First Aid for Pet Birds bird's neck and gently shake the bag to dust the feathers. Allow the powder to stay on for about thirty minutes. Brush off excess.

2. Wrap the bird in a towel, which reduces heat loss and prevents the bird from ingesting the oil.

3. Remove oil from the bird's nostrils, mouth and around her eyes with a moistened cotton swab.

4. Fill a sink with warm water and add a very small amount of dishwashing soap. Protect the bird's eyes and immerse the bird in the water. Wet all affected feathers by handling them gently and following their natural contour. Dip the bird slowly in and out of the water for one to two minutes. Rinse the feathers well with fresh warm water. Immerse the bird in the soapy water and rinse again as needed.

5. Blot the feathers dry with towels. Do not rub the feathers. A hair dryer set on low is also very useful for drying off the bird.

6. Wrap the bird loosely in a towel and place her in a warm cage, aquarium or box. Increase the environmental temperature to 85° to 90° F for a short time until the bird is dry. Avoid exposing the bird to drafts.

7. Provide general supportive care.

8. If oiling is severe, do not try to remove it all at once. The above steps may need to be repeated over several hours or perhaps even days.

9. Observe the bird closely over the next several hours. Shock and dehydration could develop and are serious concerns.

10. Call your avian veterinarian.

Veterinary Treatment

Your avian veterinarian will perform a physical examination. If die bird is unstable, in shock, dehydrated and/

or chilled, these problems will need to be treated first.

Once stable, the oiled feathers will be cleaned.

Hospitalization and close monitoring may also be part 51

First Aid for Pet Birds of the treatment for the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours.


Limit your bird's access to sources of oil, especially in the kitchen and garage areas.


Some poisons can kill a bird quickly. Others can cause clinical signs ranging from a mild digestive tract upset to a violent illness.


A poisoned bird may suddenly regurgitate, develop diarrhea, bloody droppings, redness or burns around her mouth, go into convulsions, become paralyzed, go into shock or any number of other abnormalities.

Home Treatment

First, try to determine what may have poisoned your pet. Birds can be poisoned by inhaling fumes, by ingesting a poisonous plant or chemical, or by coming in contact with a poison on their skin.

Place the poison out of your pet's and family's reach. Flush the bird's eyes or skin with water if the bird was exposed to the poison in these areas. If the bird is overcome by fumes, open all windows in the room or remove the bird from the room and into fresh air as soon as possible.

Call your avian veterinarian and ask to be seen immediately. Be sure to bring the poison and its original container with you to 52 the veterinarian's office.


If your bird is poisoned and you are unable to reach your avian veterinarian's office, you should call the National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC) at the University of Illinois, Champaign/ Urbana. Phones are answered twenty-four hours a day, and each call is handled by a veterinarian who is specially trained in animal poisoning.

You will need to have a credit card handy before calling because there is a charge for this service, but it could mean the difference between life and death for your bird. The NAPCC's numbers are 800/548-2423 (billed as a flat fee) or 900/680-0000 (billed on a per-minute basis).

Veterinary Treatment

Stabilizing the bird is most important, especially if she is in shock, convulsing or having breathing problems. A complete physical and general supportive care will be given. If an anudóte to the poison is available, it will be administered. If ingested, medication can be given to reduce the absorption of the poison into the bloodstream.


You can help prevent poisoning in your bird by following these steps:

• Make sure food and water is always fresh.

• Wash all fruits and vegetables before serving them to your bird.

• Keep potentially poisonous household products out of your bird's reach.

• Do not let your bird fly free in the kitchen or bathroom.

• Do not use products with strong fumes, such as cleaning products, around your bird.

• Do not use fungicides, herbicides, insecticides or rodenticides around your bird without consultíng your avian veterinarian.

• Do not let your bird near your houseplants.

• Do not leave cigarettes or other tobacco products where your bird can reach them. Ideally, do not smoke around your bird, either.

• Do not use nonstick cookware because overheated nonstick items can emit potentially fatal fumes for your bird.

• Immediately consult your avian veterinarian if you suspect any potential poisoning problems in your pet.


Regurgitation, especially in young birds, can indicate a serious health problem. Regurgitation can result from

A. crop infections or blockages, poisoning, thyroid enlargement, infecuons of the lower digestive tract

P< i Birds and other generalized diseases.

In adult birds, regurgitation can also be a normal sign of affection that birds show to a favorite toy or person. In some instances, it can be challenging to determine if the regurgitation is a sign of illness or simply a unique way of showing affection.


A bird regurgitates undigested food from her crop. The bird may have food stuck to her beak, facial feathers or the top of her head. The feathers on the head may also be sticking together.

Home Treatment

It is difficult to make general recommendations for home treatment because there are many different causes for regurgitation in a sick bird.

In young birds, absolutely no home treatment is recommended. Conditions causing regurgitation can be life-threatening. Call your avian veterinarian immediately for an appointment.

In adult birds, try removing toys or mirrors from the cage if those seem to be stimulating the bird to regurgitate.

Although not particularly effective for this problem, Kaopectate or Pepto-Bismol could be given with a plastic medicine dropper to help soothe an inflamed lining of the digestive tract. (See page 35 for recommended dosages.)

Call your avian veterinarian's office for an appointment if your adult bird doesn't improve in twenty-four hours. Remember, home treatment also delays your pet from receiving more specialized veterinary care.

Veterinary Treatment

Your veterinarian will need a history of when the regurgitation began, how often your bird regurgitates and what stimulates her to regurgitate (if that can be 54 determined). A physical examination and diagnostic tests will likely be recommended to determine the cause of the regurgitation. These may include radiographs, microscopic analysis of the contents of the crop and blood tests.


Feathers, skin and toes can be severely damaged by a bird that is picking and gnawing at herself.


Self-mutilation can be difficult to distinguish from other causes of trauma unless a bird is actually seen picking and chewing at herself.

Home Treatment Control the bleeding, if any (see the secdon on bleeding for instructions). Schedule an appointment with your avian veterinarian.

Veterinary Treatment A history and complete physical exam is most important. Diagnostic tests may be recommended to help differentiate between a medical and behavioral cause for the self-mutiladon.

No matter the cause, a restraint collar, bandages or medication should be used to prevent the bird from further injuring herself. There are some very effective behavior-modifying drugs that can help control this obsessive-compulsive behavior.

Antibiotics and anu-mflammatory drugs may also be needed. Once this behavior gets started, even after being cured, it can recur months and sometimes years later.

Srlf-mulilalion, such as feather flicking, is usually caused by an underlying behavioral or medical /iroblem.

Slow Crop Emptying

Slow crop emptying indicates that there is a lack of nutrients and energy being supplied to the body. This is a problem most frequently encountered in young birds or very seriously ill adult birds. Some of the problems that can cause a delayed emptying of the crop are bacterial, fungal or viral infections, some poisons, impactions (food or foreign body), enlarged thyroid gland, lower digestive Uact diseases and other serious illness. Improperly prepared formula in young preweaned birds can also cause this problem.


In young birds, a large pendulous crop that fails to empty after several hours .suggests a problem. Adult birds have a much smaller crop, even when full, relative to their larger size.

Home Treatment

No home treaunent is recommended. Call your avian veterinarian for an appointment.

Veterinary Treatment

The crop is located at the base of the neck. If it is squeezed when full, there is a risk of food being forced back up into the mouth and aspirated into the respiratory tract. Therefore, it is highly recommended that only a veterinarian perform this part of the exam.

After the history and examination, the crop will likely be emptied, lavaged (irrigated or washed out) and its contents microscopically analyzed. Radiographs might also be suggested to rule out foreign objects or ol> structions. General supportive care will be provided as needed. Antibiotics and/or antifungal medications are frequently used to regulate the problem. Occasionally, surgery is necessary to remove a foreign object or an obstruction.

Tissue Protruding from the Bird's Vent

There should never be anything protruding from a bird's vent.

a protrusion from the vent might be the bird's lower 56 intestines, uterus or cloaca. It could also be a tumor or

First Aid for Pel Birds foreign object. To complicate matters, birds may pick on the protruding tissue and can rapidly make the condition critical.


If you see anything protruding from your bird's vent, there is a problem. Exposed tissues could appear red, brown or black in color. The bird may also have a bloody beak from picking at the tissue.

Droppings should not be "stuck" or "pasted" around the vent. An egg may be seen protruding, and if it does not get pushed out in a very short time, your bird could be in trouble. See the section on egg-binding on pages 35 through 37.

Home Treatment No home treatment is recommended. Contact your avian veterinarian's office for immediate care.

In an emergency situation, your avian veterinarian may want to perform an examination and l>egin initial treatment to stabilize your bird prior to speaking with you.

Veterinary Treatment Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination to confirm the prolapse's severity and likely cause. If it is exposed tissue that recently prolapsed and is still moist and healthy, the tissue may be reduced (gently pushed back inside) with a little lubrication and minor surgery performed to keep it in. Tumors may need to be surgically removed, cauterized (heated or application of a caustic substance) or even frozen. A biopsy should be collected to determine the exact type of tumor and its most effective treatment.

In selective cases, major surgery may be required to permanently keep the protruding tissue inside the body.

In an emergency situation, your avian veterinarian may want to perform an examination and l>egin initial treatment to stabilize your bird prior to speaking with you.

What to Expect at the Veterinary Hospital

Rushing your bird to your avian veterinarian's office in an emergency situation is a frightening, stressful thing 57

to go through. Try not to take out your feelings on the veterinarian or the staff members. As caring animal

Pet Birds lovers, they want to see your pet go home healthy as much as you do.

Keep in mind that your veterinarian may not be able to answer questions or talk with you for an extended period of time when you bring your bird in because he or she may need to begin what could be life-saving treatment on your pet. A staff member may act as a messenger between the veterinarian and you.

In cases of minor emergencies, such as an inhaled seed in the bird's nares, you can wait while the veterinarian treats your bird and take her home with you within the hour. In other cases, where surgery or other treatment is required, it may be best to go home and wait for the veterinarian to call you when your pet is stable.

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