Why Is My Parakeet Breathing Fast?

parakeet fast breathing

This is a scary and unfortunate situation to find yourself in with your Parakeet, as a few reasons can cause this issue. Some of these reasons are infestations of certain mites, diseases, infections of their respiratory systems, malnutrition, stress, tumors, accidental poisonings, as well as your Parakeets inhaling respiratory irritants.

Your Parakeet could be breathing fast or suffer respiratory distress for one or more of the following reasons.

  • Mite infestation
  • Disease
  • Respiratory infection
  • Incorrect diet
  • Stress
  • Tumors 
  • Toxins
  • Respiratory irritants

Some of these conditions you can manage; others require vet intervention.

Having your Parakeet breathing fast or heavily can be a scary situation for any bird owner as there are many reasons why this can happen, and it could even be a mixture of things causing it.

But what exactly should we be looking out for in our everyday lives that could be causing this issue for our birds?

What signs and symptoms should we be looking for that will indicate to us that our Parakeets are struggling to breathe? Let us find out.

Why Would My Parakeet Be Breathing Fast? 

Parakeets will begin to breathe fast when they are feeling sick. This fast breathing can be brought on by many things and can appear to happen suddenly. When your Parakeet is breathing fast or has labored breathing, this could indicate that your bird is either feeling sick or is quite stressed.

The reasons that may cause your Parakeet to begin breathing fast include diseases and infestations, respiratory irritants, accidental poisonings, infections, malnutrition leading to a compromised immune system, stress, and even tumors. 

Respiratory irritants that can cause your Parakeet to breathe fast are cigarette smoke, cleaning chemicals, spray cans, aerosols, and incense. If you want to or need to use any of these, you must ensure that your Parakeet is in a different room with good ventilation.

Diseases and infestations that may cause your Parakeet to breathe fast include Mycoplasma, Chlamydophila, and air sac mites, including many more. All these mentioned are incredibly contagious and will quickly spread from bird to bird. So, if one of your Parakeets is being treated for any of these, then your other Parakeets will require treatment too. 

Accidental poisonings can occur, with the most common being Teflon poisoning, which causes a disease called Polymer Fume Fever. This is highly dangerous for all birds and can easily cause fast and heavy breathing and death.  

This Teflon poisoning happens when you overheat a Teflon pot or pan while cooking. To avoid this, keep your Parakeets far away from the kitchen and in a well-ventilated room. 

Infections of the respiratory system in Parakeets can be either fungal or bacterial. A common fungal infection is Aspergillus, which kills thousands of pe Parakeets and other birds every year. These infections are a result of your Parakeet breathing in spores or microbes of different bacteria or fungi,

When this occurs, then it can result in a severe infection causing your Parakeet to breathe fast and heavily. These infections require an immediate visit to the avian vet to be treated with antibiotics or antifungal medications. 

Malnutrition leading to a compromised immunes system is caused if your Parakeet is on a seed-only diet. This can lead to your Parakeet having a vitamin A deficiency, leading to a compromised immune system. This leaves your Parakeet susceptible to many diseases that can cause them to breathe fast. 

If your Parakeet is stressed out because they have been moved to a new location or have been scared, this can cause them to breathe fast. This fast breathing should settle when the bird calms down. To help them relax, place a cover over the roof and three sides of their cage to make them feel safe. You can also play calm, soft music or bird noises to them at a low volume.

Tumors or organ enlargement due to infections can cause respiratory problems in your Parakeet. This is due to the pressure that is created in the respiratory tract of the bird. A common symptom of this is heavy and fast breathing. 

4 Signs Parakeets Show They Have Trouble Breathing 

There are signs that your Parakeet may exhibit if they are struggling to breathe correctly. These signs can be subtle, or they can manifest quite strongly. They can also take days to appear, or they can appear quite rapidly. 

It all depends on the disease and your bird; remember that Parakeets in the wild will be reluctant to show if they are sick as they will be easy targets for predators then. So, you need to monitor your Parakeet’s health closely to ensure that you do not miss anything important that may require fast action and treatment. 

Let us have a better look at a few of the signs you should be on the lookout for that will make your Parakeet breathe fast, and that will require an avian vet visit.

1. The Parakeet Has Nasal Discharge 

Nasal discharge coming from your Parakeets nares is a big sign of something wrong with their respiratory system. This can also cause your Parakeet to breathe fast as their nares are filled with mucus. 

Nasal discharge can be caused by multiple things, including an irritant that they may have breathed in or disease, some of which can be more dangerous than others.

You need to make sure that you check your Parakeet’s nares every day to ensure that they do not show any signs of discharge. You need to note the color of the discharge, as this could prove helpful in the diagnosis of your Parakeet. If nasal discharge is present, you should consult with your nearest avian vet. 

2. The Parakeet Is Gasping And Wheezing

Parakeets should only make minimal sound if any, when they are breathing. So, if this changes and your Parakeet begins to wheeze and gasp when they are breathing, and the breaths are fast, then this can be a sign that your Parakeet may be having trouble with breathing.

If this begins to happen, there can be many reasons why, but it needs to be treated as fast as possible. For this reason, you must watch your Parakeets breathing closely, and if there is any change, you need to act quickly. Sneezing and coughing do generally come with wheezing and gasping, so be on the lookout for those too. 

3. They Bob Their Tails Up And Down

The respiratory system of a bird is very different from ours, even though we breathe the same air. The main difference is that birds do not have a diaphragm to aid in their breathing; this means that their lungs remain open for much of the time. 

So, you may be wondering how a bird breaths without a diaphragm, then? Birds have specialized muscles in their chests that compress the chest, forcing the air into their air sacs. The problem comes when the bird is unable to utilize these muscles. 

If a bird is in distress, this can cause them to lose the use of these muscles. This will, in turn, make them use their posterior muscles to help them breathe. Using these posterior muscles will make their tails bob up and down and require extra effort from your Parakeet, so the breathing will be fast. This is an extreme cause for concern, and you should take your Parakeet to the avian vet as fast as possible. 

4. They Are Breathing With An Open Mouth

Parakeets should always be breathing through their nares. However, suppose their nares get blocked due to mucus accumulation during infection of the respiratory system. In that case, the Parakeet will try to breathe through an open mouth, and this breathing will be fast.

If your Parakeet is doing this, then this is a big sign that you should not take for granted as it means that your Parakeet is not feeling well, and they have an infection somewhere in their respiratory system. This will require fast and immediate action and treatment. 


Seeing your Parakeet struggling to breathe is always a scary experience, as it can mean anything from an easy to treat illness to a possibly deadly tumor.

As the reasons can be so diverse, the only way to really know what is going on is to visit an avian vet. Unless you are sure that your Parakeet is only stressed, in which case, you can easily help your Parakeet calm down by yourself. 

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Donald Bergeson

I have always been fascinated by the skill, strength, and beauty of birds.They help in maintaining a balance of ecological environment. At Best Bird Guide, I share all of my experiences and discoveries that I have got so far and inspire more devoted fans.

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