8 Common Pigeon Diseases

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I doubt strongly that there is anywhere in the world where bird lovers don’t admire pigeons. People even go as far as keeping these fantastic birds as pets. Pigeons are one of the most popular kinds of breeds in the order Columbiforme.

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Similar to doves, pigeons are short legged with stout bodies and can survive both in the wild and at homes almost everywhere around the world.

These birds as pets can be exposed to common diseases, and it is vital that they are quickly attended to ensure their survival.

1. Pigeon Chlamydia

Despite the fact that some birds may have developed a level of resistance to this virus, pigeons have no chance and may have a flare-up of this virus if under stress.

A professional vet should administer proper medication to the birds showing symptoms of chlamydia but know that disease cannot be cured entirely.

The primary issue is the respiratory infections caused by the virus and should be treated symptomatically, (based on the symptoms the birds are showing) and ensuring that their environment is free of dampness with the ideal temperature.

2. Pigeon Canker

Pigeon canker can be caused by tiny organisms called protozoan. This is a disease that is easily transferable from one bird to another; however, the organism is not able to survive outside of a bird for more than a few minutes.

Cankers are usually passed on from one pigeon to another when a water bowl is shared when feeding young pigeons crop milk and exhibiting billing with other adult pigeons.

Cankers are usually caused by organisms found in pigeon’s crop, bile ducts, throat, proventriculus, cloaca and other parts of the bird’s digestive tract.


Signs of canker differ depending on what part of the bird’s body it is found, but since it is most prevalent in the throat area, pigeons would have difficulty breathing as a result of the nodules present on the tonsils.

Other signs may include weight loss, bleeding from the mouth and the cloaca, diarrhoea and lethargy. Bird keeps may even notice cankers in nestling pigeons or in pigeon sinuses.

The organism may be seen using a microscope in the bird’s faeces and if it’s discovered that your pet has canker, then aggressive measures should be taken through medications and in other occasions, surgery, by your vet.

Canker may worsen if not immediately treated and may result to death.
You do not want you buddy dying, do you? So act fast if you see funny signs.

3. Pigeon Worms

Common to many other types of animals, pigeons can have various kinds of worms in their intestinal tract ranging from roundworms to tapeworms and hairworms.

These worms can live and grow digestive tract of pigeons causing diarrhoea, increased vulnerability to other diseases, weakness, and performance problems in competitive pigeons.

Sometimes worms can be seen passed in the faeces of a pigeon and often the worm’s eggs can be found during a microscopic exam. Tests are commonly done by vets to examine the droppings.

Worms are gotten from the insects and infected dropping from other birds, so this makes it difficult to prevent. Constant microscopic examination of your bird’s droppings is recommended to screen for these parasites. Treatment involves the use of medication that can be added to the water they drink.

4. Pigeon Coccidia

Just like worms, coccidia is classified as an intestinal protozoan that is found in pigeons and other birds and animals that causes diarrhoea, weakness, weightless and lethargy.

They can be transmitted from bird to bird when they ingest infected droppings. Pigeons can go without treatment if a small amount of coccidian is found in their body and when a pigeon is acting normal.


Microscopes are used to detect the microscopic organisms, which means, regular faecal exams are recommended, and it should be done by your vet to ensure your bird isn’t exposed to an overdose of coccidia. It is also advisable to treat your pigeon of any form of exposure to the disease to guarantee a healthy life.

5. Lice, Mites and Flies

It can be higher discomforting to watch your bird from not only irritation and bites but other forms of external damages. The lice, mites and flies are annoying pests that can cause severe damage to your pet if you do nothing about it.

They create tiny holes in the feather shafts; scaly appearance to the unfeathered parts of your pigeon and itching that indicates that your bird is harbouring some external parasites. Medicated sprays are commonly used on a pigeon that is infected, depending on the type of parasite the bird has. Consult your vet for confirmation.

6. Pigeon Hexamita

This organism can be found in the digestive tract of your pigeons, similar to the protozoan that causes canker.

However, hexamita is not as destructive for most pigeons as canker is but, despite that, it is recommended that your bird is treated once diagnosed with hexamita.

Like pigeon canker, the organism that causes hexamita can be found microscopically in your faeces and is sometimes often confused with canker due to their similar appearance.

Hexamita can cause diarrhoea if it overpopulates in your pigeon’s intestinal tract but generally goes unnoticed in regular pigeons.

7. Pigeon Mycoplasma

This is another disease that can also cause respiratory infections. Mycoplasma infects pigeons in their respiratory tracts, and symptoms similar to other conditions depending on the area of the respiratory tract that is affected may include coughing, nasal discharge, sneezing and other symptoms.

It is essential that your birds aren’t exposed to stress as it one of the primary reason why pigeons show signs of mycoplasma. So, ensure a clean and stress-free environment.

8. Respiratory Infections

Older and younger pigeons are susceptible to respiratory infections, and it can be highly contagious. It makes it hard for birds to breath or fly, hence, making them less active. What is a bird if it can’t fly? It is worst if your pet is a competing bird as poor performance is absolute.


If untreated, a pigeon with a respiratory infection would have its mouth open breathing, trying to increase its breathing effort with its eyes wide open, loss of appetite and eventually, death.

A number of things can care a respiratory infection in a pigeon such as fungi, viruses, mites and bacteria. The infections can affect the air sac, lungs, sinuses and other parts of the respiratory tract.

Discharge from the mouth, nares can be visibly seen, or you may notice your bird sneezing and coughing. These are clear signs of respiratory infections, and it needs to be treated aggressively.

Ensure your birds are kept in a clean environment, contact a vet to check for any parasites and treat immediately. Early treatment is vital to keep your bird alive.

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