Abscesses in Birds

David McCluggage, D.V.M., C.V.A.

An abscess is a pocket or localized concentration of infection. These infections are caused mostly by bacteria, but fungal infections can also occur.

Bird abscesses are often within the body and not easily seen, as opposed to abscesses in dogs and cats, which are most often located just under the skin and easily seen. Because of the internal nature of these abscesses, the condition is much more serious in birds, and can be life threatening. Conventional western avian medicine is extremely important in helping diagnose and treat abscesses in birds. However, western medicine alone is not enough. Complementary therapies can hasten the speed of recovery and often may actually make the difference in the full recovery of your bird.

This condition is an excellent example where complementary therapies can be especially helpful in building the immune system, aid in resolving the abscess, and in the strengthening of the bird's other organ functions to help fight off the infection.

Due to the severe nature of this illness, we strongly recommend you see a competent avian veterinarian in your area. You may also consult with Dr. McCluggage by phone. For phone consult information, click here.


  1. Elevated White Blood Count
  2. Radiographic Evidence of abscesses
  3. Feather plucked bird
  4. Marked weight loss
  5. Abscesses are more common in Amazon parrots and Macaws, but can be in all species of birds
  6. Chronically sick birds, birds that develop one illness after another, never seeming to be able to stay healthy
  7. Obviously sick birds that have not been diagnosed (abscesses are often very hard to diagnose)

Conventional Western Medicine:

Conventional medicine will try to diagnose this disease with radiographs and endoscopic examinations, when possible cultures of the abscess will be taken to determine what microbial organism is causing the problem.

Therapy consists of long term antibiotic or anti-fungal use. Surgery to remove the abscess or debulk (partially remove or reduce the size of the abscess) is possible in a few cases. Nebulization therapy (inhaling air that has been infused with an antibiotic) is used if the abscesses are located in air sacs or bronchi.

Complementary Therapies:

These therapies are designed to enhance the immune system, especially phagocytosis, drain the abscess and provide energy and immune building blocks to restore normal function to an already exhausted immune system.

Many hand fed birds will accept hand feeding again. If possible teach the bird to allow hand feeding. Only hand feed your bird with a spoon or cup. Never try to force food down their throat. You can easily give the supplements and herbs that are needed by placing them into the feeding formula. Alternately, the formulas can be placed on soft foods that are especially tasty for your bird.

Check out the related products below for some of the therapies we recommend. Additionally, you may consider:

  1. Boost immune system with medicinal mushrooms
  2. Provide prebiotics and probiotics (Douglas Multi-Probiotic) during and after antibiotic therapy
  3. Use Chinese herbs to drain and remove abscesses
  4. Homeopathic Silicea, 6C daily