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Find information on animal health topics, written for the veterinary professional.

Giving Medication to Pet Birds

By Teresa L. Lightfoot, DVM, DABVP (Avian), Chair, Avian and Exotics Department, Florida Veterinary Specialists

If your bird is ill, your veterinarian may prescribe medication. Occasionally, medications can be provided in food or water. However, unless you can provide the medication inside something that can be swallowed in one gulp (for example, inside a small piece or fruit or vegetable), or your bird will accept hand feeding, controlling dosages and administration times in food or water is not very precise. Your bird may not consume enough of the medication because it does not like the taste or it simply is not hungry.

In many cases, your veterinarian will instruct you to provide medication using an eye dropper or needle-less syringe. It is important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions as closely as possible regarding the amount of medication and how often it must be given. Your bird may not be very cooperative, but it is important to administer the medication with as little fuss as possible to avoid stressing the sick bird further. If you are uncertain how to give the medication, ask your veterinarian or veterinary technician to demonstrate the technique before you leave the office.

Be sure that you understand all of the instructions given by your veterinarian, including the correct dosage, the number of times you need to give the medication each day, and how long the treatment should continue. You should also find out if there are any special storage requirements (such as keeping the medicine in the refrigerator) or preparations needed.

A very few birds will take some medications without restraint. In these rare cases, you can simply provide the medication while the bird is sitting on a perch or grabbing the bars of its cage. However, most birds will require holding and restraint (see Administering Medication to Your Pet Bird).

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