What does it mean when your bird is bleeding?
A very common and scary avian emergency is a bleeding bird. Anytime that a bird is bleeding, it is cause for concern and you'll need to make fairly fast decisions to stop the bleeding and stabilize your pet.
Bird injuries are quite common. Birds break blood feathers, get their feathers caught in cage bars, fly into objects, and can be attacked by other household pets. These are just a few of the injuries that birds experience.
That's why it is so important to have a bird first aid kit available at all times. Make sure that your bird first aid kit contains styptic powder. My favorite brand of styptic powder has an analgesic for pain relief.
Can a bird bleed to death?
Only about 10% of your bird's body weight is blood. So, for instance, a 130 gm. Cockatiel will have approximately 13 cc of blood. It's easier to envision how much blood your bird has if you look at a syringe.
So, if you see a couple of cc of fresh blood on your bird or splatters around the cage, floor, cage paper or walls, take action quickly because a bird can bleed to death fairly quickly.
Can birds stop bleeding on their own?
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, “When a bird has a “bleeding” emergency, it is important to distinguish between obvious active bleeding (such as from the wing, beak, or foot) and blood on the cage or on the bird with no active bleeding.
Continued bleeding requires immediate veterinary intervention, whereas bleeding that has stopped is best left undisturbed. However, even if bleeding has ceased, it is wise to take your bird in for an examination.”
Even so, make sure to have a safe blood clotting powder available. Styptic powder is the method of choice for stopping bird bleeding, however in a pinch you can use ordinary baking flour or cornstarch.
How will you help an injured bird who is bleeding?
FIRST: STAY CALM!
Remember, that your bird easily feeds off of your emotional state. If it is already experiencing a medical problem and it see's you in a panic, your bird's blood pressure will increase and it will go into "fight or flight" mode, thereby increasing the blood loss. Take a few deep breaths and remember this article.
SECOND: STOP & THINK
A healthy bird has great clotting abilities and can experience losses of up to about 50% of its blood with supportive veterinary care. That's not to say that you want to just apply a "band-aid" approach with a bleeding bird, but use this information to keep calm. A bit of blood on this pictured on this bird can be treated easily, while you'd want to get veterinary care for more significant blood loss.
After calming down, it is important to find the source of the bleeding. Is the bleeding from an internal injury or an external one? Internal bleeding comes from a body orifice like the mouth, ears, nares or vent, while external bleeding comes from the skin.
THIRD: DETERMINE THE CAUSE & LOCATION OF THE BLEEDING:
- Determine the exact location of the bleeding.
- Determine the extent of the injury.
- Can the bleeding be stopped with no first aid measures or application of Super Clot and 1-2 minutes of pressure?
Get your bird to the vet immediately if the bleeding is from an orifice such as the nares, mouth, ears, eyes or in the droppings.
- ANIMAL BITES: INCLUDING BIRD: Always seek Avian Vet Care ASAP due to deadly infection issue.
If the bleeding is external, minor, and not from an animal bite, place your bird in a clean hospital cage to minimize movement and make observation easier.
Observe your bird for 5 minutes.
If bleeding doesn't stop within 5 minutes, administer Bird First Aid: Bird first aid in this case means applying Bird Safe Styptic Powder at the site of the bleeding and applying gentle pressure for 1-2 minutes.
- Once the bleeding has stopped continue to observe your bird in a hospital cage for at least 1-2 hours to be sure the bleeding doesn't reoccur.
- Keep your bird warm and allow it quiet rest.
WHEN TO GET IMMEDIATE VET TREATMENT
If the bleeding reoccurs, take your bird in to your avian veterinarian immediately.
Is your bird listless or panting? Yes? Call the vet and get your bird in ASAP. Never the less, your calm reaction and a safe, confined space may reduce stress immediately.
- The injury is due to an animal bite. Animal bites can result in deadly infections within 24 hours and may involve serious internal injuries that are not apparent to you.
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Diane Burroughs, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist trained in ABA therapy techniques. She specializes in avian anxiety disorders and is certified in Nutrition For Mental Health. Diane has written a number of bird behavior books and she offers behavior consultations. She's developed a range of UnRuffledRx Science-backed Parrot Wellness Supplies.
Diane's products have been featured in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery and at Exoticscon, a conference for exotic pet veterinarians. Her bird collars & supplements are stocked in avian vet clinics and bird stores throughout the US. With over 30 years in the field of behavior, Diane has created thousands of successful individualized behavior plans that help pets thrive.
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