Allergic bird: Tips for human pet allergy sufferers

This article discusses how allergy sufferers can keep pet birds.


People with allergies to other animals often do not realize that they can be allergic to birds, as well. They buy a sweet, hand-fed baby or a few finches and don’t realize the new pets are causing their allergies to worsen. By the time an allergy sufferer realizes he is allergic to the new pet, he is often too attached to the new pet to give it up. The good news is that birds are easier for allergy sufferers to enjoy than some other pets.

The simplest thing an allergy sufferer can do is to buy a good air filter. These filters really help clear the dander from the air. However, the bird should never sit in a draft caused by air circulating from the filter, since this could cause the bird to get sick. Also, don’t put the filter so close to your bird that his skin dries out. This is especially important if your bird has a problem with plucking his feathers.

Next, make sure your bird’s cage stays clean. Have someone else do this work, if possible. If you are the only person who can change the cage, wear a protective dust mask. You should change papers daily and hose down the cage weekly, if at all possible. If you can’t completely hose the cage down, wipe off any dander, dust, or grime on the bars with a damp cloth. Make sure you thoroughly wash down the tray and then let it dry. Trays can actually develop mold in or under them, which could trigger a whole new set of allergies.  

Your bird should also stay clean. Offer a dish for bathing, and be sure to change the dish frequently. Some birds prefer being misted with a spray bottle. Never re-use a bottle that once held chemicals, cleaning agents, or anything else unsafe. The spray bottle should be dedicated to your pet. Make sure you mist your bird in the warmest part of the day and keep him out of drafts or breezes.

As you feed your bird, you may notice that the seed has particles of dust and irritates your allergies. You should try to switch your bird to pellets, which contains less allergens and is better for your bird’s health. Most pellet manufacturers give detailed instructions on gradually switching your bird to pellets.

Finally, you may want to switch your bird to a new cage. There are several cage manufacturers who make acrylic cages. Ideally, you should put your bird in the acrylic cage as soon as the breeder weans him, since many breeders keep baby birds in aquariums and they are already used to having clear walls. If your bird is used to being in a cage with bars, make sure you gradually introduce him to the new acrylic cage. Let him play on top of the cage and make sure a favorite treat is sitting there. Cover several of the walls with a towel or sheet so your bird doesn’t feel as vulnerable. Make sure you move all of his familiar toys to the new cage as well.

If you follow all of these steps to help reduce allergies, you and your bird should be able to be happy companions for years to come.