Like other animals, cockatoos can get infected with intestinal worms. These are also called ascarids or roundworms. These worms live in the stomach and intestines and use up part of the food inside the digestive tract. They generally do not damage or hurt the intestines, but some species of worms do. Some rare worm species also occur inside the lungs of cockatoos.
Worms can cause weight loss and sometimes diarrhea. Strong birds can handle a worm infection, but cockatoos that are old, sick or have a low immune function can loose so much weight that they die.
Infection with intestinal roundworms
A cockagtoo can get infected with worms by any other bird that carries these worms with them. The worms reproduce by tiny eggs that are spread in the environment by feces. The eggs can survive cold, drought and warm temperatures. Too much of either will kill them off though. Your cockatoo can accidentally ingest the eggs because some feces gets into his food or on his body, where he will clean it from him with his beak.
Do not let your cockatoo in contact with wild birds, birds that go forage outside (like chickens) or with cockatoos or parrots of which you don’t know if they have worms.
Testing for worms in cockatoos
Generally you won’t notice worm infection in your cockatoo. Only when the infection gets really bad you will notices worms in the feces.
A vet can easily check for worms in your cockatoo, simply by studying its feces. You can collect fresh droppings from your bird and send them to the vet. He or a laboratory technician will check with a microscope for worm eggs in the sample.
Treatment of worms in cockatoos
Worms are easily cured by a medicine containing pyrantel pamoate, piperazine, fenbendazole or ivermectin. A vet will choose the best medicine and can give it to you. You have to administer the drug through the drinking water or by directly dripping it into the beak of your cockatoo. Often you need to repeat the treatment once. You need to disinfect the entire cage and all toys at the same time as administering the medication. Otherwise your cockatoo will ingest the eggs that are present in the environment and will get infected again. A steam cleaner is the most effective way to sterilize the cage and all toys and perches.
Never administer a anti-worm drug to your cockatoo without having its feces checked for worm eggs.