Sick Pet Birds - Nursing Care

General information

Many sick birds can be treated by their owners at home. While some birds are gravely ill and require hospitalization, most birds can recover with proper treatment and care at home. This handout will provide you with some tips to help your bird's recovery.

Give all medications as directed

"If you do not give the medication as directed, your bird may not recover and may actually relapse."

In order for your bird to have a good chance of recovery, you must administer the medication as directed. Many owners are unable to administer medication properly to their pet birds. Others stop treatment before the medication is finished, thinking the bird has recovered just because he is "doing better". If you do not give the medication as directed, your bird may not recover and may actually relapse, necessitating a more prolonged second round of therapy. If you are uncomfortable administering medication to your bird, please inform clinic staff and consider having him hospitalized for a more intense and exacting treatment.


Keep the bird warm and free from draftsnursing_a_sick_bird-1

Most pets recover faster when kept at the upper end of their normal environmental temperature, which is,75 - 80° F (22 - 25° C). Increased body temperature stimulates appetite, improves digestion, and stimulates the body's defenses to fight infections.


Supply normal amounts of light and darkness

nursing_a_sick_bird-2Unless otherwise directed, most birds become accustomed to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness each day. Leaving the light on 24 hours a day will probably add to your bird's stress during recovery.


Make sure the bird eats and drinks

Sick pets burn off calories and dehydrate easily. This makes the disease even more serious and prolongs recovery. If your bird is not eating and drinking as he should, notify your veterinarian immediately.


Avoid stress

Sick birds are already under excessive stress. While it is tempting to want to play with your bird, minimal handling is best while the bird is recuperating. Avoid sudden diet and environmental changes while your bird is ill. Try to avoid the temptation (of kindhearted humans) to stay up all hours of the day with your bird as he needs his rest and so do you.


Separate sick birds

A bird that is ill should be isolated from other pets, preferably in a separate room. You do not want more than one sick pet. This is also not the time to bring a new pet into the household.

Notify your personal physician if you become ill

While not often the case, some bird diseases can be transmitted to owners. Your veterinarian should tell you if your bird has become ill with one of these diseases. If so, notify your physician, in case your doctor recommends that you should take medication as well.


Notify your veterinarian if the bird's condition worsens

If treatment or recovery is not going as expected, your veterinarian needs to know this. Your veterinarian may need to change medication or even hospitalize your bird if his condition deteriorates. No one can guarantee a cure.

This client information sheet is based on material written by: Rick Axelson, DVM

© Copyright 2009 Lifelearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.