Parrot fluffed up feathers

Diarrhea In Parrots: Causes And Treatment

Diarrhea is one of the most common stomach-related issues in parrots. It is characterized by loose or watery poop, however, it is often confused with poluria which is an excess of urine content in the droppings. 

Because parrots expel waste and urine at the same time, it can be difficult to distinguish between diarrhea and polyuria without taking a proper look at the droppings. 

True diarrhea is when the fecal matter in the droppings is not well-formed and the poop has a watery consistency. It is different from polyuria which is the presence of more urine and urates in the parrot’s droppings.  

In most cases, when a parrot has diarrhea, it is caused by dietary issues and usually improves within a day. Dietary changes such as consuming too many watery foods or spoiled food can upset the parrot’s digestion, resulting in diarrhea. However, if the diarrhea persists for more than a day, it may suggest underlying health problems.

Understanding Normal Parrot Droppings

Parrot droppings consist of three main components: feces, urine, and urate. The appearance and consistency of parrot droppings change based on factors such as diet, hydration levels, and health so it is crucial to understand what normal parrot poop looks like:

Fecal Matter

The feces portion is the solid waste material expelled from the parrot’s digestive system. It typically has an olive color and has a firm and well-formed mass.


The urine component of the droppings is usually clear and watery, often absorbed by the surrounding feces


The urates are typically white or off-white, pasty compounds found in the feces. Urates are composed of uric acid and are excreted as a semi-solid waste product. The presence of distinct urates in the droppings is a characteristic feature of avian droppings and a unique mechanism to conserve water.

Difference Between Diarrhea And Polyuria

It can be difficult to tell the difference between true diarrhea and polyuria in parrots because the symptoms can look similar. True diarrhea means the poop is loose and watery, while polyuria means there’s more pee in the droppings.

It’s important to get a proper diagnosis from a veterinarian to find out about the underlying cause. This helps in providing the right treatment for the parrot. Getting the right diagnosis quickly is important to keep the parrot healthy and prevent any further issues. That being said, polyuria is not a common condition in parrots and poses serious health risks.  

Sun conure sitting in cage

What Causes Diarrhea In Parrots

Diarrhea can be caused by many different factors. Generally, it is not a concerning matter if diarrhea resolves itself within 24 hours. But if it lasts longer than that, it can be a sign of an underlying health problem. Here are the possible causes of diarrhea in parrots:

Dietary Changes

Sudden changes in the diet or poor choice of food are often the most common cause of acute (short-term) diarrhea in parrots. Many foods that we eat are not fit for parrots and can upset their sensitive stomachs.

Foods that are high in sugar, sodium, and lactose, or those containing additives and preservatives can cause GI issues like diarrhea in parrots.

Most parrots are lactose intolerant and can have diarrheic reactions to dairy. They are also not capable of handling high amounts of sugar and sodium.

Sometimes excessive consumption of certain fruits can also cause watery poop in parrots and give the impression of diarrhea.

Foods That Can Cause Diarrhea In Parrots:

  • Dairy products 
  • Sugar 
  • Salty snacks
  • Junk food
  • Water-rich foods like watermelon


Stress can sometimes be the cause of diarrhea in parrots, especially when if they have recently been through a stressful event and feel scared or anxious. They may also feel negatively about new things or changes in their environment.

However, this type of diarrhea only lasts for a short time and it’s generally not too concerning. But if diarrhea continues for more than 1 or 2 days, it can pose various health risks for the parrot such as dehydration and weakness. Diarrhea for a longer duration can also potentially lead to the loss of important minerals in the body. 

Infections (Bacterial, Fungal, Viral)

Parrots can contract infections in many ways. Fungal and bacterial infections are seen quite commonly in pet birds. Yeast and bacterial infections are commonly caused by eating old or rotten foods.

You should never keep fruits and vegetables inside your parrot’s cage longer than a few hours. They likely will not finish them but it is a good idea to remove the fruits to prevent your bird from eating rotten food. 

Enteritis (Intestinal Inflammation)

Enteritis in parrots is a condition where their intestines become inflamed. It can happen for many reasons. Parrots with enteritis may have symptoms like diarrhea, weight loss, loss of appetite, and lethargy. 

Intestinal Parasites 

Common intestinal parasites in parrots include worms like roundworms, tapeworms, and hookworms. These parasites can be acquired through contaminated food, water, or exposure to infected birds.

When parrots are infected, they may show symptoms such as weight loss, diarrhea, poor feather quality, and a general decline in their overall health. Such health conditions can cause parrot droppings to have a foul odor.  

Heavy Metal Toxicosis

Heavy metal toxicity in parrots occurs mainly from the ingestion of household objects including blinds, jewelry, mirror backings, metal toys, curtain weights, etc. When a bird ingests a heavy metal like zinc or lead, it breaks down in its stomach and slowly spreads into its digestive system and bloodstream. 

Lead poisoning affects many important processes in birds’ bodies. The signs of lead poisoning can vary depending on how much lead they have ingested and may include loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, weakness, and diarrhea.

How To Treat Diarrhea In Parrots

Diarrhea does not resolve quickly in parrots and if not treated it can have negative consequences for the bird’s health. This is why, it is always better to call an avian vet first.

However, in mild cases of diarrhea, home remedies can work. If only some of your parrot’s droppings appear diarrheic and they don’t seem to be ill, you can treat diarrhea by following this method:  

Home Care

Water-rich foods can contribute to the already loose stool and increase the risk of dehydration. So you should avoid giving them any kind of watery food for some time and move them to a pelleted diet.

In case you recently made some changes in their diet, it is advisable to put them back on the previous diet. you should introduce new foods slowly so your parrot’s stomach can adjust to them. 

In the meantime,  offer foods that are easy to digest and less likely to worsen diarrhea, like cooked rice, pellets, or cooked sweet potatoes.

These foods can provide some nourishment while being gentle on the parrot’s digestive system. Also, make sure the parrot has enough fresh water in its cage. 

Seek Veterinary Help

There are so many possible causes for diarrhea that a proper diagnosis is always required. It can be challenging to pinpoint the exact cause of diarrhea based on symptoms alone, as different factors such as diet, stress, infections, or underlying health issues can contribute to the condition. 

An avian veterinarian can assess the condition by conducting thorough testing and accurately diagnosing the specific cause of diarrhea. This can help provide appropriate treatment to address the underlying issue. 

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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