Bird Illnesses

Bird Illnesses

Disclaimer: The below mentioned is for information purposes only. Your veterinarian is always your best choice for keeping your bird healthy.

When bringing home a new bird, it is best to not cage it with any others at first. This is to make sure he does not spread the illness among the other members. Whether it is a new bird, or one you have had for awhile, he may become sick. If you notice any signs if illness, separate him from the others immediately.

Your bird may go through a period of losing feathers, called "molting". While this condition looks bad, it is not a problem. During this time he may not eat well, and may be quiet. In careful observation, you should be able to tell if this is happening, or the beginning of sickness. This is different than "French Molt" or feather plucking.

If the bird's feathers on the tail and wings are shedding all the time, and he looks "shabby" it may be French Molt. Those who suffer from this, on average, have a shorter life-span than those who do not. The reason for this condition is not known. Dipping the bird in a disinfectant has been known to help.

Feather plucking is believed to be caused by a lack of mineral content in the diet. Birds housed alone are also more prone to this. He will usually pull out a feather, chew on it, and then pull out more, including the new growth. The picking and pulling causes red and inflamed areas which can become infected. Sometimes just adding fruit tree branches takes care of the problem. Adding a solution of sodium chloride helps.

Some common signs of illness; runny nose, shivering, feet feel hot, glassy, red, or watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, rapid breathing, and hiding the head in the plumage. He may seem lethargic (not active).

Loose droppings (feces) are another indicator of possible bad health. But, if no other symptoms are present, it may have been due to a change in his diet. Have you added something new, or changed feed brands? If so, this can clear up on its own, just keep an eye on him see. You can add a few drops of Vitamin B12 to his drinking water.

Use a regular cage for the "sick room" or hospital cage. Cover the back and sides of the cage with a heavy cloth. A light bulb or heating pad placed in the cage can provide warmth. Watch the bird closely to make sure he does not become too hot. Leave the front of the cage uncovered so he can look around.

Remove his perches and place his feeding and watering dishes on the floor of the cage. An ill bird can lose his equilibrium and fall, thus hurting himself. Lower his cuttlebone for easy access. Add antibiotics to his water.

Does he scratch a lot? Cause may be mites, lice or other parasites. Sometimes you can see the bugs crawling on the bird. Sprays are available at the pet store. Spray the bird, scrub and spray the cage for a couple of weeks to ensure you eliminate the problem. If using wooden perches, it may be better to insert new ones instead of spraying and cleaning them.

Birds do need to be wormed in the spring and fall. Remove ALL food, water for two days. ALL of it. Then, purchase an anthelminthic from your pet shop or veterinarian. Place the medication in his drinking water. If he is sick or listless, hand-feed the medication to him.

Sometimes a bird will develop what is called "sour crop." If left too long untreated, antibiotics obtained from your veterinarian will be necessary. If the bird's crop is bulging and has a strange odor, it may be sour crop. Hold the bird belly up, and softly work the food up the bird's throat. Using a syringe wash out the crop with a mixture of 1/4 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and water.

Shock can be caused by any number of stressful things. From a scare, injury, or sudden change in temperature. If he seems lifeless, breathing is shallow, feels clammy and just "not with it" he may be suffering from shock. This is a serious life-threatening condition and must be treated immediately. If he is not able to stand on his own, wrap in a warm cloth. Isolate him, place a covered heating pad on the floor of his cage, temperatures 85 to 95 degrees F. He should come out of the shock in a day's times. If not, call your veterinarian immediately.

Egg-binding is when the hen cannot expel her egg. A healthy diet, plenty of exercise, cuttlebones and grit helps make sure she will not suffer from this--but sometimes they still do. If the egg blocks the passage too long, she cannot expel waste and then she can die from toxemia. With another person, hold the bird belly-up. Lubricate the cloaca (opening where the egg will come out) with water, cooking oil, or mineral oil. Place her in a warm hospital cage and she should lay her egg in a manner of hours. You can also hold her belly-up and LIGHTLY add pressure from your finger to help expel the egg. Find the upper end of the egg and push gently towards the opening.

For general over-all health, on nice days you can hang your cage outdoors. He will like looking around and smelling the fresh air. Make sure the cage is secure and away from the danger of other animals. Locate out of direct sunlight. If he does get over-heated. You can spray with cool water or use a cool wet cloth to wrap around him.


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