How Do You Know If a Bird is in Pain?

If you have a bird, it’s important that you know how to detect when they are in pain so you can treat them quickly and effectively. This is especially true for birds with chronic health conditions that can cause intense pain and discomfort.

What Are the Signs of Pain in a Bird?

The signs of pain in a bird can be varied, but the most common are swelling of the air sacs, bleeding from an injury or illness and loss of appetite. These are all symptoms that need to be evaluated by a vet as soon as possible.

Swelling of the Air Sacs

If your bird has a swelling in their air sacs it is an indication that they are in extreme pain. This is a very dangerous situation as it can result in death. Place the bird in a cool, calm, dark place and call your vet to come see it as soon as possible.

Loss of Appetite

If your bird isn’t eating, this is a very bad sign. It can be a sign of an underlying condition such as cancer or heart disease, or it may simply be due to stress and fear.

Puffing Up Their Feathers

Many birds tend to puff their feathers up when they feel relaxed or sleepy, but it can also be a sign that something is wrong. A bird that has puffed their feathers for an extended period of time is usually in a lot of pain and needs to be seen by a vet immediately.


If your bird squints, this is another sign that they are in a lot of pain. Squinting is a very common sign of arthritis in dogs and cats, but it can also be a symptom in your bird as well.

Bite Wounds, Cuts and Abrasions

These are all traumatic injuries that can cause your bird serious pain. They can be caused by a sudden injury such as hitting a window or falling out of your car, but they can also be a result of a chronic health issue that causes them to have constant pain.

Blood anywhere in the cage or on your bird is always a very good indicator that you should investigate further. If you can, pour hydrogen peroxide on the area where the bleeding is occurring and observe your bird for at least three minutes.

Decreased Social Interactions

If you notice your bird avoiding other birds, a decrease in grooming activities or decreased interaction with their owners, this is another sign that they are in severe pain and need to be seen by a vet as soon as possible.


If your bird starts to mutilate their own skin, this is also a sign that they are in severe pain and need immediate attention from a vet. Generally, this is a reaction to pain and can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) or corticosteroid creams.

In many cases, birds can be treated at home by their owners, but this is often not a good option as it is very difficult to diagnose these problems and get your bird the appropriate treatment without the help of a veterinarian.