It is very common for new Macaw owners to mistake symptoms of illness in their parrot for the flu or a cold. In fact, birds do not catch colds or the flu like human beings do. Symptoms that look like a cold in a parrot can be a number of other very serious illnesses. All parrot illnesses should be treated by an avian veterinarian.
Macaw owners should pay close attention to the daily attitude, stature, appetite and general look of their bird to see signs of change. Any deviation from what is normal should be seen promptly by a veterinarian because outward signs of illness do not appear until a bird is extremely ill and it may be too late to treat them at that point.
Cold And Flulike Symptoms
A runny nose is often the first visual symptom Macaw owners mistake for a cold. If the nasal area or "nare" becomes crusty parrot owners should immediately suspect a runny nose and seek veterinary advice.
Macaw "Cold" Symptoms
Seeing the symptoms humans recognize as a cold in a Macaw might actually signal a disease called PDD (Macaw Wasting Disease). This is a serious illness that you should not attempt to treat yourself. The disease is always fatal. You should immediately isolate your Macaw from other birds in the house and get him to a certified avian veterinarian as soon as possible.
Viral Or Bacterial
Parrots, including Macaws, do come down with viral and bacterial infections other than PDD. Any time a symptom that resembles the flu or a cold becomes evident, a veterinarian should perform a blood test to determine the exact source of the infection. Treating at home or without knowledge of what type of infection is causing the symptoms is a hit or miss method of treating that takes up valuable time. Once symptoms are present, an infection is very advanced and there is no time to waste.
Keeping your Macaw in top form requires excellent nutrition, housing, and environmental care. Macaws are tropical birds that need to be kept warm and out of cold drafts in cold weather months. They need a varied diet of fruits, vegetables, and nuts as well as large seeds and a good Macaw pellet formulated for large parrots. Macaws should get at least 1 to 2 hours of unobstructed sunlight each day, or a UVB ray light as a substitute so that they can develop and absorb vitamin D properly. A source of calcium should be available at all times in the form of a cuddle bone. Cooked scrambled eggs (finely ground shell included) can be given daily to increase calcium intake.
There are respiratory medicines that are sold over-the-counter for birds. Ornacyn is an antibiotic used to treat forms of respiratory problems in birds. It is advisable to seek the advice of a skilled avian veterinarian before prescribing any medications to be sure you are treating the proper illness.