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Merck Manual

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First Aid Kit for Pet Birds

First Aid Kit for Pet Birds

Bandage material

Bleeding emergencies often warrant the use of pressure wraps to aid in the application of direct pressure to open cuts, abrasions, and fractures. Do not apply a wrap if you are uncertain of the proper method. Most bleeding skin wounds will clot on their own or be “protected” by the bird from further injury. Good materials that won’t adhere to the plumage are vet wrap (which clings to itself like cling wrap), roll gauze, cellophane tape, and some masking tapes.

Cotton balls and swabs

Cotton swabs can help control bleeding or wet feathers to move them away from a wound. They are best for cleaning stains off of feathers and skin (such as lipstick or oils) and for swabbing out lower beaks (such as food debris in baby birds).

Disinfectant

Only use topical disinfectants on open wounds and skin. Diluted chlorhexidine and betadine are safe and effective if used away from the mouth, ear canals, and eyes. Do not use salves, ointments, petroleum jelly, or other thick or oily substances on birds without veterinary recommendation. These products may matt the plumage and prevent the bird from insulating itself.

Gauze pads

Gauze pads can also help control bleeding or clean wounds. Use only sterile pads on open wounds. Nonstick pads should be used to cover wounds. Small size pads are easier to use but may be difficult to find.

Metal nail file

Can be used to smooth a chipped beak tip or broken nails.

Penlight

Used to illuminate the injured area, check eyes, nares (openings of the nose), mouth and throat, feathers.

Phone numbers

Phone numbers are by far the most important thing any emergency kit can contain. Include your avian veterinarian's phone number and address. Also have an alternative number recorded in case your regular avian veterinarian is not available, and have the number for the closest emergency clinic that will treat birds. Numbers for Animal Poison Control Centers can also be useful.

Restraining towel or stockinette

A washcloth is good for most cockatiels, small conures, and small parakeets. Big, fluffy bath towels are good for large Amazons, macaws, and cockatoos. A stockinette is a tube of material that can be slid over the bird to hold wings still (a sock can also be used).

Scissors

Scissors are great for trimming broken, mature feathers, and cutting tape and bandage materials. It is not recommended that inexperienced bird owners trim broken, bleeding quills as the quill may bleed more profusely.

Sterile saline

Can be used to dilute disinfectants to clean wounds or flush wounds and eyes. Use as directed by your veterinarian for other purposes.

Styptic gel with applicator tip

Use to apply to very minor wounds and a bleeding feather, toenail, or beak. Do not use for deep wounds or serious bleeding. Avoid using styptic powders, which may be toxic if swallowed.

Syringe

A 3-milliliter syringe without a needle can be used to flush small wounds with water or dilute disinfectant and also to “syringe feed” a bird that will not eat. It is strongly recommended not to force feed a bird unless specifically instructed to do so by your avian veterinarian. Many birds will inhale food into the lungs if fed in this manner and this may cause respiratory infections.

Tweezers or hemostat

Used to remove debris from wounds, remove splinters and ticks, and untangle string wound around small feet.