Caring for Sick Birds

While caring for a sick pet can be a little tricky, caring for sick birds is extremely difficult. By the time many bird owners realize their pets are sick, the birds are seriously ill. If your bird is sick, you should contact your avian vet immediately. However, reaching your vet when you recognize your bird is sick is not always possible. What do you do to help your bird until you can get him to the vet’s office?

The first thing you should do for your sick bird is to warm him up. A grow light for plants is an ideal heat source. Aim the light so that your bird is able to move away from it if he gets too hot. If your bird is sitting on the bottom of his cage and is unable to sit on his perch, you may want to move him into hospital cage for added warmth and safety.

Aquariums make excellent hospital cages for birds. Simply put some form of bedding in the bottom, such as a towel or newspaper and place shallow crocks of food and water in one corner. If you line the aquarium with newspaper, it can be a bit slippery for your bird to stand on, so you may want to place a few paper towels on top of the paper.

Ideally, you should have a low perch in the aquarium. A freestanding triangle perch is perfect for this purpose.
Position a light so that it shines on one side of the cage. This way, your bird is not forced to sit under the light if the hospital cage gets too warm.

If you don’t have an aquarium, you can turn your bird’s normal cage into a hospital cage. Cover most of the bird cage with a towel to keep the warmth in and put a perch and feed and water dishes on the cage bottom.

Next, you should be sure your bird does not become weakened by a lack of nutrition and dehydration. Electrolytes can provide some quick energy for an ill bird. See if he will drink a few drops of a sports drink from a spoon. For birds that were handfed, this should not be a problem unless they are too weak to drink. In fact, if you have handfeeding formula, you can mix up a bit of the formula using the sports drink instead of water. This can help make the taste a bit more appealing.

If your bird doesn’t seem weak enough to need electrolytes, keep a close eye on the amount of food he eats and offer him a sprig of spray millet for some quick energy.

Of course, if your bird needs emergency care, you will want to apply first aid before setting him up in a hospital cage. If he is bleeding, check to see if the blood is coming from a broken feather. While most feathers will not bleed if they are broken, new feathers, called blood feathers, are still growing and will bleed.

You will need to pull the blood feather completely out to stop the bleeding. Don’t forget to carefully cover your bird’s head with a towel or you may end up bleeding, too. Having a feather pulled out hurts and even the sweetest bird may instinctively lash out and bite you. If your bird is bleeding from a ripped nail or bitten toe, apply styptic powder or flour to the cut to control the bleeding.

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