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Do Birds Get Depressed?

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Question: Do Birds Get Depressed?
My bird has been acting "down in the dumps" lately. Is it possible for birds to get depressed? What can I do to help?
Answer: It is possible for pet birds to get depressed, and depression in pet birds is actually more common than one might think.

Depression in pet birds can be caused by a number of reasons -- a change in cage position, simple boredom, or even the loss of a favorite toy. Symptoms of a depressed bird can include:
  • Fluffed up feathers

  • Appetite loss

  • Change in droppings

  • Irritability

  • Feather plucking
If you notice your bird showing any of these symptoms, the first thing you should do is schedule an appointment with your avian vet for a full check up. If the vet finds no medical reason for your bird's symptoms, then they may indeed be caused by depression.

Examine your bird's cage and living area to make sure it is clean and comfortable. Many times, depression can be caused by living in an uncomfortable environment. Check the cage position to see that it is not in an area that could stress your bird, such as by a drafty door. If possible, move your bird's cage to an area of the house where he or she can observe the family doing day to day activities.

Inadequate mental stimulation is a major cause of depression in pet birds. Make sure that your bird has plenty of safe and fun bird toys, and that you rotate them on and out of the cage regularly. Rotating your bird's toys insures that your pet always has something new and interesting to play with, and will help to curb boredom.

Make sure that your bird also gets plenty of "one on one" time with you and other family members, and that he or she is allowed adequate time to play outside of the cage each day. Taking extra time to spend with your pet will boost the bond that you have with your bird and help to keep depression at bay.

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