A sick or injured bird needs reassurance and love, but, also quiet so it can rest, warmth so it can heal, restricted movement to conserve energy and very easy access to food and water since sick parrots often refuse to eat. In this article, we tell you exactly how to help your sick or injured pet recuperate in a parrot hospital cage.
Pet birds face many household dangers, and sickness and injury are fairly common. Whether a bird flies into a window pane and sustains a concussion, gets attacked by a cat or dog, breaks a wing or fractures a leg during a fall, becomes egg bound, has a serious bacterial infection or experiences another debilitating condition, a secure hospital cage is necessary for its recovery. A parrot hospital cage is on our "Top 5 Must-Have Bird First Aid Supplies List!" We always have one ready for Peachy, Smokey, Timmy and Sophie.
The parrot hospital cage should be short in height to discourage climbing and encourage rest. And, the perches should only be elevated between 1-5 inches from the bottom, depending on your bird's post injury strength and size. A typical bird carrier constructed of polycarbonate, like the Wingabago Bird Carrier, can be easily converted into a hospital cage with just a few simple adjustments. We love the Wingabago as a hospital cage or most birds because it is enclosed, it encourages your bird to perch, has easy access to food and water dishes and you can get a custom cover to muffle noise and other disturbances. Plus, it offers an optional stainless steel door to attach a parrot warming device that keeps your bird warm. After all, you want your bird using its energy to heal, not to stay warm.
Got a long tailed Macaw? Get a specialized Macaw Carrier to help your large, long tailed bird recover. It has both front and rear doors so that your bird does not have to turn around to get in or out of the carrier. With a low perch height, your Macaw will be encouraged to rest in a Macaw friendly parrot hospital cage.
Since many pet birds have a travel cage already, keeping your travel cage set up as a hospital unit is probably the quickest way to provide appropriate housing during the recovery period. Converting a travel cage to a parrot hospital cage also makes for much less stress should you need to transport your bird to your avian veterinarian for specialized treatment.
A parrot hospital cage must protect your bird from stressful situations that distract it from healing. Think of it as a safe nest cavity where your bird will feel safe enough to rest and recover. Place the parrot hospital cage in a warm, quiet room away from household traffic to encourage much needed rest. Make sure that both the cage and the location you keep your parrot recovery cage in protects your bird from disturbances like other pets, noises and activity that will startle it or cause it to thrash about, resulting in further injury.
Next, make sure that the bird perch is an appropriate height and is a comfortable diameter. I like to use a rope perch that is easy to grasp. After all, sick birds are weak so the rope allows them to dig their nails in to prevent it from falling off the perch. You want your bird to use it's energy to get well, not to fight simply staying perched. Of course, if a fractured leg is the problem or the bird is unable to perch, soft bedding like towels, pine or Eco-Nest must substitute for the low perch. If you use a towel, top it with a sheet of waxed paper that can be removed and changed a few times per day to keep the cage clean. Create a cage cover with a thick towel to minimize noise and trap in heat.
Supplemental heat should be available for an injured or sick bird. Just like when you have the flu, a heating pad or an electric blanket (and, in my case layers of sweat shirts) keeps the chill at bay. Warmth allows your bird to use it's energy to recover rather than heating it's body. The ideal temperature for the bird's hospitalization period is about 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Supplemental heat can come from under-cage, interior heating pads or a heat lamp elevated above the cage. A cost effective bird warmth product, called the Snuggle Up Bird Warmer offers thermostatically controlled warmth that allows your bird to recover. We recommend that every bird lover have a bird warmer in their emergency care kit for any parrot emergency. If you use a heating pad to warm your bird, place half of the hospital cage on a heating pad so that only half of the cage is warmed. That way, your bird can move away from the heat source as needed. Another alternative is to use an Infrared Heater like those available from Avitech. Please remember, that anytime a bird is warmed up and healing at the same time, it must have access to fresh, clean water at all times. Heat, of course, causes dehydration.
Choose a hospital cage that is easy to keep clean. Pet birds are notoriously messy and messes attract harmful bacteria and fungal growth so clean your hospital cage every day. A sick or injured bird needs to use all of it's energy for recovery, not fighting infection! Change the liner or bedding in your hospital cage once or twice a day: Even more for larger birds. Use a bird safe disinfectant to wipe off food and poop splatters at least daily and change the water dish 2 or more times a day. If your bird is really sick, consider having two hospital cages so that you can promptly put your bird in the second one as you are cleaning the first one. Remember, any stress that your bird experiences could cause a set back.
Electrovites help stabilize your sick or injured parrot. Often, a sick or injured bird will refuse to eat or drink. It is important to make eating and drinking as easy as possible for your bird. A sick bird that has to "work" to eat may simply starve itself to death. Sick birds are not very resilient. Hydration is extremely important at these times because a sick bird can easily become dehydrated from diarrhea or regurgitation, and an injured bird may be reluctant to drink. The cage warmer may cause your bird to dehydrate faster, too. Consult with your veterinarian about proper hydration. Two products that may be very useful to keep in your bird first aid kit include Cool Bird and Electrovites from Avitech. Carefully observe if your pet is eating. If not, you'll need to supplement nutrition with a hand feeding formula such as Formula One.
A bird scale will be invaluable for monitoring your birds weight. A 10% drop in weight can occur in just a day or two if your bird refuses to eat or drink, putting your bird at even more risk. Consult with your avian vet to know when you should take your bird in for gavage feeding to help maintain weight.
Finally, remember that your bird will be in some distress, and a gentle word can help reassure it that there is nothing to fear. Birds grow very attached to their owners and will appreciate the calming attention. Talk in a low, comforting voice to your avian friend, and assure your pet that he/she will be alright. This is especially helpful if you have had to use restraint to treat the bird and will help your bird understand that you are trying to help. After all, your parrot understands a lot of what you say to it.
And, most importantly, follow your veterinarian's advice to the letter!
• Quiet environment
• Clean hospital cage that encourages rest
• Paper lining or bedding that's easy to change and allows you to observe droppings
• Low perch, if necessary
• Supplemental heat from heating pads, infrared heaters or a heated lamp
• Fresh, clean water
• Nutritional and Electrolyte Supplements
• Thermometer to monitor cage temperature
• Cage cover or towel to quiet outside activity and wipe up messes
• Nontoxic antibacterial cleaning solution like Pet Focus for cleaning and disinfecting
In conclusion, we strongly advise that you have a clean parrot hospital cage available at all times. Create a bird first aid kid so that when the inevitable parrot emergencies happen - - you are prepared.
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