When Budgies Get Sick - Part 2
No matter how much we love them, or how well we take care of them, sometimes the inevitable happens: our budgie gets sick. This can be very disconcerting. What can you do for your little friend, and how serious is it? Do you need a vet? Is there anything you can do to help speed up the healing process? Or maybe you want some helpful tips on preventing illness in birds. No worries, you're on the right page.
Difficult to Spot
Do you need a vet?
What you can do
(For 1 and 2, please refer to the previous chapter, When Budgies Get Sick - Part 1).
3. Do you need a vet?
There is a very simple answer to this question. If you're in doubt, consult a vet.
Ofcourse, not everyone has easy access to a vet, or the financial means to just go whenever you think you see a single feather out of place. You want to be relatively sure that if you go to the vet, it won't be to just get sent home with a simple "let him rest and he'll be okay".
In fact, many people go on forums asking whether they should go to the vet, only to be given that oneliner. That's not useful advice. Luckily, there are some very clear indications that you should go to the vet.
So what should you be on the look-out for?
First, let's address the fact the question is already in your mind. Since you know your bird better than anyone else, it's very likely that you noticed something is different with your pet. Maybe their nose has changed color, maybe they're sleeping a lot more, maybe they move differently or stopped playing. It can be anything! But having this idea gnawing in your head is in itself a good indicator that your bird may be sick.
In the first chapter, you were given a quick checklist to see if your bird is sick. Generally speaking, if your budgie shows any of the signs on that list, it's probably best to go to a vet, but if you really can't go and you don't see any sign of a real emergency yet, it's best at this point to isolate the bird from others, so anything contagious won't spread through the flock.
Make sure the cage is very clean, the water is very clean, and the bird can't harm itself (ie, nothing sharp or pointy). Keep it warm and out of the wind. And keep a good eye on it for the signs in the checklist. You should already start looking for an avian vet you can get to, what it might cost and how you're going to get there. Get ready to get up and go in a moment's notice if necessary.
Ofcourse, if you can afford it, then please, go to the vet! It's better to be safe than sorry. Especially given the rapid progression of illnesses in budgies.
When a budgie starts showing clear signs of illness, it's usually already too late, whereas when you go in the doubting phase, there's a much higher chance of being able to cure it.
Go to an avian vet whenever possible.
Although they'll rarely care to admit it, most regular vets have had virtually no training on bird health and really don't know any more than you or I when it comes to treating their health. Birds need a very specific treatment and have their own range of diseases. Therefore, finding a bird vet could be the best thing you could do for your little friend.
How often have you had to go to the vet?
4. What you can do - First Aid for birds
In some countries, you can find a ready-made first aid kit for birds in the petstore. Ofcourse, not everyone can just go out and buy it, so many of you will be wanting to know how to make one yourself.
Find a box or container that you will be using to store your first aid supplies in. Write your name, and that of your bird on a piece of paper, along with the name, phone number and address of the nearest avian vet. When you'll be needing this kit, and if you own a bird you more than likely will need it at least once, you won't have the time to leisurely browse the web or a book looking for a good vet. If there is such a thing in your country, also add the nearest veterinarian clinic. My birds are usually in perfect health, but whenever they have a problem, it's in a weekend, at night or on a holiday. It's like they time these things!
Keep your kit where you can easily find it when you need it.
- Contents for an avian first aid kit...
- Antiseptic wipes
- Hydrogen peroxide
- A pair of pliers
- Nail clippers
- Cotton swabs
- Sterile gauze (both pads and bandages)
- Medical tape
- Feeding syringe
- Fresh clean water
- Alcohol pads (sterilizing your tools and the cage)
- Hand sanitizer
- A heating pad
- A heat lamp
- A transporter cage with a soft clean towel in it
Also always keep some eggfood around (keep an eye on the expiration date!). Some sick budgies will refuse to eat anything else. If it works, you can also give some millet or even baby bird formula!
Using Human First Aid as a basis
When you take a First Aid class, you are taught some basic principles. These can also apply to an avian emergency!
These steps are:
- Ensure safety
- Establish the condition the victim is in
- Call for help
- Give further first aid
... in that order.
First, you should make absolutely sure there is no further danger, neither for yourself or the other animals in your household. If there's a hazardous object, remove it or make sure your birds can no longer get to it. Then, take a good look at your bird: is it conscious? Is it breathing as it should? Is it moving? Do you see any blood? How do its limbs look?
Calm yourself down. If you're panicking, you won't think as clearly and that can make a difference.
Ofcourse, when you're dealing with an injured bird, you'll not be calling 911. Instead, you call your avian vet or the avian clinic. While making that phone call, it's important to ask the vet if there's anything you can do in terms of first aid before you can go see him. After all, while most vets will make time to see an emergency, you won't be there in 2 minutes. You might need to do something to ensure your bird has the best chances of survival. Remember to keep calm yourself!
The vet's instructions always take priority! If he hasn't given any, get a safe transporter cage, put the towel in it, and then as gently as you can, put your bird in. Now you're ready to go see your vet.
Keep your bird as calm as you can. Shock can be lethal to a budgie. If it helps, try gently talking to your bird in a high voice.
Stabilizing your bird...
Don't try to set the broken bone yourself. That's the vet's job. Instead, gently pick up your bird and place him in the transporter with the soft towel. There shouldn't be any perches or toys in the cage as this may cause the bird to further injure itself.
Swollen or infected leg
Look for a thread or anything else cutting off bloodflow to the bird's leg. Immediately take your pet to a vet!
If it's bleeding badly, gently hold your bird and pull out the broken feather using tweezers. Pull it out grabbing it as close as possible to the skin (don't grab your bird too tight though!). Then apply some flour to the wound and keep pressing it for about 10 minutes. It should stop bleeding in this time.
Make a solution of 3 parts hydrogen peroxide to 100 parts of water. Dip a Q-Tip or some gauze in this solution and gently clean the wound.
Apply direct pressure to the wound using a gauze pad. If the skin keeps bleeding, again use some flour to coagulate the blood. Be careful not to get any flour in the bird's eyes, ears or nostrils.
Heat stroke or burns
Get your bird inside or where there's shade. Mist it with water until it's soaked through and try to get it to drink fresh clean water. If it's unable to sit up to drink, drop some water into its beak (not too much, just a few drops). For burns, also mist the burned area and apply an ointment according to the type of burn. For instance, for a burn caused by oil, apply cornstarch to absorb the oil, and cool water after. Ammonia burns, you can clean the wound with water, then apply some vinegar. For acid burns, clean with water, then make a paste of baking soda and water.
Spilt oil on a bird's feathers
Immediately go to the vet!
If your bird's vent seems to be hanging out of your bird, whether or not you see an egg, immediately go to the vet and do not try to treat this yourself! This is incredibly painful and highly life threatening! Keep the prolapsed skin moist to give your bird the highest chances.
Egg stuck inside the bird
This is called egg-binding and is extremely dangerous and painful. Follow the same procedure as for an ovary prolapse. Do not try to break the egg to get it out yourself! This is very important. If just a tiny part of the egg stays inside the bird or you make a wrong move, you could kill the bird, or it could get a very bad infection that will kill it later!
5. Preventing illness
Ofcourse, everyone wants their birds to live a long and disease-free life. In order to prevent budgies from getting sick, there are some things you can do.
First, try to find out as much as you can about budgies. The more you know, the better prepared you are. Budgies shouldn't be kept alone, they need a friend. Make sure they get enough daylight. Give them time outside of their cage so they can keep fit. Keep the cage clean and provide fresh water and a balanced meal daily. Avoid poisonous plants in the house that they might nibble on. Change the layout of their cage frequently so they won't get bored. Teach yourself first aid for birds and read up on their nutritional requirements.
And don't forget to bond with them whenever you can. Having a warm and loving home is the most important contribution to a healthy and happy life you can give them!
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- Birds Online
A very extensive collection of articles on budgies and their health, strongly recommended.
- TalkBudgies.com Homepage
A very large forum with a lot of information on virtually any topic!
- 10 Most Common Budgie Diseases - Page 1
Pet Information - Pet Place is the number one source for pet care information and pet health information with over 5,000 veterinarian approved articles.
- Budgies, Budgerigars Bird Information, Budgie Care Advice
- Budgerigars.co.uk — Everything you ever wanted to know about our feathered friends!
- The Budgie Cage
It's tough to deal with a sick budgie, but there are times when it is better to know what you are dealing with rather than letting it go! There are a number of Budgie diseases and budgie sicknesses and here is a list of some of them.