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Sick Pet Bird Care

The article is directed specifically at pet bird owners and is intended for their use as a basic guide on how to properly care for a sick or injured bird. Please always follow your veterinarian’s advice and do not use this article as a means to skip a veterinary examination. The main idea of ​​this article is to reduce all stress on your recovery bird.

1. HEAT: Sick birds will sit with their feathers ruffled to conserve heat. Trying to maintain heat puts an extra burden on an already weakened bird. Your vet will determine if your bird needs hospitalization, but if home care is acceptable, I recommend building a tent to keep your bird warm. The natural temperature of birds is much higher than ours at 103F-106F. Therefore, what is often warm to us can be cold to them and this is especially true in sick birds. A simple way to provide heat is to cover 1/2 of the cage with a blanket and place a heat lamp on the other side as a heat source. We usually keep our sick birds at ambient temperatures of 85-95F. This will vary greatly with an individual bird, so it is important to monitor your pet to ensure the correct temperature and be sure to seek the advice of your vet. A bird that is too hot has its very thin feathers close to the body, holds its wings (shoulders) slightly away from its body and may puff. If you see any of these signs your bird is too hot and the ambient temperature should be reduced accordingly. For nighttime temperatures I recommend using red light. Sick birds, like sick people, need rest and will fall asleep if kept under bright lights all night. Also, during the day it is important to provide light so that they are encouraged to eat and can be monitored. Therefore, the entire cage should never be covered during the day. I do not recommend heating pads as they are very difficult to regulate the heat. If a bird does not curl up and sit directly on the pad, it can easily overheat or burn. And in my experience baby birds raised on a heating pad quickly dehydrate and burn again.

2. STRESS: Weakened birds should be kept in a stress-free environment. Often what seems normal to us can cause stress in our furry friends. I recommend that you take a critical look at your bird’s environment to determine what may be stress factors. Some common ones are, the bird in the center of the house with no chance to rest, cigarette smoke or aerosols in the bird’s environment, lack of darkness/sleep time at night, other pets, small children, excessive visual stimuli (cage directly in front of window). , cage-mate competition, excessive handling, poor nutrition and high temperatures (such as birds kept in the kitchen). I recommend keeping sick birds in their cage and allowing them to recover peacefully. Think of it as bedding for your pet! Too much handling can stress the bird and will require the bird to consume more calories. If the bird is with other birds, it is usually best to remove the birds from the same cage. Some birds can become very stressed when separated from the colony, so you should seek advice from your vet on how to handle your sick pet. However, generally removing the bird from the flock will reduce the stress of competition for food and allow for easier treatment and better monitoring. Of course, if there is suspicion of an infectious disease, then the pet should be transferred to an isolation cage and at least a separate room – preferably a separate house without other birds.

3. DIET: If your doctor has recommended a diet, now is not the time to make a change. Changes in the type of diet will cause great stress to your bird and should be initiated when the bird is healthy. Always discuss with your veterinarian how and when to make dietary changes. In general, I recommend offering all of the bird’s favorite foods during illness because many sick birds become anorexic and die from starvation. If your bird is usually a seed eater but is not eating now, try placing insect sprays in the cage that most birds enjoy. The important thing to remember is that the bird has been undernourished for months or years and this cannot be corrected in a day or a week. Slow changes are important for a sick bird. If you are unable to feed your pet, it should be taken to the hospital for feeding and further care. Birds have a high metabolic rate and get hungry quickly. Therefore, a pet bird that stops feeding should always be considered critically ill, with the potential for death of course. Finally, if your bird is a hand fed baby and is not eating due to illness, you can return them to hand feeding (syringe feeding) more often during the recovery period. A good manual formula should be used. The formula should be mixed with warm water as directed on the bag and offered to the bird. Do not force the bird to eat. Pet owners should never force feed their birds. A bird can easily aspirate (pick up food) and develop pneumonia and force feeding can cause great stress to your bird. Hand feeding is only used for those birds that willingly accept syringe feeding. Also, if hand-fed, formula should be properly warmed (follow the directions on the formula bag and your vet’s) to avoid food burns from too hot formula and stalling from formula at too cold a temperature. Do not run away from the food.

4. TREATMENT: Routes: 1. Injection, 2. In water or food, 3. Topical, 4. Oral I prefer not to medicate in the animal’s water or food. Medications given in this way often cause a change in taste and cause the bird to reduce its food and water intake. Also, when the drug is put into food or water it is very difficult to determine how much of the drug has actually been ingested. So, in my opinion the best ways are injections and oral. Topical medication is not usually used on the animal and will cause the feathers to become greasy.

Before you take your bird home, you should be shown by a vet or technician how to properly treat your bird. Briefly, the patient should be held in an upright position and the syringe containing the medicine should be gently inserted from the left side of the mouth and cut to the right side. Most birds will try to bite the syringe so that it can easily enter the mouth cavity. Slowly push the plunger on the syringe to distribute the medicine to the lower part of the frog. If the pet struggles during the treatment, stop for a few moments and then try again. If you are unable to treat your pet, you should consult your veterinarian. The drug can be mixed with a flavoring agent (FlavorX), which will help reduce some of the resistance. Sometimes, depending on the reason for the treatment, your doctor may prescribe a long-acting injection instead of an oral medication, but this is of limited use and therefore not available for all animals.

5. FOLLOW-UP EXAMINATIONS: Once the disease is found in your pet, take it to the vet for a physical examination and diagnostic work-up including laboratory testing. Unfortunately, many people will see their pet improve and not realize that a follow-up exam is needed. I always recommend that the patient be rechecked at various intervals depending on the state of impotence. A follow-up exam allows your doctor to assess the patient’s response to treatment and adherence to the guidelines. Often times when treating an exotic animal the treatment must be slightly modified to provide the best response. These rechecks are also used as a way to reinforce the changes necessary for the health of the bird. Additionally, lab values ​​can be rechecked to make sure the patient is actually getting better and not just feeling well enough to cover up any weakness again. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this monitoring, it is very important to your bird’s health.

Most importantly, follow your vet’s advice and ask questions to fully understand what you need to do to get your pet back to health.

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