Pressure Sores & Bumblefoot in Birds (Causes, Symptoms & Treatments)


I’ve seen that the soles of my bird’s feet are reddish and hurting, and they appear to be quite sensitive. What could be causing this?

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Pressure sores on the bottom of the foot are one of the most prevalent issues that we find in pet birds, especially the smaller species of birds. It is typically caused by inappropriate perches, which can be rectified by making adjustments to the positions of the perches.

Because birds are unable to develop calluses on the bottoms of their feet, the scales will eventually wear down and become thinner as a result of prolonged wear. You will observe that there are red sores on the bottom of the foot, in addition to the loss of the regular spherical scales. This is something that will happen. Ulcerations through the skin can occur in severe and chronic cases, which can lead to lameness.

Birds that are kept on perches of the same diameter or birds that are rarely given the opportunity to exercise their wings outside of their cage are more likely to get pressure sores. Their toes will wear away in the same spot, and after enough time, the scales on the bottom of their feet will be completely worn away. When the diameter of the perch is too small, pressure sores can form in the center of the foot, and when the diameter of the perch is too wide, wear can occur on the underside of the hock (ankle). Pressure sores on the hock are typically more harmful than pressure sores on other parts of the body because of the possibility of damage to the tendon that runs beneath the hock. Cockatiels have presented with this kind of hock ulceration more frequently than any other bird species.

Pressure ulcers are something that can be easily avoided. Your bird will benefit from having a range of perch diameters to choose from, as this will help to ensure that wear is distributed more consistently. The cage ought to be outfitted with perches of both a small and a large diameter. Additionally desirable are perches that are flat and wide. Perches that are sold in retail outlets and go by names like “Comfort Perches” are convenient options since they can be adjusted to offer either a narrow or wide area for perching. Additionally, branches from the exterior with a variable diameter can provide the chance for improved wear.

Rubber or plastic tubing can be useful for tiny birds because it will give a wider and softer surface than a traditional perch. It is important to provide non-rigid perches for little birds, such as canaries and finches because these species are known to continually move around their perches. Swings, tubes, and clotheslines are all great options for perches since they “give” as the bird leaps around on them, making it easier on their feet.

If you are concerned that your bird may have pressure sores, you should lift it up and examine the bottoms of its feet. You will be able to make an informed judgment regarding the appropriate perching that is required once you have determined the level of wear. If there are wounds present, cushioning the perches should be done until the wounds have healed. Paper towels and scotch tape, Dr. Scholl’s moleskin, or another sort of toweling or fabric can be used to pad perches. However, care must be given to ensure that the material does not shred or unravel, as this could present an opportunity for the toenails to become entangled. Ulcerations, which are more severe cases, may necessitate the application of bandages to the foot and, in certain circumstances, the use of antibiotics.

Pressure sores can be readily avoided by using appropriate perching and also by allowing your bird(s) freedom outside the cage and the ability to be on a variety of surfaces. Pressure sores can be quite painful for your bird(s). Bring your bird outside and examine both of its feet. The treatment of ulcerations and the “bumblefoot” that can ensue from them is far more difficult than taking preventative measures or detecting the disease at an early stage.

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