You can treat pigeon canker with water soluble medication or with tablets (recommended):
- oral canker tablets – for individual pigeon treatment. This is the best option and I recommend it. While this option comes with the effort of catching pigeons for individual tablet treatment, you are guaranteed to offer them the right dosage which makes the treatment safe and effective;
- water soluble canker medication – this option is often used to treat pigeon trichomoniasis in the entire flock at once. It is more convenient for the fancier (eliminates the effort to catch pigeons especially in big flocks) but it is less efficient or can be toxic for the birds because in hot weather they drink a lot more water and in cold weather they drink less. The fancier will have to adjust the recommended dosage of canker medicine based on the water intake of pigeons and it is almost impossible to estimate the right dosage according to temperature.
4 Pigeon Canker Medicine Options
Drugs used for pigeon canker vary in toxicity for the pigeons with Dimetridazole being the most toxic, Metronidazole and Carnidazole being less toxic and Ronidazole being the least toxic.
There are many products available for canker treatment based on these substances such as:
- Schroeder Tollisan: TKK powder (ronidazole + metronidazole) and tablets (ronidazole)
- Belgica De Weerd: B.S. Tablets and powder, BelgaMagix
- Cest Pharma: Tricoplus (ronidazole), Ronidazole 10%, Tricotab (ronidazole), Tricomonas Tab (dimetridazole), Carnix Tab (carnidazole)
- DAC Pharma: Ronidazole 10%, Combi Tab (dimetridazole)
- Pantex: Ronidazole 40
- Dr. Peeters: Tricho Pills, Tricho Groen
- Janssen: Spartrix tablets (carnidazole)
- Flagyl (metronidazole)
Avoid the Toxicity of Canker Treatment
Except carnidazole, the other medication must be administered for 3-5 days in the drinking water to be effective and avoid building resistance in the trichomoniasis agent. Ronidazole is the safest while overdose of the others can produce nervous signs and even death. The nervous signs usually reverse after discontinuance of the medication.
You don’t want to see a team of racing pigeons affected by the toxicity of the canker treatment. While I didn’t see nervous symptoms, years ago I think I had some kind of toxicity in the team and it is scary. All the birds were quiet – imagine a pigeon loft with no cooing. Obviously, they didn’t want to fly, I think they landed in less than a minute. They needed weeks to recover and of course that racing season was over for them.
I don’t see this mentioned too often, but a very important thing to do to avoid toxicity from pigeon canker medication (and in fact from any medication!) is to remove the water after the birds get their dose by drinking after you feed them. Do not let the water stay in the loft for hours, this is bad especially in hot weather.
Some Birds Avoid Medication in Pigeon Flock Treatment
If you treat for canker the entire flock through water and not with individual tablets, you have to be careful and see if all the birds get their dosage. If 1-2 birds skip their dosage they will quickly reinfect the whole flock when the treatment is finished.
If you remove the water after they drink to avoid toxicity like mentioned above, make sure all the birds drink. This is a bit tricky. For natural fliers with birds on the nest, if a bird stays on the nest at feeding time (and many will do), they will skip drinking so you’d have to remove them all from their nests and eventually feed and let them drink in a separate loft section so they don’t get back on the nest before drinking. Another situation when you must be careful is if you let them fly outside – they shouldn’t be able to drink from rain water collected on the roof and in garden puddles or from rivers nearby.
With all these precautions, some birds are still under-medicated because they simply refuse to drink or drink too little because of the taste.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to recommend the tablet based canker treatment.
If there is some yellow cheesy substance in the beak it can be easily removed with a cotton bud. We can also brush the area after this with a cotton bud with diluted iodine solution (like the Blitzform supplement at the recommended dosage per liter of drinking water).
How to Treat Canker in Pigeons
It is recommended to alternate the trichomoniasis treatment drugs to avoid developing resistance in the trichomonads. What we do as fanciers treating the pigeons often is to select for more resistant trichomonads and less resistant pigeons.
Pigeons don’t like the taste of water with canker medicine so underdose is common especially since people use it only 1 day after the race. This builds resistance in the trichomoniasis parasite. Canker treatments should be done for at least 3 days and liver protecting supplements are recommended.
Since all pigeons will have some trichomonads for their entire life, it is best to let them build resistance and just treat the ones suffering visibly from infection in cases where their immune system became weak and can’t fight canker on its own.
Some racing pigeon fanciers use to treat their racers after each race which is not ok. They hope to get a boost in racing by clearing the trichomonads in the pigeon’s system but in the long term they just create weaker pigeons for which canker is a serious threat. I haven’t treated my stock pigeons for canker for the last 10 years and I’m amazed how susceptible to canker are youngsters from newly brought breeders.
For the racing pigeons team, flock treating shouldn’t be done more than once in every 3 weeks especially in lofts where the canker treatments are done blindly without laboratory testing.
For the reasons described above, pigeon canker tablets are always recommended.
Canker medication can cause infertility in pigeon males so if you had such problems during the breeding period, this could be an answer for you.
Treat pigeon canker when symptoms are obvious or when you see the performance of the racing team going down but for the most part, your priority should be the prevention of pigeon canker.