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Dove Health & Hygiene

Health & Hygiene For Your White Garden Fantail Doves.


This is one of the main problems that when you buy garden fantail doves you are either not told about or you think it will never happen to your doves so please read the following. I get many telephone calls regarding sick and dying fantail doves, The majority could of been avoided if prevention or treatment was at hand.

The basic idea to solve this problem in my opinion is to increase the natural defence mechanism of your garden fantail doves and to have a 3 to 4 monthly routine to administer the following medicines below to your doves.

Stress plays a very major part in your fantail doves getting ill, so prevention against stress is a must, sufficient hygiene care and an intact intestinal flora which defends from harmful bacteria and increases the natural defence system of your garden doves, I use Harkers Omni-Vit and MAGIC Stock Nutrition to help with the stress of my garden fantail doves.

An intact intestinal flora improves the digestive system and leads to a better utilisation of food and vitamins and therefore to a better stress free state hygeinic condition for your garden doves to live in.

I add apple vinegar in the doves drinking water and this helps the useful bacteria to increase under optimal circumstances I also add peeled garlic cloves to their drinking water.

I have also started to add YAKULT to my doves drinking water twice a month to help regain a healthy bacteria.

By having the correct food feeders, water dispensers and mineral stations in your garden your doves will have a much better chance of having a healthy and long life. And do not forget to let your garden fantail doves have weekly baths as this will keep there feathers in tip top condition and is a pleasure to watch them have some fun.


About Coccidiosis in Doves
Coccidiosis in Doves pronounced "cock-sid-ee-oh-sis", is a disease caused by a coccidial oocyst pronounced "oost"

In simple terms it is a microscopic parasite a coccidia is ingested by the dove, it then attaches itself to the lining of the doves gut, it then multiplies and becomes an oocyst feeding in the digestive tract of the dove and consequently will make the dove bleed.

Once the dove is infected, the dove will be passing these parasites in its poo days before you notice the symptoms occurring.

One of the most common tell tale sign, from the most common type of coccidia, is blood in the poo because it makes the doves gut lining bleed.

The oocyst eggs are also passed out through the droppings and so can and will infect the other doves.

Adult doves may live perfectly well with small infections their whole lives and if you use a preventative tonic like Apple Cider Vinegar & Garlic this can certainly keep on top of any oocysts and other worms. This 'acid' in the gut will help to prevent the formation of the oocyst which does all the damage to your garden fantail doves.

However when there is blood in the doves poo, the dove becomes lethargic and generally looking unwell then other treatment is needed.

Coccidiosis is caused by two species of coccidies specific to doves and pigeons, coccidiosis is transmitted through food, drinking water or gutters contaminated by bird droppings.

The reproductive cycle of coccidiosis is complex. Let us simplify by indicating that a sick dove or pigeon eliminates oocysts with its droppings and contaminates other doves and pigeons.

The sporulation is eased by moisture and heat. This makes these infesting sporulated oocysts able to create serious intestinal damage in the dove or pigeon absorbing them.

Clinical aspects are the young dove or pigeons are very sensitive to coccidiosis, with loss of appetite, intense thirst, greenish diarrhoea, important loss of weight, hanging wings and mortality within one week.

A less marked coccidiosis can appear as disorders of the growth weakness and rachitic dove or pigeons as a consequence of a poor intestine condition, deviated breast-bone and marked feathers.

For adult doves and pigeons which have acquired a certain resistance, the plumage is dull and dry, droppings are soft, and mucus is present in the throat. These weakened doves or pigeons cannot, obviously, carry out any prowes.

If not treated quickly at this point your garden fantail dove will die.

Treatment & Prevention:
You can use Harkers Coxoid 112ml or Natura Cox Solution and this will prevent and treat Coccidiosis in your garden doves.



About Trichomoniasis or Canker in Doves

Trichomoniasis or Canker as it is commonly known in garden doves is the most common disease of the garden fantail dove. It is said that most of the doves are infested with canker during their lives, but it rarely shows symptoms of the disease in mature doves.

However, stress can trigger a serious growth of trichomonads producing canker and the disease starts to affect the dove. It looks ruffled, stops feeding and starts loosing weight and if not treated, the dove soon dies.

Young doves are the most affected. This is why dove fanciers use to treat them against canker right after weaning.

The older doves introduce small amounts of trichomonads to the nestlings while feeding them, and so they develop immunity.

Signs of canker in garden fantail doves:

(1) Repeated swallowing movements can be a sign of canker.
(2) Yellow stuff in the throat and beak of the dove
(3) Ruffled plumage of the dove
(4) Apathy of the fantail dove
(5) Weight loss and weakness of the dove
(6) Increased water intake – this also produces the so called “wet nests” when the parents having canker pump a lot of water in the nestlings
(7) The garden doves are reluctant to fly.

The disease has several forms:

Pharyngeal Form is the most common. Dove Fanciers will usually notice yellow stuff in the throat of the bird.
In severe cases, the yellow stuff can inhibit feeding and even breathing.

Umbilical canker passes from the infected dovecote into the body of the young bird still in the dovecote nest.

Organ Form: In the most severe cases, canker will attack internal organs. It is often found in the liver. Some signs might be apathy, ruffled plumage and diarrhea. Most of these doves die of liver failure.

Trichomoniasis (Canker in Doves) is the most frequent disease in the doves and pigeon. It is caused by a tailed protozoon whose transmission is carried out especially by adult doves and pigeons feeding their youngsters.

Drinking water or food regurgitations, soiled by trichomoniasis, are also current vectors.

The adult doves or pigeons are generally carrying trichomonas without presenting disease symptoms but the disease can be declared following circumstances such as tiredness, breeding, moulting or the development
of another viral or parasitic disease.

Clinical aspects the adult doves show an inflamed throat, bad digestion and green soft to liquid droppings.

In the young doves from parents carrying the parasite, droppings become very liquid around the tenth day.

The youngsters are weak a small yellowish caseous lesions appear in the beak, on the palate, the inner cheeks, the tongue and the back throat. These very sticky caseous lesions can extend and develop along the



The photograph of the bird on the left has Canker, the photograph on the right is the same bird without Canker which has been treated with Harkers Harkanker Soluble

Treatment & Prevention:
Use Harkers Harkanker Soluble or Can-Kex 100ml or Naturazole Solution Canker to help treat and prevent Trichomoniasis (Canker) in your garden fantail doves.



About The Many Types Of Worms That Doves Have
Garden Fantail Doves can carry many different types of worms including roundworms, hair worms, stomach wall worms, and tapeworms.

Worm infections can cause droopiness, weight loss, diarrhoea, and breathing problems eventually leading to the death of your garden dove.

The Doves can ingest the worm eggs from infected droppings, slugs and earthworms. If you suspect your garden fantail doves having a worm infection you can purchase Harkers Vermon this will help to kill the worms.
The worms are released with the stools once you apply the medication, this should be done over a 3/4 day period and once again 10 days later to make sure that all the worms and eggs are dead.

Doves and Pigeons are frequently infested by ascaris and capillaries. The contamination is carried out by food and drinking water soiled by the droppings of other contaminated Doves, Pigeons and other wild birds.

The ascaris is a round white worm, pointed at the two ends and measures 2 to 5 cm long. They live in the intestine and are found in the droppings or in packs in the intestine of dead doves or pigeons. The eggs laid by the adult worms are eliminated within the droppings.

Favourable conditions such as heat and moisture are needed, after an oral ingestion by a dove or pigeon, to release the larva which can migrate in all the body especially the liver through the blood stream. The migration of the larva through tissues causes serious damages, particularly in the intestine which cannot suitably fulfil any more its role of food assimilation.

Moreover, the ascaris use for themselves part of the food, thus increasing the nutritional deficiencies in the dove or pigeons. The capillary is a worm of approximately 1.5 cm long. Because it is extremely thin it is practically invisible to the naked eye. It lives in the intestinal wall.

Clinical aspects:
In case of light infestation, condition and racing results decrease. As the infestation is more important, the simple greenish intermittent diarrhoea becomes chronic, along with weakness and an increasingly dull plumage.

Death occurs when the doves or pigeon are extremely skinny, showing a breast-bone called “blade of a knife” resulting of melted muscles. Intestines can be completely blocked by a pack of ascaris to the extent of bursting.

To help prevent your garden fantail doves from getting worm infections do the following:

Always give your fantail doves clean fresh water daily and place outside, I use the 6 Litre water dispenser and I also remove the bird droppings from the dovecote on a regularly basis.

Treatment & Prevention:
Have a worming schedule and plan is what I do to all my garden fantail doves 4 times a year and I use both Harkers Harka Verm Liquid Wormer or Natura Worms Solutions for this worming treatment.



 All About Dove Lice, Mites, Fleas and Tics


You can see dove lice under the wings and tail feathers of your garden fantail doves, they look like a tiny dashes or wood splinters and survive on feather dander.

The Dove lice thrive in the late Summer and early Autum in the molting season, you can find red mites on the chest of the garden fantail doves as tiny red dots, other mites are invisible to the human eye but you can see the damage to the feather edges and quills, mites are blood suckers and may hide at night in the dovecote.
Dove flies are similar to our regular house flies but have specialised flat bodies that allow them to hide in the feathers of their hosts for feeding and gliding, Dove flies are also blood suckers, which can transmit Pigeon Malaria, a deadly disease characterised by reduced performance and dull plumage.
Bloodsucking parasites such as mites, pigeon flies, and mosquitoes can also transmit pigeon pox to doves, a minor viral infection characterised by small blisters around the eyes, beak, or feet, which fester and scab before falling off.

Ectoparasites these parasites develop from contact with contaminated equipment or other contaminated birds doves, pigeons but also chicken or wild birds.

Columbicola columbae is a louse of approximately 2 mm long that feeds on remains of feathers and skin and causes itching. In these conditions of irritability doves or pigeons can’t rest. Easily visible in the light when the wing is spread, they can be found on the feathers of the neck when the infestation is massive or when the infested bird is dead.

Faculifer rostratus is a mite of small size (smaller than the millimetre) which attacks the barb of the primaries by causing holes in the feather, in parallel lines with the feather shaft of the dove or pigeon.

Dermanyssus gallinae is a bloodsucking mite which hides in the day time near the nests, in cracks of the wall, in dovecotes and lofts etc. At night, this parasite attacks the sleeping doves or pigeons to feed on their blood. These non stopping blood intakes induce anaemia which can be mortal for young doves or pigeons.

Doves and Pigeons do not benefit from these poor sleeping periods and get weaker and weaker. They also loose their fitness and can give the nest up during incubation periods as they become exhausted, causing death of the embryo (black egg) as a consequence.

Argas or dove/pigeon’s tics induces the same symptoms and consequences as the dermanyssus. Its larva remains on the host and appears as red and black spots, the size of a pinhead, in the neck and on the wings. The tics can be the hosts vectors of the paratyphoid and pocks.

Cnemidocoptes laevis is responsible for scabies. This parasite sits mainly on the neck of the dove or pigeon, but can spread at the edge of the wings and to the ventral area. It breaks the base of the feather and causes a very strong irritation to the  dove or pigeon skin. Frequent in spring and in summer, scabies seem to disappear during the moult but the problem will start again the following spring on a more significant number of birds because it is a contagious disease.

Treatment & Prevention:
Inspect the birds under their wings and tail feathers regularly for these parasites.  You can spray them under the wings and tail feathers with a lice and mite spray like Harkers Mectin Spot On - Natura Mectin Spot-On - Harkers Duramitex Plus and Johnsons Dove Insect Spray Extra.
The easiest way to prevent and control lice is to clean the dovecote regularly and remove the loose feathers, which provide food for the lice. You should also allow the birds to fly and bathe outdoors regularly to prevent these parasites you can also add garlic cloves and apple cider vinegar to the bath water this helps to prevent the mites and lice but you should always use on of the above products to kill these blood sucking mites.



Dove Injured by a Cat, Dog, Sparrow Hawk other Animal, Bird of Prey For many years people thought that cat caught doves died of shock within 48 hours. It is only recently discovered that what they actually died of was pasteurella septicaemia. 90% of cats carry the pasteurella multocida bacteria in their saliva so the chances of infection are high and doves caught by cats will usually succumb to the septicaemia unless they are treated promptly with antibiotics.
Because doves preen their feathers a cat caught dove can develop an infection from the pasteurella bacteria without suffering puncture wounds.

The saliva on its feathers can pass into its system when it preens and it can develop pasteurellosis.
The doves can die before symptoms of infection become noticeable, which is why you will need to treat the dove even if you suspected of having been caught by a cat immediately with Synulox.

Doves that have been caught by hawks or dogs should be treated as the same for cat injuries. Wounds should be flushed out with sterile saline, obtainable from the chemist.

It is best not to let a puncture wound scab over, as this seals infection in. Gentle removal of the scab, flushing with sterile saline and treating the area with an antibacterial cream will allow the wound to heal from within.


Paratyphoid (Salmonellosis)
A bacterial disease caused by a salmonella strain (Salmonella typhimurium variety Copenhagen) generally carried between the doves through shared food and water, outbreaks are common during the breeding season
Cock birds may appear fine one day, be dead the next. Hens show weight loss, sticky droppings, swollen wing joint at elbow. Eggs turn black and appear rotten. Hatchlings begin to hatch then die in shell.
Seven to ten day old youngsters show diarrhea, dehydration and death - often, of two in a nest, only one is affected. Twisting of the neck may occur, but this is more common with PMV.

An antibiotic such as Baytril, which may be prescribed by a vet, is generally given

This bacteria likes alkaline substances, dislikes acid substances. Treat drinking water with apple cider vinegar Ensure rodents cannot gain access to the Dovecote Strict Hygeine.


Pigeon Paramyxovirus (PMV)

Pigeon or dove Paramyxovirus or PMV for short is a viral disease that does not affect man or animals, but a human that handles a pigeon or dove with PMV or the live vaccine can develop conjunctivitis if sensible precautions are not taken (eg, do not touch your eyes immediately after handling a pigeon/dove with PMV or the live vaccine).

Incubation period can vary from a few days to several weeks. It is most often of moderate virulence with 5% to 10% mortality, but rarely highly virulent strains can cause 90%mortality.

Mortality rates are significantly higher if supportive care is not given (eg. when the virus is injected experimentally in a laboratory). Water deprivation and stress increase mortality. Spontaneous recovery within 6 - 12 weeks is common, but recovery can take longer. Nervous symptoms can persist for life or return in times of stress. Some pigeons/doves will suffer from persistent diarrhoea after recovery.

Symptems are the following: Diarrhoea is often the first symptom, but feral pigeons/doves will not often come to the attention of a rescuer until the nervous signs appear. Not all symptoms will be present at the same time. All symptoms are aggravated by excitement.

The most common symptoms seen will be:

Thin broken solid droppings in a pool of liquid Fine tremor of eyes or head Staggering Somersaulting in flight Crash landing Difficulty in picking up seed, pecking and missing. Tossing seed backwards Twisting neck, head upside down (torticollis, star gazing).
Paralysis of legs or wings Spiralling in flight Flying backwards Turning in circles Having fits 

During the recovery period keep pigeons/doves with Pigeon PMV in a quiet, warm (not hot) cage with soft flooring away from any intense light source. Towelling is ideal for flooring as they can damage their feathering if they have fits. Provide a brick for perching.
Feeding & Watering

Place seed in a deep dish so that if they stab at random they can pick seed up. Because Pigeon PMV can cause fits pigeons are at risk of drowning but they need free access to water. Provide water (with added electrolytes if possible) in a deep narrow container to minimise the risk of accidental drowning. Watch the pigeon to ensure it is drinking. Hand feeding may be necessary. If feeding by gavage tube is not an option the pigeon's mouth has to be opened and the food pushed to the back of throat. Suitable foods that can be fed this way include pellets of egg food paste dipped in water, small soaked pieces of dog biscuit, frozen peas and sweetcorn thawed in hot water for about 20 - 30 minutes (not tinned). Weigh the pigeon/dove daily and carry out a poop count to ensure that he is getting enough food. As a guideline: a healthy pigeon will pass between 20 and 30 raisin sized poops a day.

Nursing Care

Supportive care is usually sufficient. Resistance to other diseases such as coccidiosis, trichomoniasis and aspergillosis is reduced. Avoid conditions that could aggravate these conditions (stress, damp etc), watch out for symptoms and provide prompt treatment if symptoms appear. The disease runs its course in about 6 weeks, by that time the pigeon has stopped shedding the virus and won't infect other pigeons but nervous symptoms and gastro-intestinal may persist longer. Vitamins should be given to boost the immune system. Probiotics can be used to crowd out any bad gut bacteria. Electrolytes can be given to replace the electrolytes lost through polyuria. I have found that providing a calcium supplement on arrival (Gem Calcium Syrup with Vitamin D3) has helped. The dose I gave was two drops a day for 3 days.
Do not use antibiotics without consulting a vet. They can intensify the lesions and aggravate the course of the disease. 


Pigeon PMV is highly infectious to other pigeons , victims should be kept isolated from other birds for at least 6 weeks.
Maintain scrupulous hygiene , regularly disinfecting food and water containers with bleach.
Always see to a pigeon with Pigeon PMV after you have treated your other birds. That reduces the risk of carrying the infection to other birds in your care.
Wash hands after contact and take care not to track fecal waste or carry fecal dust to areas where other birds are.
Some rescuers keep a clean overall and shoes just inside the isolation area, to put on while caring for Pigeon PMV sufferers and remove when leaving the area. Dispose of droppings wisely, they can be a source of infection to feral pigeons and doves.


Some Useful Homeopathic Remedies

I have had some success treating the paralysis/stroke symptoms of Pigeon PMV using the homeopathic remedy Conium Maculatum (common hemlock) dosing with a single tablet of the 30 potency three times a day for up to 10 days. Birds that tremble and fall over when they try to move because their balance is impaired may benefit from Argenitum Nit 30 potency, one tablet given 3 or 4times a day for up to 2 days. Belladonna can be used for birds that are restless with convulsive movement and jerking limbs. 2 pilules twice a day.

**Remember not to touch homeopathic pilules with your hands, this can contaminate them and reduce effectiveness, give them on a clean mouth (no food or additions to the drinking water 20 minutes before or 20 minutes after) and stop the remedy as soon as an improvement shows**





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