How do I give a bird medicine, you ask? Very carefully. A sick bird should be seen by a veterinarian, preferably one with avian experience. Birds will hide the fact that they are sick; by the time they look sick, the illness is likely far along in the process. In the wild, birds will fake wellness to protect themselves from predators and our pets are not too far removed from the wild.
- Knowing the bird's personality will help decide which form of medicine to give him. Will he let you put things, such as a syringe or medicine dropper, into his beak? Will he drink water that has medicine in it? Will he eat a snack made with medicine or with medicine hidden in it? Usually an ill bird will refuse to eat, which would necessitate force-feeding to ensure that he receives the appropriate amount of medicine.
- Holding a small bird takes careful handling, for it and for you. A parakeet bite can be bruising and painful. Gently as possible, hold the parakeet on his back in the palm of your hand, leaving your index and thumb free to put on either side of the beak and gently press and usually he will open his beak enough to put the end of the syringe in his mouth and plunge the medicine in. If he is stubborn, use the syringe and go in towards the side of the beak and pushing gently will get enough of the tip inside to get the medicine in.
- If a bird is refusing to eat or drink and you are unable to administer meds, you should treat it as a true medical emergency and call your vet. The veterinarian will be able to perform diagnostics while keeping the bird warm, as well as force-feed and keep her hydrated with a crop tube. If the bird needs certain medications and can't be force-fed, the vet can give medications in different ways, including injections, nasal drops or eye drops.
- Laypersons should always be trained in force-feeding, as it is dangerous. Do not attempt force-feeding without prior training by a professional in the veterinary office.
- The typical lack of appetite mentioned above will also cause a lowered body temperature, so it's a good idea to keep the bird warm and draft-free with a blanket around the cage.
- Non-prescription drugs found in pet stores, such as an infection fighter, comes in encapsulated powder form that is opened and mixed into the drinking water daily.
- Some over-the-counter products come in a gel form packaged into a syringe for easy measuring.
- Powdered forms of probiotics or antibiotics can be sprinkled onto moist bird food or onto fruits or vegetables.
- Birds sometimes are infested with feather mites or lice, for which there are safe insecticide sprays that can be used directly on the bird, avoiding his face and removing his water and food dishes first. Sprays can also be applied directly to the cage for a more thorough cleaning.
- A veterinarian experienced with birds can be found using this Website: www.aav.org.
- It is always important to contact a veterinarian before self-treating a bird in a flock. If one member of the flock has mites, then a vet will assume the entire flock is infested and will recommend treatment with prescription medication that you can administer at home so you do not have to transport all of your birds to the office. Perhaps an exceptional avian veterinarian would make a house call to protect your flock from any illnesses they could pick up at the office.
Multiple bird owners face special needs if the entire flock needs treatment as with infestations of mites. If they are kept in an outdoor aviary, you may have to use a net to catch each one, treat it and put it in a smaller cage until each had been given her dose, and then release them back into the aviary.