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Dehydration In Parrots: Symptoms, Causes, And Prevention Tips

Parrots normally drink less water compared to other animals. This is because of their different fluid requirements which are due to various reasons such as lack of sweat glands, use of metabolic sources of water, smaller size, etc.  

On average parrots drink water two-three times a day depending on the size. They get most of the water from the food they eat. However, this often makes it hard to tell if your parrot is dehydrated or to track their water intake. 

Many sick parrots pass away from dehydration before their underlying illness can be addressed. That is why it is so important to identify the signs of dehydration in parrots so you can help them get rehydrated as quickly as possible. 

Signs Of Dehydration In Parrots

Dehydration in parrots occurs either due to excessive fluid loss or from inadequate intake. If your parrot is dehydrated, it may seem sick and show various symptoms. Here are some ways you can check if your parrot is dehydrated:

Sunken Eyes

This can be a sign of severe dehydration. It occurs when there is a decrease in the amount of tissue or fluid around the eyes. Because the body does not have enough water, it may draw fluids away from less vital areas, such as the tissues around the eyes. The eyelids may appear swollen when the parrot closes its eyes. 

Dry Mouth 

A dry mouth or the absence of saliva is another common symptom of dehydration. Because the parrot, its mouth will appear visibly dry. You may also notice the parrot opening its beak frequently like its panting.  

Reduced Elasticity Of The Skin 

Adequate hydration helps keep the skin cells healthy, contributing to their elasticity. On the other hand, under dehydration, the body conserves water by reducing its availability to the skin cells affecting their turgidity. However, even though reduced skin elasticity is a common symptom, it is often not the best way to check for dehydration in parrots because of their fragile bodies. 

Low Blood Pressure 

Water plays a role in maintaining critical body functions, including the circulation of blood. When the parrot is dehydrated, it can lead to a drop in blood pressure causing hypovolemia. You can check if your parrot has low blood flow around the body by pressing on its wing. 

Gently press your finger against your parrot’s basilic wing vein and then remove the pressure. This stops the blood supply in that region in the immediate moment turning the color to white.

In a well-hydrated parrot, that area of the wing will return to its normal reddish-pink color almost instantly. whereas in parrots that may be dehydrated, you will see the capillaries take noticeably longer to refill. 


Since birds don’t have sweat glands, panting is their natural way to keep the heat down. Panting helps parrots stay cool in high temperatures by evaporating moisture from their respiratory system. If too much moisture is lost, it can lead to dehydration

Changes In Poop Consistency 

During dehydration, you may notice that your parrot’s droppings become infrequent. Dehydration in some cases can also lead to constipation in parrots as water is an important factor in making the fecal matter move through the digestive tract. Another thing you may find is the droppings are smaller and more dry. 


A dehydrated parrot may also display signs of tiredness because the body is not functioning as it should be from the lack of fluids. It may appear weak, inactive, and less responsive to its surroundings.

Fluffed Feathers 

Parrots fluff up their feathers for many reasons but they may do this occasionally or for a short while such as when they’re feeling cold. A parrot that is fluffed up all day could indicate an underlying illness.

Sitting On The Cage Floor 

A parrot sitting at the bottom of the cage is an indication that the bird is sick. In some cases, dehydration may not be a problem of its own but rather a symptom of an underlying health condition. If your parrot is not eating or drinking and spends most of its time sleeping on the cage floor, it may be sick. 

What Causes Dehydration In Parrots?

A parrot can become dehydrated when there is excessive fluid loss from its body or when it is not drinking adequately enough. Fluid loss can happen because of various reasons, such as high temperatures, respiratory evaporation, or diarrhea.

On the other hand, insufficient fluid intake may result from factors like accessibility to water, stale water, reduced appetite, or certain illnesses. Both scenarios pose risks to a parrot’s hydration and need to be monitored carefully.  Here are the causes of dehydration in parrots: 


Parrots and other birds do not have sweat glands which means that water cannot directly escape their body. But the absence of sweat glands also decreases their tolerance to heat. Parrots have adapted to regulate their body temperatures by losing water through evaporation from their respiratory system. 

The structure of their nasal passages helps them conserve water and heat from the air they breathe out when it isn’t too hot. However, this mechanism may not tolerate extreme temperatures and can cause parrots to lose moisture quickly, leading to dehydration.  


Fluid loss can be a greater concern if your parrot has diarrhea. Parrots lose most of their body’s water through their droppings. So when they poop more frequently or the droppings have a watery consistency, they can lose more fluids than normal. However, it may not cause dehydration if your parrot is consuming sufficient water throughout the day. 

Electrolyte Imbalance

Electrolyte imbalances can also lead to dehydration in parrots and are often influenced by their diet. Parrots have a different balance of electrolytes in their system compared to other animals. They need much lower amounts of sodium than potassium. Too much sodium can even be harmful to parrots. 

So when a parrot’s diet lacks a balanced intake of electrolytes, particularly an excessive amount of sodium and too little potassium, it can disrupt the body’s electrolyte balance. Having diarrhea or running poop can off-put the balance of electrolytes even further as the body loses fluids during excretion.  

All-Seed Diet 

An all-seed diet essentially lacks many important nutrients, including potassium, and has higher amounts of sodium which can contribute to electrolyte imbalances in parrots. Seeds are also high in fat. Therefore, solely having your parrot on seeds can lead to other deficiencies as well.


Many times, dehydration is a symptom of an underlying health issue or infection. Respiratory problems can be a cause of dehydration in parrots.  

Can Parrots Die Of Dehydration?

Parrots die of dehydration more commonly than the health condition that caused it. Dehydration is a serious issue that affects a parrot’s bodily function to the core. It can affect a parrot in many ways including its digestive health, normal function of the kidneys, the circulation of blood, and heart function. Parrots need to drink water every day, and if they remain dehydrated for too long, it can be fatal for their health. 

How To Rehydrate A Parrot?

If you suspect that your parrot is dehydrated, the first thing you should do is to try and get it to drink some water. You can mix some fruit juice in the water if it seems to refuse to drink. Offering fleshy fruits can also work as the water those foods contain may be enough to get the parrot’s fluid levels back up. A pedialyte solution may also be a good idea.

Fluid Therapy 

Dehydration can be taxing on a parrot’s body and home remedies may not work if the bird is sick. If you feel your parrot is ill, contact an avian vet immediately. 

Parrots that are severely dehydrated are treated with fluid therapy. These fluids are administered intravenously through a tube or by mouth depending on the condition of the parrot. They are given slowly, either under light anesthesia or with numbing medicine on the skin.

To figure out how much fluid a bird needs, the vet can estimate how dehydrated the bird is and calculate the amount accordingly. After the parrot has been given fluid therapy, it would require supportive care and rest for a few days.

How To Prevent Dehydration In Parrots?

Dehydration is not easy to detect in parrots. The symptoms you may find, a lot of the times will overlap with other illnesses. This is why, it is always recommended that you seek veterinary help whenever your bird seems ill. 

However, you can prevent your parrot from getting dehydrated if you take the necessary precautions. Here are some tips to take better care of your parrot’s hydration needs:

  • Provide them with fresh water at all times
  • Monitor the consistency of their droppings 
  • Include fruits in their diet 
  • Ensure optimum temperatures around the house
  • Give a balanced diet that is low in sodium and high in potassium 
  • Do not keep the parrot’s cage under direct sunlight
Dorson Joseph
Dorson Joseph

I'm Dorson, a bird enthusiast who's had a lifelong fascination for the avian world. I am a parent to my beloved Senegal parrot and budgie, which has deepened my love for avian creatures and taught me a lot over the years. I co-run a bird store and care center with my friends, where we work with experienced professionals to care for our flock. Now, I find great joy in sharing my knowledge with others, hoping to assist fellow bird keepers and enthusiasts in understanding birds and helping them live happy lives.

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