Why is My Parakeet Breathing Fast?

How to take Care of a Parakeet Beginners Guide to Pet Birds

These small, colourful birds are known for their playful antics and cheerful chirps, making them a popular choice for avian lovers. As attentive caretakers, we strive to ensure our parakeets lead happy and healthy lives.

However, one concern that can leave us perplexed and anxious is observing our feathered friend breathing rapidly.

Why is My Parakeet Breathing Fast?

Fast breathing in parakeets can be an indicator of an underlying issue, but it’s essential to understand the potential causes before taking any action.

1. Stress and Anxiety

Just like humans, parakeets can experience stress and anxiety. Common stressors include changes in their environment, new cage mates, loud noises, or even too much handling. Rapid breathing can be a response to these stressors.

2. Physical Activity

Parakeets are active birds. Engaging in energetic play, flying around their cage, or exercising on their perches can cause them to breathe faster temporarily. This is a normal part of their daily routine.

3. Temperature Extremes

Extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, can affect a parakeet’s respiratory rate. They may breathe faster in an attempt to regulate their body temperature. Ensure their environment is comfortable and well-regulated.

4. Illness or Disease

Respiratory problems, infections, or diseases like avian respiratory distress syndrome can lead to rapid breathing in parakeets.

If you notice other signs of illness, such as lethargy, discharge from the beak or eyes, or changes in appetite, consult a veterinarian promptly.

5. Allergies and Irritants

Parakeets can be sensitive to allergens or irritants in their environment, such as perfumes, cigarette smoke, or certain cleaning products. Rapid breathing might be their way of reacting to these irritants.

6. Mating or Breeding Behavior

During the breeding season or when parakeets are engaged in courtship behaviour, their breathing rate may increase. This is a natural response to hormonal changes.

7. Age and General Health

Older parakeets may breathe faster due to age-related changes in their respiratory system. Additionally, overall health, diet, and hydration can influence a parakeet’s breathing rate.

8. Territorial or Defensive Behavior

Sometimes, parakeets may breathe faster when they feel threatened or are protecting their territory. This can occur when a new bird is introduced to the cage or during conflicts with cage mates.

Ways to Prevent and Recover from Heavy Breathing in Parakeets

Heavy breathing in parakeets can be a cause for concern, and it’s crucial to know how to prevent it and aid in their recovery if it occurs.

1. Provide a Comfortable and Stress-Free Environment:

Parakeets are sensitive birds, and stress can contribute to heavy breathing. Ensure they have a safe and peaceful environment with minimal disturbances.

Consider using products like quiet cage covers to reduce external noises.

2. Maintain Proper Cage Hygiene

Regularly clean your parakeet’s cage to prevent the buildup of dust, mould, and bacteria. Use bird-safe cage cleaning products to keep the environment clean and healthy.

3. Control Temperature and Humidity

Parakeets are sensitive to temperature extremes. Maintain a comfortable temperature range (typically 65-80°F or 18-27°C) and humidity level in their living area. Use a digital thermometer and hygrometer to monitor conditions.

4. Provide Fresh and Clean Water

Dehydration can lead to heavy breathing. Ensure your parakeet has access to clean, fresh water at all times. Consider using a bird water dispenser to prevent contamination.

5. Offer a Balanced Diet

A well-balanced diet is essential for your parakeet’s overall health. Provide a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and high-quality parakeet pellets to meet their nutritional needs.

6. Avoid Harmful Substances

Keep your parakeet away from tobacco smoke, strong perfumes, and other harmful fumes or chemicals that can irritate their respiratory system.

7. Encourage Exercise

Parakeets need regular exercise to stay healthy. Provide toys, perches, and a spacious cage for them to move around. Products like interactive toys and swings can help keep them active.

8. Regular Vet Check-Ups

Schedule routine check-ups with an avian veterinarian to monitor your parakeet’s health. Early detection of any respiratory issues can prevent them from worsening.

9. Quarantine New Birds

If you introduce a new parakeet to your flock, quarantine them for a few weeks to ensure they are healthy and not carrying any contagious diseases.

10. Maintain Proper Humidification

Use a humidifier in your parakeet’s room to maintain the ideal humidity level. This can help prevent dry air from irritating their respiratory tract.

11. Consider Air Purifiers

High-quality air purifiers with HEPA filters can help remove airborne pollutants, allergens, and dust from your parakeet’s living space.

12. Be Prepared for Emergencies

Have an avian first aid kit on hand, including essentials like an avian nebulizer to administer medications if necessary. Consult your vet for guidance on emergency care.

How Can I Monitor My Parakeet’s Breathing Rate at Home?

baby parakeet budgie free flying

Like any pet, it’s essential to keep an eye on their health. One crucial aspect of their well-being is their breathing rate. Monitoring your parakeet’s breathing rate at home can help you detect potential health issues early.

1. Gather the Necessary Supplies

Before you begin, gather the following supplies:

  • Quiet Environment: Find a quiet, well-lit area where your parakeet is comfortable and relaxed.
  • A Watch or Timer: You’ll need a timer to count the breaths per minute (BPM).
  • Notepad and Pen: Keep track of the BPM and any observations.
  • Your Parakeet: Ensure your bird is calm and perched comfortably.

2. Observe Your Parakeet

Start by watching your parakeet closely. Observe its behaviour, posture, and breathing for a few minutes.

Healthy parakeets should have a smooth and consistent breathing pattern, with minimal effort. They should not appear agitated or stressed.

3. Count the Breaths

Once your parakeet is calm, count the number of breaths it takes in one minute. To do this, watch its chest rise and fall and count each breath. You can also count for 15 seconds and multiply by four to get the BPM.

4. Record the Results

Write down the BPM in your notepad. Repeat this process a few times at different times of the day and on different days to establish a baseline for your parakeet’s normal breathing rate.

5. Recognize Abnormalities

Now that you have a baseline, it’s essential to recognize any deviations. If you notice a significant increase in breathing rate or any laboured breathing, it could indicate a health issue. Here are some signs of abnormal breathing:

  • Rapid, shallow breaths
  • Open-mouthed breathing
  • Tail bobbing with each breath
  • Wheezing or clicking sounds

6. Take Action

If you notice any abnormal breathing patterns or signs of distress, it’s crucial to consult an avian veterinarian promptly.

Early detection and treatment can make a significant difference in your parakeet’s health.

Recommended Products:

  • Digital Timer or Stopwatch: A digital timer or stopwatch is handy for accurately measuring the BPM. Consider using a smartphone timer app.
  • Thermometer and Humidity Monitor: Temperature and humidity can affect your parakeet’s breathing. Maintain a suitable environment with a thermometer and humidity monitor.
  • Bird Scale: Regularly weighing your parakeet can help monitor its overall health. Look for a bird scale designed for small parrots like budgerigars.
  • Bird Health Guidebook: Invest in a comprehensive bird health guidebook or consult reputable online resources to understand various health concerns in parakeets.


From environmental factors to underlying health issues, rapid breathing in parakeets can be a sign that something isn’t quite right. Your parakeet relies on you to be its advocate and caregiver, so it’s essential to be observant and proactive in monitoring its health.

Remember that a baseline understanding of your parakeet’s normal breathing rate is your first line of defence. Regular observations, along with counting breaths per minute, can help you detect deviations from the norm early on.

If you do notice abnormal breathing patterns or signs of distress, don’t hesitate to consult an avian veterinarian. Professional expertise is invaluable in ensuring your parakeet receives the appropriate care and treatment it needs.

Written by Justin Michaels

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