Birds are popular pets throughout Australia, but unfortunately they are often the ‘overlooked’ family pet when it comes to their health. It can be hard to tell if your bed is happy and healthy or under the weather. From finches to cockatoos, pet caged birds provide companionship, entertainment, and interest for their owners. Budgerigars are the most commonly kept cage-bird, while canaries, lovebirds, finches, galas, parrots, and cockatoos are favoured by others.
I look after my bird. Why would they be sick?
Regardless of how well cared for a bird is, a multitude of illnesses can affect them. Many of these are related to stress, inadequate nutrition, caging or age. Unfortunately, sick birds all tend to look the same regardless of their complaint. The most common signs of illness in birds include:
- fluffing or ruffling of the feathers
- drooping eyelids
- head tucked under a wing
- bobbing of the tail
Any of these for a prolonged time indicates that a bird is quite ill, Most birds try to hide the fact that they are sick for as long as possible, so symptoms may mean they’ve been unwell for quite some time. This is an instinctive behaviour aimed at minimising the chances of being attacked by predators.
What can be done for a sick bird?
Your Greencross Veterinarian is trained to help you treat your bird’s illness. While a phone call to the clinic may help, a visit may be necessary for proper diagnosis. Some tips for taking your bird to the vet include:
- take your bird in its own cage without removing any toys
- leave food in the cage but remove water
- do not clean the cage, as valuable diagnostic evidence may be destroyed
- take with you any remedies or medicines you have been giving at home
- be prepared to answer questions concerning symptoms you’ve noticed, feeding, length of illness, and environment
Modern veterinary science is placing increasing importance on pet birds as ‘companion animals’, the same as dogs and cats. Treatment for most illnesses is available. Surgery on birds is performed on a regular basis for things such things as fracture repair, tumour excisions, and wound suturing.
As some pet birds are destined to live many years, (decades in the case of galas and cockatoos), their health can be better maintained by attention to their basic care, nutrition, and caging.
If you’re concerned about the welfare of your pet bird, speak to your local Greencross Vets for care advice.