Panting in Racing Pigeons-When is it Normal and When is it Not Part 2

In studying the process of respiratory panting as a part of the disease process, we need to know that, compared to humans, a racing pigeons ability for the respiratory tract to heal after infection or injury is considerably reduced. While most panting in birds is a normal and necessary function, panting can also be a sign of a respiratory infection.

When a pigeon has a respiratory infection, the air sacs become inflamed. This inflammation impairs the evaporation of moisture from the air sac lining. This can impact the bird’s overall hydration, leading to dehydration or overheating.

With a respiratory infection, if too much moisture is lost, the bird becomes dehydrated. On the other hand, if the air sac inflammation inhibits the moisture evaporation, the bird becomes overheated. Either condition will lead to prolonged or protracted panting.

If the abnormal panting continues, there is inadequate oxygen to the bird’s tissues. This not only impairs racing, it also leads to muscle cramping. Panting in the presence of underlying disease has deleterious effects on the bird’s endurance. If you notice panting and reduced racing performance in your bird, look for other symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as watery, red eyes, swollen sinuses, nasal discharge and sneezing. Treat your bird as necessary.

Panting in Young Birds

In the post-weaning phase of the young bird, fanciers may notice panting and a reluctance to fly in the loft.  While these could be signs of a respiratory infection, there are other ‘normal’ factors that may result in panting.

One factor that may be at play is the fact that the weather is often hot at this time of year and the young bird simply lacks the physical fitness to handle the stress of the weather and flight.  In addition, moulting is usually occurring, which, again, can increase the effort needed for flying.

But, once again, if there are accompanying signs of a respiratory infection, get a veterinarian to perform a health check. Be aware that signs of a respiratory infection may be somewhat subtle. This is especially true in older youth because some natural immunity be present. The subtle signs you may observe is panting along with a slight decrease in flying in a team that had previously been flying the loft well. If you notice sneezing in your older youngsters, that is a pretty reliable sign of a low-grade sinus irritation.