Q: Chicken illnesses with respiratory symptoms (overview)
A: When your chicken is showing respiratory symptoms, there are a number of chicken illnesses that could be causing the problem. We know how worrisome it can be when a pet chicken is sick!
Respiratory symptoms in chickens can present as wheezing/whistling/rattling breath, watery or bubbly eyes, gasping, sneezing, blocked nares/nostrils, coughing, panting, head shaking (to try to clear the nares/nostrils), swollen face/eyes (indicating some swelling in the sinus passages), coughing blood, choking, and darkened comb/wattles (from not enough air). We've included here a quick overview of the most common chicken illnesses that cause respiratory symptoms, but understand that each illness may have other symptoms not listed here, so please click on the links for more information---and do consult a veterinarian for a firm diagnosis and treatment options.
Chicken illnesses with respiratory symptoms
- Airsacculitis - Symptoms of this chicken illness can include coughing, nasal discharge, difficulty breathing, clogged nares (nostrils), and rattling breath.
- Ascites - Symptoms of this chicken illness can include coughing and labored breath due to fluid retention around the lungs.
- Aspergillosis - Respiratory symptoms of this chicken illness can include discharge from nares (nostrils) and/or eyes, coughing, panting, gasping for air
- Avian Infectious Bronchitis - Respiratory symptoms of this chicken illness can include mucousy eyes or nares. Occasionally swelling of the wattles.
- Avian Influenza - Respiratory symptoms of this chicken illness can include coughing; sneezing; darkened comb/wattles, swelling of the head/eyes, and nasal discharge.
- Coryza - Respiratory symptoms of this chicken illness include wheezing, sneezing, bad-smelling discharge of various colors (often yellow, grey, brown or red) from eyes and nares, facial swelling, or other general respiratory symptoms.
- Fowl Pox (either the wet pox or the dry pox variety) - Respiratory symptoms of this chicken illness can include difficulty breathing, should pox externally obstruct nares or internally obstruct respiratory passages.
- Gapeworm - Gapeworm is a type of worm that infests your chickens' breathing passages. When they get large enough, they can obstruct breathing. Respiratory symptoms can include gasping coughing, head shaking, difficulty breathing, rattling breath. The worms can usually be seen in the throat when large enough to cause breathing difficulties; please take your chicken to a veterinarian immediately.
- Infectious Laryngotracheitis - Respiratory symptoms of this chicken illness can include swollen or watery/mucousy eyes, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, rattling breath, choking, whistling throat, and spitting blood.
- Mycoplasma gallisepticum - Respiratory symptoms of this chicken illness can include wheezing, coughing, sneezing, discharge from nares or eyes, or other general respiratory symptoms.
- Newcastle disease (either the domestic or the exotic variety) - Respiratory symptoms of this chicken illness can include bleeding nares, mucousy nares, pale discharge from eyes and nares, and swollen eyes.