|Basic Hygiene for You and Your Doves|
Every time you handle your doves or the cage, dishes or other bird paraphernalia, be sure to scrub your hands with an antibacterial soap and scrub under your nails with a nail brush. Bird droppings can carry bacteria and parasites such as worm eggs. If you can get a liquid soap with betadyne, it would be even more effective. Do not put the Dove near your mouth. Birds clean droppings from their feathers with their bills and can have bacteria and parasites such as psittacosis that could be transferred to you by direct contact with your mouth. Bacteria can also be transferred from feces and bacteria under the Doves nails through a scratch. Good common sense hygienic practices and having your Dove examined by a qualified Avian Vet will avert most problems.
The perches should be kept clean and free of defecation. An antibacterial soap and scrub brush will work well or you can purchase a cleaner at the pet store which had a brush on top of the bottle. The cleaner will quickly dissolve the dried bird droppings. Allow the perches to dry before permitting the bird to use them. Damp perches will cause serious health problems for the bird's feet. The perches should be cleaned no less than three times per week.
Even though the Doves love to graze for food on the bottom, I recommend dissuading them from doing this by keeping the bottom wire grate in place so the bird droppings will fall through the grate onto the paper below. If the Doves graze for seeds or grit on the bottom of the cage, they will be ingesting bird droppings, worm eggs, bacteria, etc. Be sure to clean the bottom grate each time you clean the perches.
Food & water dishes should be washed every day. Fresh water must be provided daily. Although the water dish may look clean, a film of slime will form each day if the dish is not cleaned. Birds often allow their droppings to fall in water and food dishes. Sometimes water will have to be changed during the day. The dishes may need to be rearranged in the cage to find a better location where the water is less likely to be soiled.
Fresh fruit and vegetables will need to be removed within 24 hours or they will develop fungus.
Paper for droppings should be changed daily. Dried droppings can become airborne. Inhaling dropping dust and bacteria can lead to serious lung problems which can be avoided by good cage cleaning habits.
Plastic Nests should be soaked and cleaned in a diluted Clorox solution and rinse well monthly if the doves, eggs or babies are not in it. As an alternative, replace the nest material with fresh filler. The entire cage should also be washed monthly with a diluted Clorox solution and rinse well, if the Doves are not sitting on the nest or have eggs or babies. Use the Clorox solution outside where the bleach will not harm or discolor anything. Allow the nest and cage to dry before returning them for the Doves to use. If you do not have an alternate cage to place the doves, use a cardboard box with air holes as a temporary holding area. Be sure to close the top so they cannot escape and place them in a safe place where harm cannot come to them. If you are going to have them in the box for more than an hour, be sure to add food and water. It is not a good idea to take your Doves outside for any reason.
Keep your Dove's perches and feet clean and free of bird droppings. If possible, bathe your bird at least twice per month or allow the bird to bathe itself. This will cut down on feather dust in the air and droppings on the feathers. For an example on how to bathe a bird, click here.