you may see a small cloud of white dust. If you pet your bird with your chin or cheek, you may even have a coating of white powder on your skin. Excessive powder down from birds can aggravate a person's allergies or asthma. Although bathing or misting baths will help to remove some of the excess powder that is on your bird, if you have allergies or asthma, a cockatiel may not be the right bird for you. Talk to your doctor first before bringing a bird into your life.

  • I have a Quaker parrot and 4 budgies so I know what your talking about when it comes to feathers, if you live in a house or condo with your own furnace try to change your furnace filters 1 or 2 times a month.

    The difference between a cockatiel and most other birds is that they're dust birds, which means in order to protect themselves from getting soaked in the wild they produce dust. While most other birds in the parrot family have an oil gland which helps prevent them from getting wet. To keep dust down you can purchase an avian air purifier, I believe it's called the "rabbit air filter" (other ones may contain teflon which can kill your bird). Also spray your bird every 2 days and before changing their paper spray the bottom so that all the dust and feathers stay down and don't get sucked up into your lungs.

    Here's a better explanation:

    A change in diet for your feathery friend might also help with dust production, my Quaker had really oilly feathers before we met with an avian vet and found out he has issues with certain fats and sugars. Try to not feed them any sunflower seeds or peanuts or if you do only as a treat, and make sure to give them pellets. I make my own seed mix out of budgie food, safflower, and pellets (Zupreem, Roudybush), the pellet ratio to seed should be 2 pellets for every seed. And make sure to give your tiel plenty of fruits and vegetables.

    You might be able to find topics on "Talkparrots" (or post one the people there are very knowledgeable) talkparrots.com/forum.php#/...



  • You learn something every day TGIF - never knew there were these two kinds of birds. Just your bad luck to have the kind which doesnt help with breathing problems.

    While you are deciding what to do at least you can wear a mask if you have to get close to your feathered friend. I hope you can find a solution which suits both of you.

  • very difficult my daughter had a chinchilla they bath in sand and I had a allergy to the dust so I used a mask when I cleaned out

  • Hi there TGIF,

    I'm sorry that you are so upset because your doctors have suggested that you rehome your bird.

    You have had your little friend for many years. It was the smoking and tobacco which caused your COPD, not your bird.

    The others have given you some very good information about the birds and ways of minimising the dust. If you take their advice you can continue to have a happy life with your bird without worrying too much about any effects on you.

    Doctors tick boxes and cover angles - they don't live our lives.

    I wish you many more happy years with your little cockatiel. By the way, my Mum had three. They used to fly freely around the house and never affected my chest.xx

  • Thank you, everyone, for your replies and advice. I was going to buy an air purifier but didn't know that some can kill a bird!! I will definitely do some research on the best air purifiers for those with cockatiels! I just can't part with her! Not at this stage in both of our lives. My pulmonologist said it was mostly the dust (?) from her poo. So, I've bought some masks to use when cleaning her cage. I will also try misting her every two days to keep the dust down. Thank you all for your help! 😊

    I am determined to keep my Feathered friend.

    I am also allergic to house dust and cat dander, but am not about to live in a plastic bubble. A previous pulmonologist had given me a two page list of things I needed to do each day in order to minimize contact with house dust. I had three school aged children at the time and had no time to spend doing all he suggested. There's more to life than keeping an extensive cleaning regimen every day.

  • If it's dust from her poo it might be a good idea to get poop off too since it makes cage cleaning easier and safer since most cleaners are dangerous to birds.


  • Yes, I clean her play gym on the top of her cage every morning. And will increase the cage cleaning, too, to every day, if necessary.

  • Oh it's a cleaner it's by kaytee I probably should've put a link it's called "Poop off bird cleaner"


  • Hello TGIF, I sincerely hope you can find a solution to enable you to live alongside your little bird, without problems. There are a lot of masks available, as well as air purifiers. Where there's a will, there's a way.

  • Yes, and I am determined to find a way! 😊

  • When my dog George was a puppy, the doctor told me I should rehome him, because he was at the stage where he would test his teeth on me.

    I had little scabs on my arms. She said I might catch an infection which would be dangerous as I am diabetic. I ignored her.

    My George soon learned not to nibble me and is now 4 years old. The love and comfort I have had from him, has been priceless. Doctors aren't always right.

  • George. I love that name for a dog! 😁 My pulmonologist may have found evidence of bird fancier's lung disease in the biopsies she took, but she forgets I also have been diagnosed with COPD a long time ago. I was allergic to the tobacco leaf/plant besides the usual effects of smoking people get. I never continuosly smoked. Only off and on. But, I'm sure it has affected my health more than my bird. I'm going to die someday. But, I'm not going to live in a plastic bubble in the meantime. Even if I were to follow her advice and rehome my bird, the COPD will eventually worsen, so what's the sense? I'll take as many precautions as I can but evicting my bird is not an option.

    My little friend has been with me through thick and thin. Like you said, our furred and feathered friends give us love and comfort and that is priceless!

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