Panting in Racing Pigeons-When is it Normal and When is it Not Part 3

What to Expect in the Health Check

When your veterinarian does the health check, he will do both a fecal smear and a crop flush. Examining the fecal smear microscopically, the vet is looking for signs of parasites, such as worms or coccidia. Parasites like these will reduce the energy of the young bird, compromising in the long-term, growth and development and, in the short-term, exercise tolerance. This low tolerance can cause the bird to pant.

The contents from the crop flush are examined for wet canker and heterophils, which will be present in inflammation. Heterophils are the white blood cells from the lining of the inflamed sinus and windpipe.

Treatment of Respiratory Infections in Young Pigeons

Should the vet discover a respiratory infection at this stage, it is often not treated. Respiratory infections are usually caused by chlamydia and mycoplasma. In order to encourage natural immunity to these organisms, the vet will choose to let the bird fight it off.  If the respiratory infection has progressed to the point of compromising the growth and development of the bird, the vet will usually opt to treat. Of course, any parasitic disease is treated.

Any treatment program that you do initiate should be one that supports and encourages a strong and natural immunity in the young bird. You will want this in place by the beginning of the racing season so the bird can withstand the high-level of stress and the exposure to multiple diseases.

Most definitely, provide good care at all times and maintain a dry and clean loft.  Always provide nutritional support and digestive health. An excellent resource you may want to include in your library is the “Flying Vet’s Pigeon Health and Management” by Dr. Colin Walker.

To summarize, panting in your young birds is usually the result of:

  • Moulting
  • Hot weather
  • Lack of physical fitness
  • Overweight

To verify this, handle your bird to determine if overweight, flabby muscles or moulting is present.  And try exercising your birds during the cooler part of the day to see if the panting is indeed heat related.

In the next part of this article series on panting, we will take a look at panting and aerobic exercise in the health and fit racing pigeon.