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BIRD / new pets

A Set-up Guide for New Dove Pet Parents

Tips for home, health and fun


5 things to know about your dove

  • Doves can live up to 15 years
  • They can grow up to 8 inches (20 cm) long
  • The smartest doves include the Diamond Dove and Ring-Neck Dove
  • Doves live on every continent except for Antarctica
  • Doves drink water by drawing it into their beaks as though through a straw

How do I set up my dove’s home?

  • Doves are quite social and do well in pairs or even flocks. Keep doves in an enclosure large enough for them to stretch their wings, climb and play. The cage should be at least 18 x 22 x 18 inches (46 x 56 x 46 cm). The bigger the enclosure the better, especially if it will house multiple doves.
  • Provide at least 2 perches of different thickness and materials; these variations help keep birds' feet strong and healthy. The perches should also be placed at different heights.
  • Don’t put perches over food or water because droppings will make a mess where the doves eat and drink.
  • Birds are sensitive to smoke, strong smells and drafts. Keep the enclosure away from the kitchen and open windows. Don’t place the enclosure in direct sunlight and be sure to cover it at bedtime.
  • Cushion the enclosure floor with an inch or 2 of corncob, aspen, wood-pellet or recycled-paper bedding, or use a liner. Remove droppings frequently, spot-clean the liner or bedding weekly, and replace it entirely at least once a month.
  • Provide a hut for sleeping.
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What do I feed my dove?

Doves enjoy a range of foods, including seeds, vegetables, fruit and the occasional treat.

  • Birdseed should make up 75% of your dove’s diet. Keep your dove’s food bowl three-quarters full of birdseed and refresh it daily.
  • Feed your dove dark, leafy greens every other day.
  • Once a week, feed your dove fruit such as apple, banana or melon.
  • Give your dove a honey stick or millet spray once a month for a special treat.
  • Your dove should have access to fresh, clean water at all times.
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How do I play with and groom my dove?

  • Doves can be trained to sit on their pet parent’s hand. They also make gentle cooing noises.
  • They are nesters, so consider buying them nest boxes for nighttime.
  • They like hay balls — toys you can fill with Timothy hay — for fun and foraging.
  • Offer a warm bowl of water for your birds to bathe in 2 to 3 times a week. Or if they prefer, gently mist them with warm, clean water from a spray bottle.
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How do I keep my dove healthy?

Try not to handle doves for 3 or 4 days after bringing them home, to give them time to adjust.

Even a settled-in bird can feel sick. If you notice any of these signs of illness or distress, contact a veterinarian who treats birds:

  • Decreased appetite or weight loss
  • Decreased activity or grooming
  • Feathers fluffed up for a long time
  • Long periods sitting at the bottom of the enclosure
  • Sneezing
  • Discharge from nose or mouth
  • Change in droppings for more than 2 days


  • Use caution when handling pets and remember they may bite or scratch (especially when stressed).
  • Supervise children around pets.
  • ALL ANIMALS can potentially carry viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic diseases contagious to humans.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after contact with any pet or its habitat.
  • Adults should assist children with hand washing after contact with a pet, its habitat or aquarium water.


Pets purchased at PetSmart are part of our exclusive Vet Assured™ program, designed by PetSmart veterinarians to help improve the health and well being of our pets.

Our vendors meet a high standard in caring for pets and screening them for common illnesses. This program also includes specific standards for in-store pet care.


If your pet becomes ill during the initial 14-day period, or if you’re not satisfied for any reason, PetSmart will gladly replace the pet or refund the purchase price.