Everything is going great with your pet bird, and you have noticed no problems until, one day, he or she begins to make strange sounds, shake, throw the head back and stiffen. He or she may vocalize and paddle the feet or lose consciousness. Then, he or she seems to recover, at least for a little while. It is a scary sight to see your pet bird have a seizure, especially if you have owned the bird for quite some time with no problems. You may wonder what are the reasons and what you can do to prevent them.

Possible causes of seizures in birds:

Several things can cause seizures in birds. Possible causes include head injuries, low blood sugar, poisoning (especially by heavy metals such as lead), low vitamin D and low blood calcium. Pesticide exposure and stress may also be causes. The way the egg he or she was developed in and genetic anomalies, such as crests on ducks, can make a bird more susceptible to seizures. Diseases and tumors are also suspected causes, and your bird may also exhibit other signs of these issues such as lack of appetite.


If your bird is experiencing seizures, isolate the bird in a quiet, dark place and call your veterinarian who will want to do tests. Common tests for seizures include a full blood test which includes count and chemicals, x-rays, DNA tests for a possible genetic component and, in some cases, an MRI for more specific internal issues such as swollen organs and congestion in the respiratory system. Your veterinarian may administer anti-seizure medication during your office visit. Your bird may also be put on fluids and antibiotics until it is stable.


Treatment is given according to its underlying cause. If the cause is dietary, your veterinarian may prescribe a certain diet and supplements. If it's a disease or poisoning, then the disease will be treated and medication will be administered to remove the toxins from your bird's body. If poison, such as heavy metal toxicity, is discovered to be the cause, you may need to go through your home and remove any potential causes. Many people may not realize that some bird cages may contain lead. If you have a species that likes to chew, such as a parrot, you may need to replace your cage.

Many birds only have a few episodes and never have another one again. However, seizures are not normal and happen for a reason. Always contact your veterinarian any time you see or think you see your bird have a seizure. Some seizures can be serious enough that the bird could be seriously injured and, some of the causes are deadly.