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Symptoms & Treatments

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BodyEyesEarsFeathersLegsMites & LiceMouthVentWingsWormsCommon Problems of Different Species

Weak, thin, eyes closed, puffed up, generally looking sick:

1.  Rehydrate with warm gatorade as often as the crop empties. Generally give 10% of body weight at a time of a bird can stand that much. First 24-72 hours, sprinkle little formula in gatorade so watery. If bird starts perking up, slowly thicken formula over 1-2 weeks, depending on how sick the bird is.
2.  Keep in incubator (bin with heating pad underneath) -like warmth at first!
3.  Keep covered and quiet to decrease stress and allow bird to rest.
4.  Usually put bird on baytril in case a bacterial infection is causing the sickness-2x per day for 14 days.
5.  If a zebra dove, mtn dove, or pigeon, especially if eyes are red and swollen also put on metronidazole in case of trich and nystatin to avoid yeast infection. If eyes are affected see “swollen eyes” section.

If you see a bubble somewhere on the birds' body, usually under the wings or high up under the legs (can be rarely seen in the crop area pushing the head back), it is a burst air sac just under the skin.
1.  Use a sterile needle tip -safety pins right out of the pkg, work fine to poke a hole in the bubble. Go in and out to make 2 holes, then squeeze the air out. Do this as often as possible throughout the day, as it will usually fill right back up again with air as the bird breathes. Eventually (one bulbul took 6 days, but it’s usually less) the sac will heal and no more bubbles.
2.  Put the bird on baytril as precaution against infection. Discontinue after 5-7 days if air sac has healed.

This is not uncommon in baby birds when they fall out of the nest. I have never seen it in an adult bird.

Starts as small red bumps on soft tissue areas- around eyes, ears, mouth, legs, feet and under wings. Can remain mild with just a few bumps, but usually progresses to a more serious condition. This is a virus that must run its course usually several weeks or months. There is no cure (yet).

Treatment is supportive:
1.  Baytril to guard against secondary infections.
2.  Good nutrition- hand feed young ones, add vitamins (poly vi sol -direct drops into mouth) if eating seed.
3.  Plenty of fresh water.
4.  Keep cage clean, especially if feet are affected.
5  As pox lesions turn dark yellow or black and harden, they can be gently pulled off and a drop of betadine put on fresh exposed area to minimize infection

-Contagious to other birds if sharing body fluids (eating drinking, pooping together), so keep in separate cage or put in with another pox bird.
-If pox gets into mouth “wet pox”, it gets harder for the bird to fight it because this is a more serious form just be aware, there is nothing we can do to stop it.

Minor skin abrasions are okay and usually don’t need treatment. However, they may be a sign of a cat or other predator attack, so:

1. Put on baytril (5 days only if clearing up).
2. If dirty or definitely from a cat, flush with water and 10% hydrogen peroxide and/or betadine once or twice, then should be okay.

Deeper wounds, punctures wounds, infected (black) skin:
1. Pull debris out with tweezers-only after bird is stable- be careful as some species will stress easily- you may need to do a little at a time after 2-3 days to stabilize bird.
2. Flush wound with above solution until it starts closing up. You may need to pull out debris every few days if not closing up.
3. Keep on baytril until wounds are healed.

Skin split on skull: (Common on young birds who get picked on)
1. Dab aloe from microwave table (fresh from plant is best) with Q-tip on exposed skull 2x per day- small holes will close themselves, bigger ones need to be stitched.
2. Keep on baytril until healed.

A twitchy bird or tremors through the body can be the result of poisoning, virus infection or trauma. Something is affecting the neurological system.

1. If poisoning seems likely, crush one charcoal tablet (Long’s sells at pharmacy dept.).
Very fine and mix in gatorade and give like for a dehydrated bird. Do once a day for 3 days.
2. Give supportive care- heat, fluids, baytril and extra vitamins (poly vi sol).
3. Support in towels to keep bird upright and stable.

-It usually takes a very long time, as in several months, for a neurological problem to work through the system. There is usually some improvement, but not always full recovery. Some birds have to be handfed much of this time until they finally feel well enough to feed themselves. After the first couple of weeks, give them as much freedom as possible in a safe environment to practice walking, getting balanced back and flying if possible.

Sometimes baby pigeons’ crops will stretch too far, hanging down low and unable to move the food through the system.

If this happens, make a “support bra” by wrapping a piece of ½ inch first aid tape around the very bottom of the crop, just above the breastbone, and bring it up and under the wings, overlapping behind the neck. Feed the bird smaller amounts more frequently so as to not keep stretching the crop, and because the crop area will now be smaller and able to hold less food. The food sitting in the crop initially might need to be flushed out if the crop does not empty the first few hours after putting on the support tape. The tape can usually be removed in 2 weeks, after the crop muscle has regained its normal size.

Doves and pigeons of all ages can have holes in their crops from trauma, trich, predator attacks, pellets, darts, or burned from too hot formula. Crop holes are often discovered when the bird is given Gatorade or formula and it runs out over the front of the bird.

1. Assess the extent of the damage and gently clean off debris or formula to reduce risk of infection.
2. Put bird on baytril and keep on heat (inject baytril so it stays in the bird).
3. The bird must be given fluids if it can’t see a vet right way. If the hole is up high, insert crop needle down past the hole and give small amount of fluids or food. Repeat every 2-3 hours. If the hole is near the bottom of the crop is too large, fluids won’t stay in, so birds must be injected with lactated ringer solution on the breast muscles and/or near the skin on the back of the neck.
4. A very small hole can sometimes heal itself, but generally the bird will need to see a vet for stitches ASAP.

This condition is commonly found in doves and pigeons. Food sits in the crop fermenting and developing bacteria because it cannot pass through the digestive system.

Causes can include:
1. Bacterial infection in the crop or elsewhere in the body.
2.Eating something that makes the bird sick, like spoiled or soured food from someone’s picnic.
3. Dehydration- this often happens after intake when birds are fed formula before they are rehydrated with fluids, or are given formula that is too thick, too soon, or are given too much for their size,. The birds’ body pulls the liquid out, leaving thick formula in the crop with not enough moisture to move it along the digestive system.
4. Any other condition that causes the bird to get sick and slows down the digestive process (e.g. virus, egg binding, trich, pox, poisoning, etc.)

1. The best treatment is to pull out the sour food or liquid with a crop needle, then put warm water in the crop and massage it gently before pulling it out again. Repeat the process a few times. The whole process may need to be repeated at each feeding until the crop is emptying properly.
2. An alternative treatment is to give the bird warm apple juice and massage the crop gently to help with digestion. Gatorade or warm water can be used if apple juice is not available. At the next feeding repeat the process if the crop has not yet emptied and check if poop are coming out normal-keep in mind that the longer food stays in the crop, the more it will sour and make the bird sick. If this method does not work within several hours (24 at most) the crop needs to be flushed out as in treatment # 1.
3. Feed the bird a much thinner formula in smaller amounts until the crop is emptying better. Check the poop for formation and color to also indicate digestion is working properly.
4. Put the bird on baytril and nystatin in case of yeast infection for 10-14 days.
5. The bird needs to be on heat until its condition stabilizes.

Swollen, puffy, redness, irritated eyes-

A. If baby or young sparrow, mynah chick or any other species, or adolescent/adult mountain dove- this is often eyeworms (can be found in all species).
1. Lift eyelid high and observe for squiggly worms or squeeze a couple drops of saline solution (for contact lenses) in eye and the salt will bring worms to surface.
2. Treat with one drop Ivermectin solution (diluted in water) in each eye. Worms should disappear within 24 hours.
3. If eyes are badly damaged, treat bird with triple antibiotic eye ointment (like vetropolycin-(Dr. Myatt sells it) twice a day for 10-14 days.

B. If adult mnt dove or any other species, it can be caused by upper respiratory infection:
1.Treat with baytril twice a day 10-14 days and eye ointment described above.
2. In mnt doves, trich often goes up into the sinuses and seems to affect the eyes, so it is advisable to also treat with metronidazole and nystatin 2x/d for 14 days.

*When using eye ointment, just the smallest dab is adequate. Squeeze a little extra on a Kleenex after finished if using on another bird.

Usually just one eye is either traumatized by hitting car, window, building, etc or pecked at by another bird.

If the eye is swollen shut, do not attempt to pry it open at least the first 24 hours, because the bird will be very stressed.

1. Put the bird on baytril twice a day for 10-14 days.
2. Gently squeeze sterile saline solution on eye, even if it appears swollen shut as some might seep in.
3. As eye opens over the next few days, or as you can gently separate the lids to check for damage, stop flushing and switch to putting small dab of vetropolycin in
eye twice a day until if gets better. You can also use gentamicin eye drops 4 times
per day instead of the ointment- be sure to get eye drops w/o steroids (dexamethasone).

*Use the smallest dab necessary- it will spread out over eye. Do not cross contaminate another bird’s eyes- wipe a little off the end of the tube before
Using on a different bird.

Wet feathers around opening usually indicate drainage from an ear infection, also look
for the hole being slightly enlarged compared to the other one. Other symptoms are odor
in the ear or whitish/yellowish substance in the ear.

1. Treat with baytril 10-14 days, 2x per day or until cleared up if no longer than 14 days.
2. If symptoms do not clear up, or get worse, continue on baytril and add one drop
Gentamicin eye drops w/o steroids, 2x per day.

Pox birds often have the lesions inside the ears. As lesions dry and turn dark yellow or black, they can be pulled off so ears can drain better.
1. Keep bird on baytril until lesions are mostly gone and ears are clear.

Greasy- from oil, often french fries or barbequed food that birds shake around and get
themselves splattered. A greasy bird cannot fluff out its feathers and keep itself warm, and flight can be greatly compromised.

1. When stable, usually at least 24 hours after admission if healthy bathe bird using Dawn dish soap. Make a diluted mixture and work into feathers using warm water. Avoid drafts and chilly air while bird is wet. Rinse thoroughly and dry with blow dryer on low or put back into heated container. Sometimes more than one bath is needed to get rid of all the grease (space a few days apart).
Glue Trap- Birds caught in glue traps will be extremely stressed. It is very important to let them stabilize before working on the glue stuck in their
-Victoria has researched this situation and successfully cleaned up a bird using canola oil to neutralize the glue. I believe it then needs a dawn bath to clean
out the canola oil, but best to call Victoria or look on the internet.
Gum- Throw chewing gum in the trash in a wrapper!
-Again, check the internet. It is recommended to use something citrusy. One lady blended shaved lemon rinds with water and got the gum out. Try not
to cut the feathers so the bird will not have to be held until they grow back.

Broken bones- sometimes they are obvious, sometimes not.

1. If bleeding, it is a compound fracture (bone has broken through the skin). Put on baytril. If bird is small, pull the leg straight and often the bone will
realign inside the skin. Use stiff tape (1/2 waterproof first aid tape) to immobilize the leg and allow for healing for 2 weeks. See vet for difficult
2. If skin is not broken , you can attempt to splint if you feel comfortable doing so and know what you are doing. Usually the joint above and below
the fracture should be immobilized,
3. If the break is up high near the body, it cannot be splinted, so try to keep the bird as immobile as possible until healed (2-3 weeks). All birds with fractured legs need to be in a flat container, no perches and kept quiet. They will start putting pressure on the leg as it begins healing- 1-3 weeks. Splints usually come off after 2-3 weeks.
4. Put on Baytril for compound fracture (#1), or very swollen, badly bruised,or swollen joints, or of bird appears sick, or has other wounds.

Bird cannot stand on legs, they are not broken but are weak- if you pinch the toe and the bird can still pull back a little it is usually not broken, just unable to support the bird. This can be caused by a virus, (most common in doves), a bacterial infection, environmental poison, contamination or inadequate nutrition- especially in a young bird. Often adolescents are affected because their immune system is not developed enough to fight off the virus. Doves and pigeons most commonly affected, but can happen to other species too.

Supportive Treatment:
1. Baytril 2x per day for 14 days.
2. Good nutrition- handfeed formula as the bird will be dehydrated and usually skinny.
3. Add vitamins/minerals (one drop of baby vitamin liquid, like Poly Vi Sol) once or twice per day, or other good bird vitamin supplement and can give extra calcium.
4. Support between rolled towels so bird is upright and less stressed.
5. Check butt frequently and keep raised so bird does not develop skin infection from sitting in poop. Change paper towels frequently.
6. Worm the bird! (strongid and droncit).

Baby /young birds that have one or both legs growing out at an odd angle or just slightly turned- are usually caused by slippery surfaces, where the legs and feet can not stay tucked under the body where they belong.

1. Legs must be kept in place- for small babies, use a makeup wedge- seek information on line or call Diana, who has done this procedure successfully.
2. Keep bird in small container or secure nest like shape to limit movement for two

Avoid this problem by using sturdy paper towels and nest lining and cup the nest so the baby/babies are supported. Especially mynah babies with long legs- can use twigs or straw like lining to keep legs in place.

Older or bigger babies with more developed problem may need to see the vet for a stronger support to correct the splay (if possible).

This looks like a splay leg, because the lower part of the leg is turned out at the joint. Often there is redness or swelling around the joint or along the leg. Happens in babies/youngsters. The joint needs to be taped in a figure 8 style to hold the tendon in place, usually for two weeks. Treatment is only successful about 50% of the time-according to Dr. Ako.

1. Bird should probably see an avian vet until we get more experienced at diagnosing and wrapping the slipped tendons.
2. Housing is a cone-shaped nest out of stiff paper towels so the body is supported
and the legs hang down without putting pressure on them.

All birds should be checked for mites and lice upon intake. These parasites can drain health and strength from the birds by biting them for their blood; sick and weak birds are particularly susceptible. Also, mites can quickly migrate to other birds and are also happy to exist in furnishings and take itchy nibbles off people.

Mites commonly come in 3 types:
a. Teeny black specks that move quickly and are frequently found on small babies and in old nesting materials.
b. Oval-shaped brownish creatures often found on pigeons- and love to bite people too!
c. Black fly-look-alikes that are rather flat and hide in pigeons feathers- can transmit pox by biting one bird then flying to the next.
d. Feather lice are long, thin, brownish and move slowly. Commonly found on the undersides of pigeons’ wing and tail feathers, they stay on the feathers and don’t bite, but can cause little hole specks on the feathers.

1. Adult and older adolescent birds can be carefully sprayed with mite and lice spray. Avoid the eyes. Pull out the wings and spread the tail underneath to get the parasites hidden there. Work some of the spray into thick feather areas. The black fly mites can hide really well. Spray pigeons outdoors when possible so mite can fly off instead of going on other birds. Do not spray on bare skin.
2. Babies need to be treated carefully. Do not get spray on bare skin as it is a toxin.
Spray tissue or cotton balls and rub on feathers only, or wrap the body gently in
the tissue for a few minutes, leaving the head out. Or put small babies on white tissue and the mites will migrate to the paper. Change tissue frequently until mites are gone.

Trich has many different appearances in birds:

-White cheesy-like spots in mouth, at corners, on roof of mouth, in throat; bird may have seeds or debris in mouth or spilling out if throat is getting blocked with debris buildup from trich.
-Swelling in throat or crop, redness on outside of throat sometimes (javas have been known to get it in their crops) hard patch of whitish skin on crop is usually debris from trich- do not pick at it or crop will open.
-Bleeding in mouth- seen in pigeons, clean out with Q-tip rolling through mouth to keep airway open, but do not go further back in the throat or bird will stress.
-Slight swelling around one or both eyes-common in zebras and mtn doves.
-Red bump pushing out on tender skin around beak, side of mouth- sometimes trich gets encapsulated inside bump and medication needs to go longer than 2 weeks.
-Small debris accumulation at corners of mouth or excess saliva in mouth- also sign of infection.

1. Treat with metronidazole 2x per day for 14 days.
2. If debris in mouth, do nothing if bird is very sick and until bird’s energy returns.
Once bird is stable and stronger use a Q-tip to clean out mouth once or twice (roll across debris area to dislodge) a day. Do not over stress the bird by trying to get it all out at once. One, two or three times with the Q-tip is sufficient each day.
3. Wash hands carefully before handling other birds.
4. Trich can be transmitted via saliva and feces, so treat all birds living in
same cage/container.
5. If lump in throat, massage gently once or twice a day to dislodge.

*Trich can push the beak out of alignment, so we end up with unreleaseable birds that have scissor beaks or lose part of their beak to the infection. Very deep food dishes help “scissor beak” birds to be able to eat on their own, but check frequently that the bird is eating enough and not losing weight. Beaks need to be trimmed about once a month because they will not naturally keep trimmed.

If poop is smelly, poorly formed, greenish rather than brown:

1. Put on baytril 14 days 2x per day in case of bacterial infection.
2. Give plenty of fluids and good nutrition –hand rearing formula at first.
3. Keep clean.

If poop is quite watery, or diarrhea-like, and /or has unusual smell (hard to describe):

1. Treat for coccidiosis with Albon once a day for 5 days, skip 2 days , then once a day for 5 more days.
2. Give plenty of water.
3. Wash hands carefully- contagious if transmitted via body fluids to other birds- not
to humans. Don’t pass between birds!

If poop accumulated around vent, or feathers at vent are stained or stuck together:

1. Worm the bird with strongid and droncit.
2. Put bird on baytril as this could be sign of infection-especially is poop is quite smelly and not formed properly.
3. Rinse the vent area under warm water once the bird is stabilized and relaxed. Check frequently for cleanliness.

When a pink part of the bird’s intestinal system has come out through the vent, often due to trauma or worms:

1. Rinse with a sterile solution and gently push back into the vent using a Q-tip- be sure all debris is cleaned off first.
2. Worm the bird with droncit and strongid.
3. Start on baytril immediately-for 10 days if no more problems.
4. Keep bedding clean-change frequently.
5. If it prolapses again, repeat the cleaning and pushing back in process. If it continues to happen, it will need a couple of stitches to hold the vent partially closed while still allowing poop to pass through.

If one wing is droopy, it is very likely broken. Pull out the other wing and observe how it snaps into place. Then pull out the droopy one- if it does not snap back close to the body, it is probably fractured.

1. Look closely at and under wing for open wounds, bones sticking through the skin, swelling and bruising.
2. Active bleeding needs to be stopped immediately. Apply light pressure (heavy pressure prevents clotting) until bleeding stops.
3. Simple fractures can usually be splinted by wrapping a piece of masking tape halfway up wing. Wing should sit in place at side of body, with tip over back like the other wing.
4. For complicated fractures, stabilize wing to prevent movement and reduce
pain by taping both wing tips together over the birds back until a vet can see the bird.
5. If a lot of swelling or open wounds, do not restrict with tape. Sometimes swelling has to go down for a couple days before splinting.
6. Put bird on baytril if compound fracture (bone through skin) or a lot of swelling or bruising.
7. Linda can demonstrate wing splints done by different veterinarians.

Although worms can be found in all species, they seem to be especially common in ground feeders like doves and pigeons. Tapeworms and roundworms are the most common types:

1. Tapeworms are long, flat, whitish and faintly segmented. They will quickly absorb the birds’ nutrients, especially in babies and adolescents, and can be cause of death of bird gets too thin. They can be anywhere in the intestinal system, causing crop slowdown.
2. Roundworms are round, pointy at the ends, and slightly pinkish in color. They are most common in mnt doves.

Worms sometimes hang out of the birds’ vent or small segments can be seen in the poop. Other indications include a thin body and /or poopy feathers around the vent area. However, birds can harbor worms with no visible signs.

1. It is recommended to worm every dove and pigeon with droncit for tapeworms and strongid for roundworms. Keep an eye on bulbuls and mynahs too, especially adolescents who are not putting on weight in spite of good appetite.
2. Droncit can be injected in the breast muscle or given by mouth; worms usually come out in a few hours. Strongid is given only by mouth, and can take up to 24 hours to eject the worms.
3. Doses should be given 2 weeks apart, especially if worms are seen after the first dose. Droncit and strongid can be given at the same time.

ZEBRA DOVES: Trich, tapeworms, feet tangled in hair, starving adolescents, weak leg syndrome, greasy feathers.

MOUNTAIN DOVES: Trich, eye problems eye worms, roundworms, thin adolescents, weak leg syndrome, cat attacks, hit by car, broken wings, skin
abrasions and wounds, coccidiosis.

PIGEONS: Trich, pox, tapeworms, feet mangled by ligatures (twine), malnourished babies, babies with skin split on skull, crop slowdown, hit by car, broken legs and wings, weak leg syndrome, coccidiosis, starving at all ages.

BULBULS: Babies- leg problems, poor feathering, burst air sacs. Adults- broken Wings.

MYNAHS: Eye problems, tapeworms, hit by cars. Babies- dehydrated, eye worms, and splay legs.

SPARROWS: Eye worms.

HOUSE FINCH: Pox on face and feet.

JAVA FINCH: Pox on face and feet, trich in babies.


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