D-R-O-P Approach for Bird Burns

D-R-O-P Approach for Bird Burns

A common parrot accident is bird burns.  Painful liquid, chemical & electric burns require immediate attention. Discover important advice to save your bird. 

Burns are very serious and extremely painful.  A burned bird needs immediate veterinary care to minimize shock, manage pain and prevent secondary infections.

If your bird has suffered a burn - take a moment to CALM YOURSELF DOWN.

Next, respond to avian burns using the D-R-O-P Approach. 

(D)ETERMINE THE CAUSE of the burn.  There are 4 common causes of  burns. 

  • Chemical Burns: Determine if the burn is acid or alkali in origin and counteract the burn process quickly.
    1. Acids: Muriatic acid, swimming pool additives and battery fluid are acid based products.  If your bird comes into contact with them, the result can be deadly.
    2. Alkali: Cleaning supplies such as lye, ammonia and bleach cause painful alkaline burns.
  • Electrical Burns: Chewing electrical cords or sticking a beak into an electrical socket causes severe burns and can potentially stop the heart.  SEEK IMMEDIATE VETERINARY CARE.
  • High Heat: Other common bird burn causes include flying into hot liquid, steam or even into an open flame.  Stop the burn process with cold, clean water.  Apply with fresh gauze.  Gently dab dry with clean, dry gauze so as not to tear your birds delicate skin.
  • Liquid Burns:  Birds have been known to fly into boiling liquids on the stove top and receive steam burns.  Baby birds can suffer crop burns by being fed hand-feeding formula that is too hot.  Dangerously hot formula sits in the crop and can slowly burn a hole right to the birds outside.  Immerse the burn area in cool water to relieve the pain.

(R)ESPOND With Measures To Stop The Burning Process

  • Acid Burns: Stop the burning process and stabilize your bird, quickly make a baking soda paste.  Mix equal parts of baking soda and water.  Apply to the burn site.
  • Alkali Burns: Stop the burn process by applying a light coating of general household vinegar with clean gauze.
  • Electrical Burns: Determine if your bird is breathing and it’s heart is beating.
    • Turn off the power source immediately.  Use a dry wooden spoon or dowel to flick the cord out of the wall socket.
    • See CPR Article
    • Treat your bird for shock (see article here)
    • Seek Immediate Emergency Veterinary Care.
  • Grease Burns: Falling into grease and especially grease burns can be a life-threatening emergency.
    • For hot grease burns, first, apply a light coat of flour or corn starch to absorb the hot grease and rinse with cold water. Dry the area by gently dabbing with a clean piece of gauze.  Rubbing the wound may tear your birds delicate skin.
    • Gently wipe grease away from nostrils, mouth and eyes.
    • Apply Soother Ointment. Never use butter or oil based antibiotic ointments on the burn wounds because grease retains the heat.
    • Grease coated feathers can result in hypothermia because feathers lose their insulating capabilities causing the bird to not be able to regulate it's temperature. A warm hospital cage is in order until the bird is stable enough for a thorough bath.
  • High Heat and Liquid Burns: Immerse the area in cold water to stop the burning process. Dry the area by gently dabbing with a clean piece of gauze.  Rubbing the wound may tear your birds delicate skin. Apply Soother Ointment.

(O)FFER Hospital Cage:  

Your goal is to minimize stress and try to circumvent your bird going into shock.  Commit a "crisis plan" to memory so that if and when a crisis does happen, you know what to do.


1.       Avian Vet Daytime #:

2.       Avian or Emergency Vet After Hours #:

Important "Take Aways"

  • Accidents happen, but do your best to prevent painful, deadly burns by keeping your bird away from cleaning products, out of the kitchen during cooking time, away from candles or flames and away from electrical cords.  Cover outlets with furniture, if possible.
  • Check your bird first aid kit to insure it has plenty of gauze.  Make sure you have vinegar and baking soda available.  Get some Soother Ointment.
  • Double check that your hospital cage is clean and stocked.
  • A bird that has been towel trained will not suffer further trauma when you examine it.

Have your bird ever experienced a burn?  Leave comments to help fellow readers out.


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Diane Burroughs, LCSW

Located in Denver, I'm a Mile High author and parrot feather plucking expert. I've always been a devoted animal lover with a special passion for parrots, Diane is also a behavior specialist. Make sure to join my Facebook group, UnRuffledRx Parrot Feather Plucking Help now!

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  • Diane Burroughs, LCSW
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