Why Are We Talking About Treating Bird Bite Wounds?

Parrot trying to bite. Open beak of amazon parrot close up
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Were not going to start with bird bites because we’ll be talking about several first-aid challenges you may face having a bird or two in your home for several decades.

Everyone likes to think of themselves as being prepared for disaster and certainly life’s cuts and scrapes.  

I’ve personally sutured a dog in a garage (after 5 minutes of training by my vet) 🙂

I’ve yanked shards of glass out of more than one dogs paw and got them bandaged over the years.

 

Sutures are easy to come by if your vet is a fellow musher but for the most part many dog, and I presume cat medical emergencies, can be treated with a human first aid kit.

Removing a little fur on a dog while rapidly getting a wound bandaged, is something a dog will get over pretty quickly.

Mammals are very different than birds.

If your bird suffers a broken wing watch this video to learn the figure of eight wrap for supporting the wing until you can get to professional help.

 

In home treatment of other avian orthopedic injuries like broken legs, which are considered , typically not life-threatening, start by stabilizing the patient.

 

You can use a coffee stir stick or even a feather quill from the bird to be used as a split held down by masking tape, non adhesive first-aid tape or even a small cable tie.

 

 

The purpose of splinting is to stabilize the leg until they are able to be x-rayed by a veterinarian.

Remember once a birds leg is immobilized, it cannot close its foot around a perch so the bird is going to be less stable.

Intentionally repetitious -> A bird’s reduced stability adds to a bird’s level of stress. 

It’s best to move everything into a hospital cage so that it does not gain height which will prevent possible falls and further injuries.

prevue 620 1 Why Are We Talking About Treating Bird Bite Wounds?

Once again nag-nag-nag this is not the time to be freaking your bird out with a towel that you need to restrain it with.

 

Restraining towels can be a birds friend, watch this video from Lafeber vet on how to make it happen.

 

 

I keep talking about how birds are three-dimensional pets having the ability to fly.

 

That’s one big difference between our birds and your neighbors cats and dogs.

 

It has to do with the different integumentary (I just like saying that word) system

Start Wikipedia

The integumentary system comprises the skin and its appendages acting to protect the body from various kinds of damage, such as loss of water or abrasion from outside.

The integumentary system includes hair, scales, feathers, hooves, and nails.

End Wikipedia

 

Feathers provide flight as well as insulating a birds body.

 

Fur is only used by mammals for insulation.

 

A mammals body is much different than a birds body in terms of the distribution of fat as mother nature calculated the amount of fat to enable bird flight.

 

Dogs cool themselves using their tongues to exchange heat via panting although they do have tiny sweat glands on their paw pads.

 

Birds have no sweat glands.

Heat loss is through the respiratory system and exposed skin.

 

Mammals incubate offspring internally.

 

Birds on the other hand have to incubate eggs outside of their body which requires more heat.

 

If your veterinarian sees blood he or she is going to want to determine if the blood is coming from outside or inside the body.

 

 

Birds themselves can make small injuries more severe.

 

Think about a bird whose leg band got caught in an unexpected piece of toy hardware and fractured its leg.

 

If stuck for a long period, stress becomes a much larger enemy than the injury itself.

 

Many captive bird keepers are insistent that clipping a birds wings will keep it from flying into a wall.

 

“Trimming my birds toenails will make things not as scratchy on me”.

 

 

The problem is that birds use their wings not only for flight but for balance.

 

Some bird cage perches don’t have a lot of texture.

 

Put the two together and you have a bird that can easily slip off a perch in the middle of the night.

 

Cockatiels are prone to night frights.

Bird’s can break wings flapping uncontrollably while falling to the bottom of the cage after slipping off a perch.

When birds do not feel stable in their home environment because are not able to perch easily, the stress of instability can trigger negative behavioral problems.

 

Let’s add that to the flighted/wing clip “discussion”.

 

Editor’s note: I would normally say “argument” (instead of discussion) but my blood pressure is high these day so I’m trying to be a kinder and gentler person.

 

You’d never think that selling bird toys could be so stressful.

 

Restraint of psittacines (parrots) involves immobilization of the head.

 

I quote from a VETERINARIAN “generally with a thumb on one side of the mandible and the index or middle finger on the other”.

 

I mention this only because of some comments I received on YouTube by genius bird keepers, while illustrating proper bird restraint.

 

 

“I wish I could put my thumb and forefinger around his neck.”

 

“what a dickhead..Ida let the bird fly away”

 

avistraint/toweling

More reasons birds are different than mammals.

For the most part birds are smaller than mammals so they use more energy – you know that flight thing.

 

Birds do have a slightly higher metabolism than mammals but there’s not a big difference.

 

There is a difference in body temperatures between birds and mammals.

 

Birds have thinner skin than mammals.

A bird’s skin much more delicate and nowhere near as elastic as a mammal’s skin.

 

A bird’s skin is firmly stretched over bones especially in the wing and feet area.

 

Feathered follicles are contained within the bird’s skin itself and lots of smooth muscles which control feather position – a mesmerizing phenomenon in and of itself

 

Regardless of room temperature it’s never warm enough for a sick bird.

 

By raising the temperature close to the bird’s internal temperature their body can push more energy onto healing and less on trying to keep itself at a normal body temperature.

 

It’s best to provide a heat source on one side of the bird cage.

 

Assuming your bird is ambulatory, your bird can decide its own ambient temperature comfort level by moving closer or away from the heat source.

 

If you see your bird holding her wings away from her body and possibly panting she or he is too warm.

 

If your bird appears to be fluffing up his or her feathers and “huddling” your bird is too cold.

We find polar bears in the Arctic, lions and tigers and Africa, foxes and brown bears in North America.

They manage to stay warm with their fur and a layer of fat.

 

My Point is birds, because they can maintain a high body temperature that’s constant they are able to be indigenous in many habitats be they polar, temperate or tropical.

 

Bird’s pay dearly for heat production by energy intake so they are able to balance what they put out while having the ability to get rid of excess heat when they need to.

 

In other words if a bird is an area with falling temperatures, they will increase their own rate of metabolism to keep their internal temperature from going down.

 

As mentioned earlier, a few weeks ago we revisited our ultimate bird first aid kit.

We certainly are not advocating that you go to this extreme but we wanted to point out many of the possible injuries that one needs to be prepared for over the decades that you may have a bird in your home.

The single biggest cause of bird death is malnutrition we know that.

But physical injuries are more common than you may think.

Editor’s note: at the bottom of this post you’ll find some helpful links we advocate that you bookmark should emergencies arise.

Make sure you also have contact information for after-hours veterinary care.

You can get a recommendation for where to go from your own veterinarian.

 

After spending several hours with my ouija board I came up with the predictability of a number of maladies a bird may encounter in its lifetime

  • Animal bites
  • Beak injuries
  • Bee stings
  • Bleeding
  • Bleeding from nares (nose)
  • Breathing problems
  • Broken blood feathers
  • Burns
  • Concussion
  • Egg binding
  • Eye injuries
  • Falling into oil
  • Foreign object eaten
  • Foreign object inhaled
  • Fractures
  • Frostbite
  • Joint swelling
  • Lead and zinc poisoning
  • Overheating
  • Regurgitation
  • Seizures
  • Shock
  • Tissue protruding from vent
  • Trapped on adhesive

 

Now you know  why we built  the Ultimate Bird First Aid Kit

Finally bird bite wounds.

Bite wounds can come from predators and also from prey species.

Predatory species can be found in many homes, we are talking about ferrets, dogs and cats.

What prey species could possibly bite a pet bird?

Rats and mice for one and even other birds in the household.

Editor’s note: We have hundreds if not thousands of feral monk parakeets aka Quaker parrots in the chicago area.

Chicago is home to many peregrine falcons who enjoy the height of buildings throughout the city.

So why don’t the peregrine falcons hang out around 57th st where the Museum of Science and Industry is as well as all the quaker parrots?

You would think that south side area by lake Michigan was the equivalent of Whole Foods for the city’s falcons.

Birds are smart.

Smarter than we will ever give them credit for but in this case the peregrine’s tend to lay off the quakers because they know that a parrot can break their leg with their beak if not killed immediately.

That’s reverse engineering bird bites – for protection.

 

I keep talking about how birds are three-dimensional pets having the ability to fly.

 

That’s one big difference between our birds and your neighbors cats and dogs

 

Speaking of interrogatory systems

 

Feathers provide flight as well as insulating a birds body.

 

Fur is only used by mammals for inflation.

 

A mammals body is much different than a birds body in terms of the distribution of fat as mother nature calculated to enable bird flight

 

Dogs cool using their tongues to exchange sheet via panting although they do have tiny sweat glands on their paw pads.

 

Birds have no sweat glands. Heat loss is through the respiratory system and exposed skin.

 

Mammals incubate offsprings internally.

 

Birds on the other hand have to incubate eggs outside of their body which requires more heat

 

 

If your veterinarian sees blood he or she is going to want to determine if the blood is coming from outside or inside the body.

 

Birds themselves can make small injuries more severe.

 

Think about a bird whose legband got caught in an un-inspected piece of toy hardware and fractured its leg.

 

shelf video

 

If stuck for a long period stress becomes a much larger enemy than the injury itself.

 

Many captive bird keepers are insistent that “clipping my birds wings will keep it from flying into a wall”.

 

Trimming my birds toenails will make things not as scratchy on me.

 

The problem is that birds use their wings not only for flight but for balance.

 

Some birdcage perches don’t have a lot of adhesion.

 

Put the two together and you have a bird they can easily slip off a perch in the middle of the night.

 

In spite of anecdotal information clipping a birds wings will not reduce bad hormonal behavior.

 

It’s like getting a haircut.

 

Your bird will behave no differently with shorter wings than you behave differently with shorter hair.

 

When birds do not feel stable in their home environment because are not able to perch easily, the stress of instability can trigger negative behavioral problems.

 

Editor’s note: I would normally say argument but my blood pressure is high these day so I’m trying to be a kinder and gentler person.

 

You’d never think that selling bird toys could be stressful

here’s some other reasons bird’s are different than mammals

Birds have thinner skin than mammals.

Bird’s skin is much more delicate and nowhere near as elastic.

 

A bird skin is firmly stretched over bones especially in the wings and feet area.

 

Feathered follicles are contained with in the skin itself and lots of smooth muscles which control feather position – a mesmerizing phenomenon in and of itself

 

Because for the most part birds are smaller than mammals they use more energy – you know that flight thing.

 

They do have a slightly higher metabolism than mammals but there’s not a big difference.

 

There is a difference in body temperatures

 

Restraint of psittacines involves immobilization of the head,

 

And i quote from a VETERINARIAN “generally with a thumb on one side of the mandible and the index or middle finger on the other”.

 

I mention this only because of some comments I received on you to while it illustrating proper bird restraint techniques

 

 

“I wish i could put my thumb and forefinger around his neck.”

“what a dickhead..Ida let the bird fly away”

 

avistraint/toweling

There is a difference in body temperatures

 

Birds have thinner skin than mammals.

Is much more delicate in nowhere near as elastic.

 

A bird skin is firmly stretched over bones especially in the wings and feet area.

 

Feathered follicles are contained with in the skin itself in lots of smooth muscles which control feather position – a mesmerizing phenomenon in and of itself

 

Regardless of room temperature it’s not warm enough or sick bird.

 

By raising the temperature close to the bird their body can push more energy on healing and less on trying to keep itself at a normal body temperature

 

It’s best to provide a heat source on one side of the cage assuming your bird is ambulatory so that your bird can decide its own ambient temperature comfort level.

 

If you see your bird holding her wings away from her body and possibly panting she or hee too warm.

 

If your bird appears to be fluffing up his or her feathers and “huddling” your bird is too cold

 

We find polar bears in the Arctic, lions and tigers and Africa, foxes and brown bears in North America.

 

Point is birds because they can maintain a high body temperature that’s constant they are able to be indigenous in many habitats be they polar temperate or tropical.

 

They pay dearly for this he production by energy intake so they are able to balance what they put out while having the ability to get rid of excess heat when they need to.

 

The other side of the coin is when it becomes too high for birds they need to lose heat like we do when we sweat.

 

Because birds don’t have any sweat glands they have to get rid of it by rapid breathing or panting if you will.

 

While most of his fantasize about warm weather while experiencing these never ending North American cold temperatures let’s think about what to do should your bird become overheated.

 

Not that there’s ever been a power outage anywhere or history of the United States but it is possible to come home to a dehydrated bird because you’ve been gone for the day and the air conditioner crapped out.

What do you do?

Your choice of emergency liquids are

  • Sugar water
  • Non carbonated lemonade
  • Milk and egg yolk
  • Pedialyte (used for pediatric hydration).

You may even have to stroke your birds throat to help him or her swallow.

 

Depending upon the size of the bird you may need from 6 to 7 drops for birds like canaries to 10 or 15 drops and up to 5 teaspoons for large parrots

Helpful links for avian first aid 

Poisons and Parrots

Saving the life of a pigeon or dove – vital basic steps

Animal Poison Control

Avian CPR

Zootonic diseases – Can my bird make me sick

Here’s a more in depth description of Avian Orthopedic injuries from Margaret A. Wissman, D.V.M., D.A.B.V.P.


Also published on Medium.

Author:

He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they would visit their monthly birdie brunch in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground. Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care. He's met with the majority of  CEO's and business owners for most brands in the pet bird space and does so on a regular basis. He also constantly interacts with avian veterinarians and influencers globally.

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