Birdie First Aid

First Aid for your Exotic Pet Bird or Parrot

Although you cannot dial 911, you should have your Avian Veterinarian’s phone number close at hand. When a bird is sick, he or she hides it well because in nature, the flock, out of fear of disease, might harm a bird that appears ill so as to protect the flock from all becoming sick.

Therefore, by the time you notice signs of illness in your parrot, the bird may have already been sick for some time. Be in touch with your bird’s personality and characteristics that are “normal”, so that you will recognize any signs of “abnormal” behavior.

What should you watch for as “abnormal” behavior?

  • Respiratory distress of any kind, difficulty breathing.
  • Lack of appetite. You may notice food untouched or clean water that normally is used to soak food in.
  • Sleeping and “puffed” up. The bird will always have his eyes closed when you walk by, or does not open his eyes as quickly as usual, so that you notice that he’s sleeping a lot. He has a “puffy” appearance.
  • He sits hunched on his perch or goes to the bottom of the cage and does not perch and his feathers appear fluffy, not smooth.
  • He’s quiet, not talking or calling.
  • You may see runny droppings or lack of droppings in the cage bottom.
  • You should always be aware if you notice nasal discharge or runny eyes and any vomiting should alert you although regurgitation is not always a sign of disease. Regurgitation can actually be a sign of “affection” or courtship behavior. However, vomiting is much messier in general and is not as solid as regurgitation. The bird will shake his head and therefore “spray” when he is vomiting, as opposed to a more solid pile deposited in the cage or on you.

In addition to illness, any trauma should be evaluated by a Vet, in addition to any abnormal swelling or growth on your bird. If your bird were to suffer a seizure, prompt Avian Veterinary care is required as it would be for any bleeding the bird suffers. In a female bird, reproductive issues can develop such as egg binding or continual egg laying, and these too require a call to your Vet.

Establish a relationship with your Vet so that if you need him in an emergency situation, he knows you, and your bird. He should have a well bird weight on file for your pet and that’s the best place to start when examining a bird who is ill. If you believe you have a sick bird, do not wait. Prompt medical attention is a life saver. But is also a good idea to have a birdie first aid kit.

Your birdie first aid kit can be purchased complete with many items that you might need in case of an emergency.

However, you can also put one together on your own. It should always include the following items:

Styptic Powder this should stop any bleeding from a broken blood feather, toenail, or injury.

I also keep Liquid Band Aid on hand. I use Band-Aid Brand as it has little smell. NO, THIS IS NOT THE BEST THING FOR A BIRD TO SMELL OR CHEW, but when your bird is in an emergency situation with bleeding, it does work and may be necessary when styptic powder won’t stop the bleeding. If it’s a smaller bleed, and you do not have styptic on hand, I recommend you try flour or cornstarch in an emergency.

Heat Pad or Lamp Heat is very medicinal to birds and a sick bird may not be able to maintain his own body temperature until you can reach medical care. Ideally, some type of tub or small cage works best.

Be sure the bird still has access to food and water easily. MONITOR how you provide heat so that you do not overheat your bird.

Bandage Material can be used to apply pressure to a wound until you reach medical care.

You might also want to have close by a TOWEL to be used if it is necessary to restrain the bird.

IODINE and/or BETADYNE should be included to sanitize a wound.

And it’s always recommended to have an adequate BIRD SAFE CARRIER ready, should you need to travel to your Vet’s office, or to quickly get your bird out of your house should an environmental emergency develop.

BE PREPARED: just like with children, emergencies with our pets happen when we least expects it!