Common Bird Injuries And Emergencies

Common bird injuries and emergencies. Would you know what to do in an emergency situation? Here's a handy guide for some common avian emergencies.

Every bird owner should keep a first aid kit handy. You never know when that mischievous parrot will play just a bit too rambunctiously and get hurt. Birds have injured themselves seriously enough on toys to cause bleeding. Sometimes panicked birds will thrash around in their cages and break a blood feather. And there is always a chance of an accident when you are clipping your bird's wings or trimming its toenails. If bleeding occurs for whatever reason, you don't want to waste precious seconds. Make up an avian first aid kit and keep it in the bird room.

You'll need some soft, absorbent cloths (clean, old towels are excellent), styptic powder or a styptic pencil, or a supply of cautery sticks. It's a good idea to keep the phone number of your favorite veterinarian taped to the first aid kit or entered on the speed dial of your telephone. If your bird is bleeding, you don't want to waste time digging around trying to find the number. Birds can bleed to death in a short time, and there's not a second to waste in an emergency.

Styptic powder and pencils can usually be found in drug stores--look where the shaving supplies are sold, or ask the druggest to help you. These items work by drying up the blood and helping it clot. Cautery sticks can be gotten from the veterinarian's office for less than half a dollar each. These contain the chemical "Ėœsilver nitrate' and work by cauterizing, or burning, the injured area closed. Using cautery sticks can be painful for the bird but are a very effective way to stop the bleeding.



If you don't have styptic powder or cautery sticks, you can use flour or cornstarch instead. You may want to keep a small plastic bowl full of either of these items in your first aid kit.

When the injury is a bleeding toenail, you will need to pack it with either the styptic powder or flour and apply pressure. It's helpful to gently restrain the bird in a towel or blanket to prevent it from thrashing around and losing more blood. Hold the bird's foot securely and gently press your towel or cloth to the bleeding nail. Don't release pressure for at least five minutes. If the bleeding has stopped, you can let the bird out of the restraints. But if it is still bleeding, maintain the pressure until the blood clots. If you prefer, touch a cautery stick to the bleeding nail. Be prepared for the bird to struggle.

If your bird has broken a blood feather and has been thrashing around in its cage, there may be what looks like a lot of blood splashed around. This can be frightening for both you and the bird. Try to stay calm--it will help the bird calm down.

You will need to catch the bird in a towel or blanket and check carefully to see what is going on. If the feather shaft is broken, you may have to remove it with a pair of pliers. Have your veterinarian show you how this is done BEFORE your bird has any blood feather emergencies. Once the broken shaft is removed, pack the injury with flour or styptic powder and apply gentle pressure, being careful not to squeeze the bird too tightly.

It's a good idea to have a helper standing by, especially if the injured bird is a large parrot. That way there will be one person to restrain and comfort the bird while the other person takes care of the injury. You will also want to be careful about how you restrain the bird--don't put a lot of pressure on its chest or you will cause it to suffer breathing problems. And you'll want to make sure your fingers aren't too close to the beak or you'll get bitten! Then you'll have to control your own bleeding.

With a little advance planning and a well stocked first aid kit, you will be able to take care of most simple emergencies. If your parrot is injured seriously don't waste time--rush it to the nearest veterinarian's office. Companion birds are wonderful additions to our lives. Let's be prepared for anything!

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