If you have always wanted a pet bird but suffer allergies, you probably feel hesitant about committing to an animal without knowing how it will make you think.
This consideration begs the question, “Are cockatiels hypoallergenic?” The good news is that cockatiels are not highly allergenic when pet owners take good care of their birds and keep their cages clean.
Although cockatiels are not hypoallergenic, they are small birds that produce only slight amounts of feather dust and dander.
This makes them popular as pets for people with allergies, along with Quaker parrots, parakeets, Eclectus parrots, macaws, toucans, and conures. Among low-allergen pets, the cockatiel is one of the easiest to care for and manage without sniffling and sneezing.
Are People Allergic to Cockatiels and Other Birds?
For the most part, people are not allergic to birds. Allergies around birds are typically triggered by the animals’ feather dust, dander, and fecal waste. All birds produce these allergens, although the cockatiel and others produce low amounts and make better pets for people at risk for allergy discomfort.
What Are Cockatiel Feather Dust and Its Role in Allergies?
Feathers grow out of a bird’s skin, first protruding sharply and later looking like a quill. The quill is fed by a vein surrounded by a hard keratin sheath, much like a human fingernail. When the feather is fully grown and matured, the keratin sheath dries out and sheds.
Feather dust enters your home’s atmosphere with every feather fluffing, shaking, or wing flapping. The natural shedding of the keratin sheath creates feather dust. The dust also comes from the bird’s constant grooming, called preening.
Cockatiels, in particular, generate a more delicate powder of keratin dust than many other breeds. This powder waterproofs their feathers but can also trigger asthma, allergies, or respiratory issues if allowed to build up within your home.
However, you can take some simple steps to reduce feather dust in your living space and keep your bird hypoallergenic.
These feather dust reduction and cleaning tips to keep your pet cockatiel close to hypoallergenic include:
- Giving the bird regular baths
- Wiping down the birdcage’s surfaces with a damp cloth daily
- Changing the cage liner daily
- Spraying a light mist of water on the cage liner before removing it to reduce dust released into the atmosphere
- Vacuuming or mopping the floor around the cage daily
- Using an air purifier in the cockatiel’s room
- Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter or water filter system
- Changing your air conditioning or heating filters monthly
- Spraying the bird with a pet bird grooming solution
What is cockatiel bird dander, and does it trigger allergies?
A cockatiel’s dander, like feather dust, comes from the bird’s grooming. Dander is made up of flakes and specks of skin, feathers, dirt, grime, and keratin.
All birds have this dander to some degree, with the cockatiel having a low amount due to its smaller size as a pet.
Just like feather dust, it is essential to keep your bird and its living environment clean to prevent the build-up of dander in your home.
Following the cleaning tips listed in the section above makes it easy to keep your cockatiel non-allergenic and your allergies at bay.
Signs Your Pet Cockatiel May Be Triggering Your Allergies
If you have concerns about whether a cockatiel will trigger your allergies, there are some steps you can take to make owning one of these birds more comfortable.
Of course, you should keep up with a good cleaning regimen like the one listed above. Other tips include owning only one bird at a time and caging your bird outside of your bedroom to reduce the potential for allergens to bother you.
Remember, your cockatiel itself is not allergenic. It is the bird’s byproducts and debris that can trigger allergies.
These triggers and the resulting symptoms indicate that the bird’s shared environment with you needs cleaning.
Signs your cockatiel is triggering allergies include:
- Sinus pressure
- Scratchy or irritated throat
- Asthma symptoms
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
Besides allergies to feather dust and dander, it is possible to have a feather allergy. However, this is a low condition, as explained in a recent study published by the National Library of Medicine.
If you fear having a feather allergy, visit your doctor for testing before taking a new pet cockatiel home.
Despite the low occurrence of feather allergy in Americans, it can happen. This allergy causes sneezing, wheezing, and other common symptoms dependent upon the individual’s sensitivity.
Some people have experienced asthma attacks from feather allergy, despite cockatiels’ low production of allergens.
The Many Benefits of Owning a Low Allergen Pet Cockatiel
A cockatiel’s soft allergenic nature is only one of the many reasons these birds make great pets. Other benefits of pet cockatiels include:
- A long lifespan of up to 20 years when well cared for
- They are low-maintenance pets
- Ability to mimic human voices and speech
- They are pretty and entertaining to watch
- Most are intelligent, playful, and loving
- Compared to many birds and other pets, they take up little space
Most cockatiels need daily time outside their cage to stretch their wings and play. To maintain your bird’s clean presence throughout your home, dust your household surfaces regularly and vacuum or mop the floor.
If I Have Animal Allergies, Is a Pet Cockatiel Right for Me?
If animals easily trigger allergies, talk to your doctor before choosing a cockatiel or any other pet.
Because these birds live so long, taking one home is a long-term commitment. The last thing you want is to feel miserable because of allergic symptoms in your living space.
Although all birds produce feather dust, dander, and waste, some have less than others.
If a cockatiel is unsuitable for you, consider the less allergenic options of parakeets, macaws, toucans, conures, Pionus parrots, Eclectus parrots, and Quaker parrots. Or, you can choose from smaller birds that produce fewer byproducts due to their sizes, like canaries or finches.
Whichever bird you choose, keeping your shared home clean is the key to living harmoniously and breathing easily together.