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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > Dove



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Traits & behavior

Doves love to be stroked and held and want to interact with their Pet Parents as much as possible. They require 15-30 minutes or more of daily interaction.

These gentle birds can often be tamed to sit on your hand.

The soft cooing sounds of the male bird make the dove an amusing pet.

High metabolic rate
Because a dove's metabolism is very active, starvation can occur in as little as 24 hours. Food should be available at all times.

Doves swallow their seeds whole. Place a small pinch of grit in their food each week to help aid in digestion.

Messy eaters
Your dove will drop a lot of food while eating.

Things to remember

Don't forget that children, pets and unfamiliar guests should be supervised when interacting with your dove.

Long-term companions
Before purchasing, be aware that a dove requires a long-term commitment of approximately 20-25 years.

Safety & cleanliness
Please remember that all pets may bite or scratch, and may transmit disease to humans. Keep your pet's home clean and wash your hands before and after handling your pet or cleaning his home. Infants, young children, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, and the infirm or elderly are at greater risk of infections and should use caution when in contact with the pet or its habitat. Consult your doctor for more information.


Staple diet
Feed her 2-3 teaspoons per day of a pellet or seed-based, fortified finch diet.

Fruits & vegetables*
About 5-10% of a dove's diet should be bite-sized fruits and veggies like oranges, apples, melon, sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach, mustard greens and shredded carrots. Offer daily or every 2-3 days.

Be sure to provide a cuttle bone in your dove's cage at all times.

Doves should have access to clean, fresh water in a bottle or bowl at all times.

*Remember that fresh food requires its own dish and should be removed from the habitat within four hours to avoid spoilage.


Signs of a healthy dove:

  • Clear, bright eyes
  • Clean, smooth feathers
  • Eats throughout the day
  • Normal droppings that are not runny for more than a couple of days
  • A curious and active disposition

Things to watch for:

  • Decreased appetite; weight loss
  • Decreased activity and grooming behavior
  • Changing droppings in excess of two days
  • Sitting at the bottom of cage
  • Discharge from nose or mouth; frequent sneezing
  • Feathers fluffed for prolonged periods of time

If you notice any of the signs described above, consult an Avian Veterinarian.


Your dove's cage must be large enough for her to comfortably stretch her wings and fly from perch to perch. The bigger the cage, the better. Minimum cage size is 18"W x 22"L x 18"H.

Place two perches at different heights, so that your dove will be unable to soil her food bowls. Provide perches of differing widths, diameters and textures to help keep her feet healthy.

Cage placement
Place your bird's cage, away from drafts, open windows and the kitchen. Be aware that doves are sensitive to smoke and strong odors. Cover the cage at night to prevent drafts.

Provide a birdbath 2-3 times per week. You can offer a warm water bath or gently mist her with warm water from a clean spray bottle.

Food & water containers
It is important to clean your bird's containers every day, even if the bowl or bottle looks full.

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