Recent papers by avian veterinary professionals highly advise that you create a connection with an avian vet before you have an emergency. They suggest that while many veterinarians will respond to crises for their own customers, developing a connection between your bird and a veterinarian is a good idea. They also urge that you bring your bird in for a well-bird inspection, weight recording, and lab testing. They suggest a full blood count and maybe a blood chemistry panel on your bird so that they can compare the findings if it becomes unwell. In addition, an avian veterinarian may discover subclinical sickness or disease that is not yet making the bird unwell enough to be obvious. Many crises and emergencies may be avoided by detecting and treating subclinical sickness, which often happens on weekends, nights, and holidays! Taking your bird in for regular checks is the finest insurance you can have for your bird’s health.
There is no such thing as a “cold” in the avian world! It seems to be a widely held belief that birds, like their human owners, get colds. What seems to the owner to be a “cold” in a bird might be one of many types of upper respiratory tract issues. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, the following and need an emergency visit to your avian veterinarian!
- – Increased respiratory rate
- – Tail bobbing at rest
- – Noisy breathing
- – Coughing
- – Sneezing
- – Nasal or eye discharge
- – Swelling around the eyes
- – Change in tone or voice
- – Lethargy
- – Ruffled feathers
- – Weakness
- – Loss of appetite
Symptoms of illness
It might be difficult to discern whether a bird is sick. Because they are prey animals rather than predators like most of our familiar pets, they conceal their disease so that a predator does not target them as easy meal. Knowing your bird well and being vigilant for big changes will give you the greatest opportunity of spotting an illness in its early, curable stage.
Some warning indicators to check for include:
- — Listlessness, lack of energy, and lack of interest in normal activities.
- — Dull, rough, unpreened feathers or a general ungroomed look.
- — Fluffed up feathers despite moderate room temperature.
- — Abnormal feather growth.
- — Not perching/sleeping on the bottom of the cage.
- — Discharge from the eyes or nose.
- — Wheezing, clicking or raspy sounds when breathing (normal breathing is silent).
- — Tail-assisted breathing. That is, the tail moves up and down pumping to aid air through distressed lungs.
- — Runny droppings. A foul odor from either the bird or its droppings.
- — A pasted vent – dropping stuck to the feathers around the vent.
- — Vomiting.
- — Bleeding.
- — Any kind of growth, sore, blemish, wart, skin abnormality, etc.
- — A vague feeling that something about your bird isn’t quite right.
If you carefully monitor and know your bird, you can usually trust your instincts when anything seems out of the norm, even if you can’t pinpoint a particular symptom.
A sick bird should always be treated as an emergency and sent to an avian vet as soon as possible!
NEVER, EVER attempt to treat your bird’s condition with over-the-counter medications. When you notice a bird is unwell, the illness is typically advanced. Delaying a visit to an avian vet and concealing the problem with over-the-counter medications is quite likely to result in your bird’s death. To find an avian veterinarian near you, go to http://www.aav.org.
Keep the bird warm (85-90F degrees), calm, and in tight confinement until you can bring it to the doctor. Give him fresh water and his favorite meals. You may use a 10-15 gallon (clean and empty) fish tank as a hospital cage. Place a heating pad on top of the tank and turn it on low. If you don’t have an empty and clean fish tank, you may attach a heating pad to the outside of the cage near the bird’s favorite perch, set it to low, and cover the cage on three sides with a sheet or towel to keep the heat in. Heat strengthens a bird’s immune system, thus he may feel better after some time on heat. Don’t let this trick you into believing the bird is OK and no longer requires veterinary treatment. This is simply a temporary repair; send the bird to an avian vet as soon as possible. If the bird is bleeding, apply pressure to attempt to stop the bleeding and send the bird to an avian veterinarian as soon as possible.
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