Avian - Veterinary Procedures


Assessing Weight

  • Ensure adequate mediation is used.
    • Medication may not be exactly for birds.
  • Suitable digital scales are best.
  • Trained Birds of Prey should be regularly weighed anyway to maintain flying condition.
  • Refer to a weight-chart if not weighable
    • Dependent on species.
  • Few medicines are marketed for birds so vets should always be consulted prior to medication.
  • Birds have a higher metabolic rate.
  • Need to record weights.
    • May be with the drugs cabinet.
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Why weigh birds?

  • Health Reasons, e.g., monitor weight
  • Detect illness 
    • Weigh change may be the first indication of illness
  • calculate correct diets
  • determine whether the bird is near breeding season.
  • know medication dose
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Medication by Mouth

  • can be tablet or liquid form
  • syringe or dropper can be used for administration (not glass for parrots)
  • inhalation of drug is possible
  • oesophageal or gavage tube are safer
  • get the dosage ready before thinking about administering medication to the bird and beginning to handle the bird
  • can medicate
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Medication by Mouth: Oesophageal or gavage tub ins

  • bird correctly restrained - consider PPE
  • whilst holding beak open extend the neck in a vertical direction to straighten the S-Shape curve of the cervical vertebrate
  • place lubricated tube in mouth
  • advance beyond glottis
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Medication by Mouth: Can restrain using towel

  • drape towel over the back of the bird and wrap it around the bird
  • make sure you have control over the head
  • do not squeeze tight, as if youdo, they might not be able to breathe
  • can take out a single leg or foot so you can check them or trim their nails
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Medication in water and food

  • a convenient un-stressful method of medication
  • rough approximation is that 150ml of water is consumed by kilogram of avian body weight daily
    • may increase/decrease by 50%
    • water intake can be affected by condition, diet, habitat, and species
      • parrots tend to drink a lot of water
  • consider polydipsia and polyphagia (drinking too much and eating too much)
  • consider colour and taste
  • Positives
    • reduces the number of bacterial organisms that may live in the water source
    • a lot less stressful than some methods
  • Negatives
    • who has had the medication?
    • many drugs will lose potency when diluted
    • may be polluting if putting into water bodie sand may lead to antibiotic resistance
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Medication by injection

  • zookeepers can do intramuscular
    • most accurate and reasonably safe
    • pectoralis (chest), Iliotibialis lateralis or biceps femoris muscles of the leg can be used
    • injections should go into the middle of the muscle mass
    • all sites have various advantages and disadvantages
  • subcutaneous
    • under the skin
    • only 1 or 2 areas are suitable
      • as birds' skin isn't very elasticated --> fluid tends to lead out through the point of needle puncture
    • skin under pectoral muscle or precrural fold
    • you can sometimes use the dorsal base of the neck
  • intravenous (Vets only)
    • into a vein
    • most easily given into the brachial vein + metatarsal vein + right jugular vein
    • not always easy = small diameter of the vein + fragility of the vein wall
    • haematoma formation afterwards is a common occurence
  • intracoelomic (into the coelom)
  • intraosseous injection (injecting directly into the marrow of a bone)
  • intratracheal injection (into the trachea)
    • often use to get antibiotics to lungs
    • treat respiratory disease
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  • applied to skin
  • apply lesser amounts with a cotton wool bud, if too much is used plumage can be damaged
  • if using massive quantities of ointment an Elizabethan collar will prevent excessive contamination
    • prevent bird interfering with the medication
  • the faster the drying the better!
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  • Applied to eye.
  • Considered ‘better’ than topical application however effectiveness is short lived.
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Vital Signs of Improvement

  • Temperature
  •  Faeces
  • Behaviour
  • Eating/drinking
  • Respiration rate
  • Pulse stabilising
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