Home | General Bird Care | Avian Health Questions: “I’ve been told that Nolvasan (Chlohexidine diacetate) added to my bird’s drinking water will kill bacteria. Is this true, and can it harm my pet”?

Avian Health Questions: “I’ve been told that Nolvasan (Chlohexidine diacetate) added to my bird’s drinking water will kill bacteria. Is this true, and can it harm my pet”?


Nolvasan is effective in eliminating a wide range of bacteria and other micro-organisms when used as a cleaning agent, and I relied upon it throughout my zoo career.

Many aviculturists utilize Nolvasan as an additive to drinking water and hand-feeding formulas, most especially where the yeast Candida albicans is a concern.  Its effectiveness in this role is, however questionable.  The main problem is that the concentration that is safe for birds to drink (1 teaspoon per gallon per manufacturer’s instructions) may not be strong enough to kill all pathogens.

Frequent cleaning of your pet’s food and water bowl and bath, using hot water and Clorox, is a far better practice than is using water additives.  Be sure to scrub all surfaces thoroughly – JW Pet Double Brush for Bird Waterers is superbly designed for this task.  You can also wipe the interior of these areas (and the cage itself) with Bramtom Bird Cage Wipes.

I also suggest keeping 2 sets of food and water cups on hand.  Air drying after cleaning, in sunlight if at all possible, is an extremely effective disease control measure.  By alternating your food and water cups, you can assure that each will have plenty of time to dry out after cleaning.

Candida albicans is very common in most environments, and nearly always shows up opportunistically when any sort of avian health problem arises.  You can learn more at:


About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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