Let’s face it. Pet birds face many household dangers, and sickness and injury are fairly common.
Common bird injuries include:
A safe and warm bird hospital cage will come in handy when your bird is experiencing a mishap. A parrot hospital cage is on my "Top 5 Must-Have Bird First Aid Supplies List!" I always have one ready for Peachy, Smokey, Timmy and Kiwi.
In this very important blog post, I'll answer all of your questions about why you need a bird hospital cage, how to make one, how to ensure that your bird is comfortable, and when to call your avian vet. So, let's dive in! It may just save your bird's life.
Photo by Diane Burroughs, LCSW
A bird hospital cage doesn't have to be an expensive contraption that you store away just for emergencies. I've always used my clear bird carriers whenever I need to offer my birds supportive care. You just have to be careful about the materials, the size, and accessibility features.
Bird carriers are multi-purpose accessories. I use them for travel, supervised outdoor time, and to offer supportive care when my pets are sick.
I've always preferred to use clear bird carriers when I need to travel with my birds or offer them supportive care. There are various clear bird carriers on the market in assorted sizes. I like clear bird carriers because they allow me to observe my sick bird without disturbing it's rest.
Now, I'm not talking about flimsy, then plastic bird carriers. I'm referring to sturdy, well made clear bird carriers that offer ventilation and stainless steel bars so that you can attach food and water bowls, perches, and, if needed, a Snuggle Up Bird Cage Warmer.
One of my favorite styles is the Wingabago Bird Carrier for larger birds, like Peachy, my Moluccan Cockatoo.
However, this is admittedly a pricey and bulky item. I prefer to use theCaitec Perch and Go Bird Carrier for my African grey's and smaller birds. I really love both of these Styles because they're so easy to keep clean.
I find that this bird carrier is just the right size to allow for movement, of course, yet encourage the “3 R's” for supporting a sick or injured bird.
The other thing that I like about using theCaitec Perch and Go Bird Carrieras a bird hospital cage is that if my bird takes a turn for the worse, I can quickly pack him up in the car to get to the vet with minimal stress.
Both the Caitec and the Wingabo feature thick polycarbonate or other plastic material and stainless steel sides or doors to attach important accessories for your bird's comfort.
Got a long tailed Macaw? Get Caitec’s 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 already have a travel cage, it's an affordable way to offer your bird an ICU experience to promote a fast recovery. Really, the only thing that you need to do to convert your bird travel cage into a hospital cage is to lower the perch, ensure that the water and food bowls are easily accessible, and line the bottom with a soft, fluffy towel in case your bird is too weak to perch.
Once you prepare the hospital cage and place your bird inside it's very important to minimize any stressors that could distract your bird or cause stress. Think of the hospital cage 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. Don't place it in an area where your bird may experience drafts and keep it away from windows. Cover the sides at the hospital cage with a thick towel to create a darkened atmosphere and muffle sounds that might startle your bird.
A lot of people ask, “what should I put in the bottom of my bird hospital cage?” As I mentioned above, I like to cover the bottom of the carrier with a fluffy towel. It's super easy to throw a soiled towel in the washer. But, I'm a big fan of using puppy pads and just tossing the mess in the trash. Plus, with puppy pads, you can easily examine your bird's droppings. A change in your bird's droppings, like color, frequency, volume, wetness or character of droppings may indicate a problem that requires immediate veterinary attention.
Just as important, a clear bird hospital cage is easier to keep clean. You’ll also want to ensure that your bird is as comfortable as possible remember the 3 R's? Rest. Relaxation. And, Recovery.
If your bird is strong enough, place an appropriate sized perch close to the bottom at the carrier. That way, if your bird falls off of it, it is less likely to get injured. Also, make sure that the food and water bowls are lowered and very easy to get to. A weak bird has a tendency to refuse to eat.
A sick bird that has to "work" to eat and drink 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.
A bird scale will be invaluable for monitoring your bird's weight. A 10% drop in weight can occur in just a day or two if your bird refuses to eat or drink. Monitoring your bird's weight throughout its recovery will help you know if your bird is not eating. The sooner you notice a drop in weight, the sooner you'll be able to provide supportive care before it's too late.
There is no need to go out and spend the big bucks on a gram scale with that perch. It is so easy to train your bird to just stand on the platform. This is the scale that I use every week to monitor my bird's health.
If you notice that your bird is refusing to drink water you might want to stabilize it with an electrolyte mix. Over the counter electrolyte drinks are not recommended for birds because of their high sugar content. Instead, make your own mix. It's really easy. Here's a recipe:BIRD ELECTROLYTE SUPPORT
2 C. fresh water
1 teaspoon of honey or Karo syrup
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking soda (Bob's Red Mill Baking Soda)
1/2 teaspoon table salt.
Mix well. Use a dropper, a curved teaspoon, or a creamer pitcher to get your bird to drink.
Getting the electrolytes back in balance will help support your bird toward faster recovery.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.
Another critical thing that will support your bird's speedy recovery will be to keep it warm. Just like you and I, when we're sick we have a tendency to get chilled. Your bird is no exception.
There are a couple of ways to keep a sick bird warm. You could use a light bulb and point it where your bird is perching or use a heating pad placed under the carrier. The trouble with these two techniques is that it's difficult to control how much heat your bird is getting. Too much heat could result in dehydration.
A better alternative is to buy a Snuggle Up Bird Cage Warmer. These devices attach to the stainless steel door bars so it's easy to make sure that the bird doesn't take a nip at the electrical cord. They have thermostatically controlled heat. In other words just the right amount to keep your bird comfortable. It's important device comes in two sizes.
I got fully sold on the importance of having a Snuggle Up Bird Cage Warmer on hand when Peachy, my Moluccan Cockatoo, got Mega-bacteria back in 2013. I feel like this device actually saved his life. I'd urge you to make this a part of your bird first aid kit.
When caring for a sick bird it is really important to know which symptoms need immediate emergency treatment and which respond well to home-based supportive care.
It never hurts to call your avian vet office and talk with a vet tech. You'll probably get some great advice and also the clinic will be apprised of your situation and be more apt to get you in for immediate treatment if necessary. Make sure that you follow your avian vet's advice to the best of your ability.
Pet birds are notoriously messy and messes attract harmful bacteria and fungal growth. That's why it's so important to keep your bird hospital cage clean. A sick or injured bird needs to use all of its energy for recovery, not fighting another infection!
If you use the puppy pads like I described above, it will be very easy to remove bird droppings several times throughout the day. Also, plan to switch out towels on the bottom of the cage at least once a day. More if it gets soiled.
Wipe down the surfaces inside and outside of the cage that have food splatters, poop, or other forms of soiling at least once a day. Clean the food and water bowls. Just use soapy water to get everything spic and span. Make sure to rinse the soap off with fresh water.
Check the cage cover or towel for soiling and get a fresh one if necessary.
Lastly, give the surrounding area a quick wipe down, too.
Finally, remember that your bird Is probably experiencing some emotional stress. Gentle words of encouragement will go a long waytowardcalming your bird down.
Birds grow very attached to their owners and will appreciate the calming attention. Talk in a low, comforting voice to your feathered friend, and assure your pet that he/she will be alright.
In conclusion, I strongly advise that you have a clean bird hospital cage available at all times. Create a bird first aid kid so that when the inevitable bird emergencies happen - - you are prepared.
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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