The article is aimed specifically at pet owners and is intended for their use as a basic guide to properly caring for a sick or injured bird. Please always follow your veterinarian’s advice and do not use this article to avoid veterinary examination. The main idea of this article is to relieve all the stress on your recovering bird.
1. TEMPERATURE: Sick birds will sit with their feathers fluffed to conserve heat. The effort to conserve heat places an additional burden on the 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. A bird’s natural temperature is much higher than ours, anywhere from 103F-106F. Therefore, what is usually warm to us may be cold to them, and this is especially true for 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 the heat source. Generally speaking, we keep our sick birds in ambient temperatures ranging from 85-95F. This will vary greatly with the individual bird so it’s important to monitor your pet and of course seek your veterinarian’s advice to make sure you are providing the right temperature. A very hot bird will have very sleek plumage that is held tightly to the body, holding its wings (shoulders) a little bit away from its body, and it can breathe. If you see any of these signs, your bird is too hot and the ambient temperature should be reduced accordingly. I recommend using a red light for night temperature. Sick birds need rest just like sick people, and if they are kept under bright lights all night they will be sleepless. It is also important to provide light so that they can be watched and encouraged to eat throughout the day. For this reason, the entire cage should never be covered during the day. I do not recommend heating pads, as it is very difficult to adjust the temperature. If a bird is not perching and sitting directly on the pad, it can easily overheat or get burned. And in my experience, baby birds raised on a heating pad quickly become dehydrated and suffer burns again.
2. STRESS: Weakened birds should be kept in a stress-free state. Things that usually seem normal to us can cause stress in our furry friends. I recommend taking a critical look at your bird’s environment to determine what stressors might be. Some common ones include bird not having a chance to rest in the middle of home traffic, cigarette smoke or aerosols in bird environment, no night dark/sleep time, other pets, small children, too many visual stimuli (direct cage). windows), competition from cage mates, too much carrying, malnutrition, and extreme temperatures (such as birds kept in the kitchen). I recommend leaving sick birds in their cages and allowing them to recover calmly. Think of it as bed rest for your pet! Too much handling can stress the bird and will require the bird to use additional calories. If the bird is housed with other birds, it is usually best to house the bird in a single cage. Some birds can be very stressed when they leave the colony, so you should seek advice from your veterinarian on how to cage your sick pet. Generally, however, removing the bird from the group will reduce the stress of competition for feeding and allow for easier and better monitoring of drug therapy. Of course, if an infectious disease is suspected, the pet should be moved to an isolation cage and at least to a separate room – preferably a separate house without other birds.
3. NUTRITION: If your doctor has made dietary recommendations, now is not the time to make changes. Changes in diet type will cause great stress for your bird and should be started once the bird has recovered. Always discuss how and when to make dietary changes with your pet’s doctor. In general, I recommend offering your bird’s favorite food during illness because many sick birds become anorexic and may perish from starvation. If your bird is normally a seed eater but is not currently eating, try placing millet sprays in the cage that most birds enjoy. The most important thing to remember is that bird malnutrition takes months, years and cannot be fixed in a day or a week. Slow changes are very important for the sick bird. If you cannot feed your pet, he should be hospitalized for gavage feeding and further care. Birds have a high metabolic rate and can starve quickly. Therefore, a domestic bird that stops eating should always be assumed to be critically ill, with the potential for death certainly present. Finally, if your bird is a hand-reared baby and is not eating due to illness, you can switch them back to hand-feeding (syringe-feeding) while they are convalescing. A good hand cultivation formula should be used. The food should be mixed with the hot water indicated on the bag and given to the bird. Do not force the bird to eat. Pet owners should never force their birds to feed. A bird can easily aspirate (inhale food) and develop pneumonia, and force-feeding will cause great stress for your bird. Reverting to hand feeding is only beneficial for birds who willingly accept syringe feeding. Also, if hand-fed, the food must be properly heated (follow the advice on the produce bag and your vet’s) to avoid burning the food from too hot food and product stagnation if food fed at too cold a temperature.
4. MEDICATION: Routes: 1. Injectable, 2. Water or Food, 3. Topical, 4. Oral I prefer not to administer medication in pet’s water or food. Medications given in this way often cause changes in taste and can potentially cause the bird to reduce its food and water intake. Also, when medicated in food or water, it is very difficult to determine how much medicine the pet actually swallowed. Therefore, I think the best routes are injectable and oral. Topical medications are generally not used for pets and cause greasy hair.
Before taking your bird home, you should be shown by the doctor or technician how to properly medicate your bird. Briefly, the patient should be kept in an upright position and the syringe containing the drug should be inserted gently from the left side of the mouth and at an angle to the right. Most birds bite into the syringe, allowing it to easily enter the oral cavity. Gently depress the plunger on the syringe to dispense the medication into the lower part of the beak. If the pet is having trouble taking medication, stop for a few minutes and try again. If you are unable to administer medication to your pet, you should notify your veterinarian. The drug can be mixed with a flavoring agent (FlavorX) to help reduce some resistance. Sometimes, depending on the cause of 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 every pet.
5. FOLLOW-UP EXAMINATIONS: As soon as the disease is detected in your pet, it is taken to the veterinarian for diagnostic studies, including physical examination and laboratory tests. Unfortunately, many people will see their pets improve and will not realize that a follow-up examination is necessary. I always recommend rechecking the patient at variable intervals, depending on the debilitating condition. The recheck exam allows your doctor to evaluate the patient’s response to treatment and the owner’s compliance with instructions. Many times during the treatment of an exotic pet, the treatment must be slightly modified to ensure the best response. These controls are also used as a way to reinforce the changes necessary for the bird to stay healthy. In addition, laboratory values can be rechecked to ensure that the patient is indeed recovering and is feeling well enough to continue to hide any weakness. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this follow-up, it is extremely important for the health of your bird.
Most importantly, follow your vet’s advice and ask questions to make sure you understand exactly what you need to keep your pet healthy.