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like humans, birds can become sick for a wide variety of reasons.
Common problems are infections by bacteria, fungi,
yeast or viruses, or attack
by parasites such as gut worms or mites and lice, or poor diet.
In addition, injury can cause illness in birds. Certain specific
problems are dealt with in articles listed on the navigation
bar to the left. This article concentrates on the nutritional
support we can give to most sick birds.
symptoms are present in most sick birds. The first is diarrhoea
and the second is a loss of appetite. These two either together,
or on their own, are more likely to kill the sick bird than
the initial cause of the disease.
suffer from digestive system upsets quite frequently. They can
be caused by infection, stress or just a sudden change in diet.
When birds get diarrhoea they lose large quantities of water
in the droppings and as a result they dehydrate. The water lost
this way also takes with it many soluble mineral salts known
as electrolytes. These include potassium, sodium, magnesium,
sulphate and chloride. The loss of these electrolytes is life
threatening and they must be replaced urgently.
have a huge requirement for regular energy intake. As a result
they eat about ten times as much food, compared to their body
weight, as we do. Also they don't have significant fat reserves.
So a bird that loses its appetite soon finds itself using more
energy than it is replacing through the little it is eating.
To keep its temperature up it starts to metabolise (burn up)
its own tissues so it rapidly loses weight. In only a few days
a bird can drop to just half of its normal body weight.
birds in actual fact die, not of the effects of the bug that
is attacking them, but due to dehydration or starvation!
Birdcare Company sick bird management programmes are designed
to counter these two killers and will not interfere with any
medication that you or your vet may administer.
know when your bird looks a little "under the weather". It spends
time sitting a bit fluffed up. It is still feeding and drinking,
though perhaps less than normal, but between periods of activity
it appears unwell. The symptoms may be caused by infection,
parasites, bad weather or simply the stress of breeding.
the cause of the problem is not major then the bird's immune
system will probably be capable of providing a cure, so long
as the bird's energy and mineral salts are maintained.
of minor ailments
energy and mineral salts can be provided by adding Guardian Angel
the drinking water at a dose of 1 gram per 50 mls (3 pinches
per fluid ounce) of water. Guardian
Angel contains the mineral salts essential to prevent dehydration
and unique "long chain glucose polymers" (quite different to
ordinary sugar or glucose) to provide long lasting energy.
unique polymers enable the bird to benefit from a prolonged
energy source, even if it only drinks twice per day. Other sugar-like
energy sources (glucose, dextrose, etc.) can be dangerous for
sick birds as they cause "osmotic diarrhoea" and worsen the
dehydration that the bird is already suffering.
Angel will help your bird to fight infections throughout
the body by supplying its immune system with extra special nutrients
for the job.
Angel contains the beneficial bacteria and garlic extract
from out BioPlus
technology. This mixture will often more quickly re-establish
a healthy gut flora and so speed the recovery process. Potent Brew
also be added as this unique "live" probiotic is even more powerful.
Angel or BioPlus
are all strongly recommended if your bird has been on a course
that are even less well may still be eating but may have difficulty
digesting their food. These birds need a food that is very easily
of more major illnesses
the same essential mineral salts and "long chain glucose polymers"
Angel, as well as an easily digested protein source and
a megadose of vitamins. Survive should be mixed with the bird's
normal softfood to boost its energy intake. The sweet nature
of Survive makes it highly palatable. Potent
Brew can also be added.
that are too sick even to eat are "on the critical list". Traditionally
we have placed these patients into a hospital cage or in front
of a heat lamp. This is a good practice but enough water must
be placed in the cage to maintain a high humidity. Remember
the bird is already dehydrated and a dry heat could speed up
death. The bird also desperately needs to replace its energy
and its lost mineral salts
of Very Sick Birds
the bird is not eating it must be spoon fed Survive
or force fed Survive
with a crop tube. You can add Potent
Brew and medications to Survive
as well if desired.
is a unique product. A sick bird will often live on Survive
alone for days. It will gain strength and put on weight. Most
will stop it starving to death, often giving it time to deal
with its illness or time for your medication to cure it. Because
of the long lasting effect of Survive
your bird will only need feeding twice a day. This minimises
stress and reduces the time involved in caring for the patient.
is effective for all types of birds (and reptiles and mammals).
Meat eating, fish eating and nectar eating birds all recover
well on Survive.
A heron at the St Tiggiewinkles Wildlife Hospital was fed on
14 days before it started to eat day old chicks.
is not a drug. It is purely nutrition. But if your bird needs
will not interfere with the drugs that you or your vet administers.
its initial dose of Survive
it would be wise to put the bird in a hospital cage, again -
remembering the adequate water supply.
2: Weaning off Survive
the bird recovers and its digestive system becomes more effective
it can be weaned off Survive
and onto its normal food, including a vitamin mix such as Daily Essentials3
the bird is weaned off Survive,
start to add Guardian
Angel to the drinking water. This both continues the "long
chain glucose polymer" supplementation (at a lower dosage) and
maintains the intake of electrolytes. The change to normal food
boosts the fibre intake and helps the digestive track to recover.
fed on complete diets will also increase their water intake
so helping to fight dehydration. So make sure they have adequate
content of the diet is reduced, the frequency of feeds should
increase again, since the bird is now taking in more conventional
Angel should continue until you feel the bird has returned
to full health.
patient will be different. In general you should be taking the
bird through the stages at a steady pace. The brighter the bird
becomes the quicker it will start to feed itself. Ensure that
the bird receives adequate vitamins.
is such a concentrated nutrition that your sick bird requires
very little. A budgie requires 5 grams (a heaped teaspoonful)
per day. A large cockatoo may require ten times that much. Full
dosage rates by bird weights are on the label.
will not save birds with diseases that cause significant
internal organ damage but it will save plenty of birds that
you thought would die!