Is it Legal to Euthanize a Healthy Pet Bird?

Birds can be problematic pets. They can either be very quiet or very loud- there’s no in-between. They’re incredibly selective with who they like and who they don’t, and once they decide, there’s no changing their minds. These small creatures pack a big punch in their bite, and though they seemed easy to take care of when you saw them at the pet store, you’ve found that they aren’t easy at all. Birds, like all pets, are a lot of work. But is that any reason to euthanize them?

While it is technically legal to euthanize a healthy pet bird, this practice is frowned upon by veterinarians and societies dedicated to animal care. Only veterinarians perform euthanasia, and they may suggest alternative options if they don’t agree with euthanasia in a given situation.

It is important to recognize that euthanasia is a very final decision, and it shouldn’t be a spur-of-the-moment decision, as it will affect your and your bird’s lives dramatically. In this article, we’ll discuss avian euthanasia, reasons to consider it, reasons that don’t work out, and whether or not it is legal to euthanize a healthy pet bird.

Is it Legal to Euthanize a Healthy Pet Bird?

If you’re looking at this in the most literal sense, there is not a law in place that forbids the euthanasia of a healthy pet bird. However, if you’re looking at ethical or moral laws, you may not find the same answer. Most veterinarians won’t euthanize a healthy pet bird, but they’ll provide other alternatives that will be better for you and your bird.

Though euthanasia of healthy avians isn’t illegal, euthanizing a bird if you’re not a vet is. If you are not a veterinarian, you don’t have the skills or knowledge required to be allowed to perform euthanasia. So, if you are considering euthanasia for your pet bird, take it to the vet and discuss it with them. They will help you determine the best solution for you and your bird. (Source)

Reasons for Avian Euthanasia That Don’t Hold Up

Squawking and Screaming

There are many different species of birds. Some of them squawk more than others, but they all squawk. Some species’ squawks sound remarkably like screams. Some are reminiscent of a fire alarm. And some are just plain frustrating, annoying, alarming, and whatever other unpleasant adjectives you can come up with. This is the category that my bird’s squawks fall into.

Many vets, in an effort to discourage euthanasia in these situations, will suggest devoicing the bird. This is inhumane and cruel. Their squawking doesn’t give you the right to have it euthanized or devoiced. If you are in a situation where the noise is unacceptable (for example, if you live in an apartment, or have a baby that naps during the day), then there are many options that can be considered before euthanasia.

If you truly love your bird, you will find a better home for it and perhaps try to get a new bird when you’re in a better situation to have one.

Biting/Aggressive Behavior

My bird, though I’m sure there are worse cases in other birds, is very aggressive. He lunges at people that pass his cage, even though he knows he won’t reach them. He bites the bars of his cage when people are near. There are very few people that he will allow to be near his cage without showing off his aggression. This, however, is not a reason to euthanize a bird.

If you’re worried about the danger that an aggressive bird poses to children or other visitors in your home, then I urge you to find a new home for it. There are also behavioral training courses that you can take birds to in order to attempt to correct their behavior. There are many options that can be considered before euthanasia.


Some species of birds, like the African Grey and Eclectus parrots, are prone to plucking. This is usually caused by depression in birds, which is usually caused by neglect, lack of attention, and other things like that. Once a bird starts plucking, it is near impossible to stop the habit, even if you correct their situation fast enough. Birds do not look pretty anymore after they have been plucking. I know because my bird fell victim to this habit when he was neglected in his previous home.

One can now see his bones and skin everywhere except his head, which he can’t pluck because his beak can’t reach it. One can even see through his wings in some areas. This is even after he was moved from a neglectful home into one where he was placed in a room that people are never absent from.

Even though a plucking bird isn’t pretty anymore, euthanasia is not the best answer. Finding a new home for your bird is the best thing to do if you don’t think you are equipped to take care of it. If your bird hasn’t started plucking yet, decide to give them away before neglecting them so that you can prevent plucking behaviors from starting. (Source)

When is it Okay to Euthanize a Pet Bird?

There are situations in which avian euthanasia is considered, but these are only in dire circumstances, not the trivial ones that were just discussed. If the bird has a disease that may affect other birds, then euthanasia can be considered, and depending on the intensity of the disease, it may be found to be the best option. Your veterinarian will know what is best in your situation.

If it is a quality of life issue, then euthanasia is much more readily considered, even though it is still a heartbreaking decision to make. In these cases of extreme pain and suffering or terminal illness, euthanasia can be considered. However, since this is hard to notice in a bird, your bird may pass naturally before you have the chance to see the signs and take your bird to the vet to be euthanized. (Source)

Carolina Pieters

I'm Carolina and created this blog, to provide practical advice and emotional comfort for those dealing with pet loss.

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