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Doves health and wellbeing

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A simple guide to a Dove’s well-being…

There are several common health problems that Doves can experience over their life. Some are more serious than others so as a matter of caution it’s important to keep an eye on them. This is a quick overview of a few common problems, for more information seek advice from a dedicated website/ blog or consult with a Vet.

As with any animals, health prevention is the best cure and it’s unlikely that your doves will have any health problems if they are housed correctly in dry clean conditions. Periodically, the dove compartments need to be scoured to remove detritus, which could promote the spread of disease among the birds. If you are buying new birds its sometimes best to keep them away from your own birds for a short time this gives you the chance to see if they are all well.

External parasites in Doves - What are they and how to eliminate external parasites

All doves and pigeons will have lice, fleas or red mite, however, if your bird looks a little off colour, then this is one of the first things you should look for. Lice live on the bird and do very little harm, fleas and red mite can live on and off the bird and feed on the blood and these can cause more harm and in worse scenarios lead to death.

Parasites are introduced to the doves by wild birds so it cannot be avoided. The best way to deal with them is a regular spray of Johnson’s anti-mite will do the job. As well as the birds the nest box should also be sprayed.

Internal parasites in Doves - What are they and how to eliminate internal parasites

These are spread by wild birds, tape and hairworms or possibly from new doves that have been introduced. As there are no signs of a worm infestation until it’s too late, we would recommend that you try to de-worm regularly.

Garlic can also be effective as a natural remedy; this can be done by boiling a few cloves of crushed Garlic in a pan and then allowing it to cool.

It can then be put into the bird’s drinker for them to drink. It should be removed after a day, and do this once a week.

| Doves health and wellbeing | Robinson Garden

Facts about Doves

    • The average lifespan of a Dove ranges between 10 to 25 years, depending on the species.
    • Doves reach maturity between six and twelve months.
    • The Average weight of a Dove is between 300 – 500 grams.
    • The Average size of a Dove is between seven and twelve inches.
    • It takes roughly two to three weeks for Dove’s eggs to hatch.


This is one of the most common problems to face all doves and pigeons and is brought on by stress and poor conditions. It is said that over 80% of all birds carry it. The problem with canker is that most of the time, you’re unable to tell until it’s too late.

The first sign is an adult bird having ruffled feathers and looking lifeless. On closer inspection, you will see a cheese-looking mass on the inside of the mouth next to the join.

This will grow so large that the bird will not be able to feed and, if untreated, could lead to death. The bird should be removed straight away, as it will soon spread to the rest of the group.

As a general rule, birds should be treated every 6 months with Metronidozale tablets. These are given to the birds directly, and it ensures that they all get treated. Measurement guidelines are 1/2 tablet per adult bird and 1/4 for birds being weaned.


This is commonly called coxy and mainly appears in damp weather or when the aviary litter has been left to become wet. As with canker, coxy is very much stress-related.

The symptoms include diarrhoea and birds looking cold and mopey. Most of the treatments that are used are added to the bird’s drinking water; there are several brands Hakers Vanhee and Norvet.

| Doves health and wellbeing | Robinson Garden

Handling Doves

When handling your doves, it’s important to understand the correct way to prevent causing harm to your doves.

The image above shows the correct way to handle the dove; with one hand, grasp the back of the dove, ensuring you grip the legs in between two fingers and then with the second hand, hold the front.

This method prevents putting pressure on the dove’s lungs and is the most effective way to handle them.

Do I need to clip the Dove’s wings?

Doves and pigeons wings should never be cut. Once they are cut and on the floor, they will be unable to get back onto the dovecote to roost. The dove’s feathers won’t regrow until the next molt.

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