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Why Is My Cockatiel Repeatedly Sneezing?

If you are an avid keeper of birds, you will always be watching your flock for any signs of illness among its members, and if you see a cockatiel sneezing, you may be justifiably concerned.

Birds excel when it comes to hiding signs of illness (as a survival mechanism) and that means it can be hard to be on top of illnesses and treat them promptly enough to save the bird.

Looking out for signs like sneezing can help to address this issue and increase the chances of your birds staying healthy.

It’s particularly important if you keep multiple birds, because many illnesses are highly contagious and will spread through a flock with speed.

Isolating sick birds and treating them fast is crucial if you want your birds to stay healthy, and it’s a good idea to have a “hospital cage” specifically for isolation if possible.

This can also solve issues if one of your birds is being picked on, allowing you to separate it and deal with the problem.

However, you may be wondering if sneezing is really a big deal – after all, humans sneeze without being sick pretty often. How worrying is this symptom and how quickly do you need to act on it?

Being proactive is good, but you don’t want to unnecessarily isolate and treat a cockatiel that isn’t actually ill, so it’s important to consider the context it’s sneezing in.

Why Is My Cockatiel Repeatedly Sneezing?

If your cockatiel is repeatedly sneezing, there are three common explanations: it is ill, it has a vitamin A deficiency, or it has got something up its nose and it is trying to dislodge it.

These are all common issues that bird owners encounter, and sneezing due to dust or irritants happens more than you might expect, especially if you use cleaning sprays or you smoke in your house.

However, you shouldn’t dismiss regular sneezing as “just dust,” because it could be a lot more serious than that.

Many birds, including cockatiels, are vulnerable to respiratory infections, and sneezing is often an early sign that your bird is sick.

You should look out for any colored discharge around its eyes and nostrils, and check whether it is lethargic or disinterested in its food; these signs will all indicate that the bird is unwell, not just irritated by something in the air.

Even if you determine that the sneezing is due to an irritant, not an illness, you need to take action, because it means that your bird’s environment is not ideal.

You don’t want your cockatiel to be constantly trying to free its nose from dust, chemicals, and other irritants, because this will contribute to stress and could lower the overall health of your cockatiel. If you think something is irritating your bird’s sinuses, try to address the problem.

Is It OK If My Cockatiel Sneezes?

This really depends on the context in which the cockatiel sneezes and the frequency with which it happens; a single sneezing fit that turns out to be an isolated incident is totally fine and nothing to worry about.

However, persistent sneezing fits, or even just regular single sneezes throughout the day should concern you, because they indicate that there is a problem, especially if you can see any other signs that the bird is unwell.

A sneeze could indicate that something is serious, or could mean nothing more than that the room is a little dusty or a feather has gone up your cockatiel’s nose.

If you notice your cockatiel sneezing, it’s a good idea to run through a checklist of the things that could cause this, such as whether you have recently cleaned (throwing dust into the air), either in the room or in the bird’s cage.

You should also think about whether you have sprayed any chemicals, lit scented candles, or smoked near your bird, as these actions may have caused it to sneeze. Really dry air in your home may also be problematic, and can contribute to sneezing fits.

Examining your bird will further help you determine whether it is okay or not; get it out of its cage and inspect its eyes and beak. If its eyes look clear and it is alert and engaged, it is probably okay, but you should keep a closer eye on it over the next few days.

How Can I Treat A Cockatiel That Is Sneezing?

The treatment will depend on what is causing the sneezing, but if your bird is sick, you will need to take it to a vet, rather than trying to treat it yourself at home.

Cockatiels can suffer from serious respiratory infections, and if this is the cause of the sneezing, you may need antibiotics or another prescription medication to get your bird healthy again.

Don’t wait to see if the symptoms clear up on their own; your bird might die surprisingly quickly.

If your cockatiel is sneezing because of irritants, you’ll have plenty more options that will help you deal with this issue, especially if you can determine what the source of the irritation is.

If you can’t, there are still things you can do, such as moving your bird into a different room while you clean, and using a damp cloth to wipe down surfaces, as this will throw less dust into the air.

It’s also a good idea to check that your cockatiel is getting a balanced, high quality diet, as a vitamin A deficiency can occasionally contribute to nasal discharge, which could result in sneezing. Giving it a vitamin boost may restore it to full health.


You should never ignore a cockatiel sneezing, because although this is a fairly normal process for these birds, it can be a sign that your cockatiel is sick or something in the environment is bothering it. If your bird sneezes more than a couple of times a day or has prolonged fits of sneezing, you should assess its environment, and consider taking your cockatiel to a vet. Prompt action is often key to restoring the bird to health.