Respiratory Disease Checklist

Respiratory Disease Checklist

The Common Signs of Respiratory Disease in Racing Pigeons are:

  • Panting after flying.
  • Sneezing
  • Loft flying decreases
  • Race losses
  • Eye and nostril discharge
  • Swollen cere and sinus
  • Stretching of neck and swallowing
  • Yawning

The top race performance requires perfect health and fitness.
Performance relates directly to the efficiency of the respiratory and circulation systems to provide the dramatic increase in energy requirements for flight. For example, during normal loft flying the pigeon increases its oxygen consumption fifteen fold and when flying into a head wind the oxygen consumption increases by up to 30 times. These massive energy burdens can only be supported by good health and fitness.

A Check List For Respiratory Disease

Examine the nostril
Any discharge appearing at the nostril (be it watery, tacky or snotty) when applying sideways pressure to the wattle reflects a health problem of the nasal cavity.

Check inside the mouth
The nasal cavity connects with the mouth in an area we refer to as the choanal slit. Many fanciers look at this area during the racing season. A narrowing of the “slit” when there is infection of the nasal cavity accurately reflects the inflammation present throughout the upper airways. Obviously, inflammation in this area will affect the heat and water conservation functions of the nasal cavity and lower competitive performance. The converse is also true and I agree with the fanciers, who believe that a fully open “slit” is a sign of a bird in top form.

Panting after exercise
When a respiratory infection inflames the nasal cavity and upper airways the pigeon is less able to control the considerable heat production generated during flight. With certain respiratory infections the first sign noticed is panting after or during exercise. Panting is a mechanism which sheds excess heat rapidly. A fluttering motion in the neck (a form of panting) may also be seen in the overheated pigeon (this is called gular fluttering). Unfortunately both water and heat are lost with panting.

I often see panting when training birds land after a short toss. These birds are healthy but not yet in top condition or are in the moult and have short flights. Because panting is a mechanism to alleviate overheating, we see it in exercising birds on hot days. When panting is noticed within the loft on very hot days efforts to cool the loft must be taken. Special attention to temperature control within the transporters is essential for the health of the race birds.

We also see panting in unfit birds exercising early in the morning, late evenings or tightly around the loft. It is important for the fancier to differentiate between panting in the healthy pigeon and that caused by respiratory infections.

Respiratory disease involving both the lungs and airsac systems seriously impairs flying performance not only because of the failure of the oxygen delivery system but because the energy systems (liver, muscle etc) are also affected. Disease of the airsac system alone reduces performance because both the delivery of oxygen and the removal of waste products are impaired. The resultant cramping muscles make it impossible for the pigeon to fly.

Also see Panting in Racing Pigeons

Respiratory Disease Checklist by Dr. Rob Marshall

The Leading Online Pigeon Racing and Racing Pigeons Magazine – The Pigeon Insider

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59 thoughts on “Respiratory Disease Checklist

  1. Hi Chris,
    With great interest I read your article about Respiratory problems, very interesting. But please let me add to it. Over feeding will result to overweight birds, leading to less flying, and panting during loft training. Also, If a pigeon scatters around in the loft before catching it, most often it will have a red mouth and slit for a while in handling, due to exited, also may pant. One may think there is a respiratory problem and starts giving medicines, leading to more problems…..

  2. Hi Chris very good article but i do not believe you shouldn’t treat your pigeons every time there sick
    young birds are like small children you don’t treat them every time they are sick but i do believe
    that there health has to be !00% before you start training and during the races Brad.

  3. Hi, its alot easier if you paint the interior of the loft white, you can see yellow snot above the perches when they sneeze, sure sign of respiratory disease

  4. Its very hard to distinguish respiratory unless its obvious like sneezing,one eye cold, discharge from nostril and etc. coz some never show sign unless put to stress , panting is one that also mislead us unless you have a packed of pigeon exercising then you can compare which is the least and the worse panting , but for me panting is always a suspect unless that pigeon is kept prison for a long time

  5. Respiratory. What medication would prefer for my racing birds. As they were dewormed and had cancer medication. Gave them furasol for three days but still has the problem.


    2. Hi Mary Doxy Ty is very good for respiratory problems use one teaspoon per gallon of water
      for five days if its bad you can go seven to ten days after use a good vitamin for pigeons in
      there water with a probiotic like Primalac in the water for five days let your water sit over night also add one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with the antibiotic it makes the water
      acidic and they drink it better.

  6. Hello , I have been battling respiratory problems with 4 birds , been giving them Doxy , thought they were on the mend until yesterday 2 relapsed and of those 2 , 1 is struggling . I am also using Tylosine and Avi-Dox in their water . I am considering giving Metronidazolum in case we have canker down deep . Any suggestions ? This what started out as a one eye cold has really caught me off guard , just glad I have the right medicines on hand . Any input ?

  7. Hi guys i find that panting pigeons are not always resportary it could be its to hot.I liketo see more information regarding resportary, how to find the simptions in the loft also what medication to use. i think there is different medication depending where you live on the globe.

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