Keeping Your Bird Healthy + Signs Of Illness

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You should immediately find a good avian (bird) veterinarian now before your bird has an emergency; preferably, before you even HAVE a bird!

The best way to do this is to find other bird owners and ask them who they use. Join a local bird club, and ask members who they recommend.

Don’t just pick any vet from the internet, like you can do with dogs and cats. Some vets know nothing about birds but will “experiment” on your bird anyway so they don’t lose the money. Find a vet that specializes in birds. If you happen to find more than one, go and interview them to decide. Ask if they own birds, breed birds, do they have their own laboratory? (This can be important if your bird is sick and test results are needed immediately. Some outside labs take two weeks or longer-your bird could be dead by then!) Do they handle emergencies at night and on weekends? Watch them handle your bird-are they gentle? Do they act as if your bird is special or just another case? Does the vet answer your questions, or act as if you are wasting his time? Choose a vet that you feel comfortable with. Don’t just go with the first one because they are there. The interview process may cost some money, but it will all be worth it when your bird becomes ill or injured.

Get to know your bird! I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to know how your bird behaves in all situations. This way, when your bird becomes ill, you will recognize a change in behavior and can possibly save its life.

Birds do not show their illnesses in a recognizable manner until they are truly almost dead. In the wild, a bird that acts sick is a target for any predator that comes along, so birds hide their illnesses very well until they just can’t stand up anymore. There are some warning signs of possible health problems for which you should always be on the lookout.

Warning Signs Of Possible Illness In Your Pet Bird

  • Watch to be sure the bird is eating approximately the same amount every day. A little more or less than the previous day is normal, but a marked decrease over two or more days usually means something is wrong.
  • Watch the water intake. Continually drinking huge amounts of water is a sign of health problems.
  • Check its droppings (this is why the cage should be fairly clean at all times). Several watery droppings consecutively could indicate illness (be sure it isn’t just caused by an excess of fruit or vegetables before you panic). Very dark or bloody droppings are a sign of trouble, as are no droppings at all for more than two hours. (Be aware that variations in the normal diet can cause discolored droppings-think hard about what you fed your bird before you panic over dropping color changes).
  • Watch the feathers around the nostrils, and the nostrils themselves. If the feathers are continually wet for more than a few hours, or if the nostrils start to look clogged, the bird could be developing respiratory problems.
  • Listen to the bird’s breathing. If you hear unusual rattling sounds, or if the bird wheezes a lot, it could be sick.
  • Sitting fluffed up and not moving as much as usual for more than an hour or two. Sick birds sit still to conserve body energy.
  • If you notice any of these symptoms, don’t just wait to see what the bird will do next-the bird might die before you realize just how sick it was. Take the bird to a qualified vet at the first sign of illness.
  • Never use store-bought medicines on your bird, whether they are meant for birds or not. You may be treating the symptoms but not the cause, and could inadvertently kill the bird. It is better to take the bird to the vet and find out what’s wrong than take that risk.

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