Dealing with Respiratory Problems

I have increasingly learned how to treat birds that get respiratory conditions. I don’t get very many of them. Mostly, they occur when the bird is compromised for other reasons. Many times bird health conditions compound each other. For instance, if a bird is hurt or gets an eye infection, it tends to not get enough water and food, then it gets quickly susceptible to respiratory conditions. If I see any bird that is moving slowly or catches my attention as being in any way lethargic, I pick the bird up and look it over for eye injuries or infection.

Often, if the bird is only recently looking piquey, I sometimes try intubating the bird with an appropriately- sized rubber/plastic tube, and use a syringe to hydrate the bird without risking having it get water into its lungs. Intubation is fairly easy once you have learned how to put the tube gently down the bird’s throat. Then I use a syringe (without a needle) to pour the water down the tube. I give 25 – 30 cc of water or more to the larger breeds, and 15 cc to the smaller breeds. Remember to fill the syringe with air several times and push the water down through the tube with the air, otherwise you’ll fill the tube but not get the liquid into the bird. If the bird needs some calories, I mix up some sugar in the water.

If the bird is very ill, and you see it breathing open-mouthed after handling, try to minimize the handling and the stress on the bird. If a bird is at rest and its breathing is labored and opening its mouth to breathe, it is often too late to save them. I always put them in a warmed cage, give them an antiobiotic, and make sure they are hydrated. Sometimes I have put them in a tented are and misted VetRx in the air with a bubbling mister. It is very iffy.

The other thing that I learned is that susceptibility to respiratory disease can be related to inadequate intake of vitamins, particularly Vitamin A. I put vitamins and electrolytes in the drinking water several times a week.

The above was written before I discovered BAM in early 2006. See below. Now I change out the drinking water every day and add BAM at the 800 to 1 concentration (i.e., 1/2 cc in a gallon of water). I had one Polish hen who had a broken leg. While she was recuperating from the broken leg, she was inactive and came down with some sort of infection that caused her face to swell up. I treated her with antibiotics but she was slowly deteriorating and was getting shocky (open mouth gasping) when I would handle her.. As my first test of BAM, I took her off the antibiotics and started giving her BAM at 100:1 concentration in her water. I would give her the treated water out of a syringe and moisten a little feed with the BAM and hand feed it to her. Within several days, she was not gasping when I handled her and the swelling on her face was reducing. She continued to improve, and started drinking and feeding herself, so I put her in a bigger cage to encourage her to start moving around more and hopefully using her legs. Unfortunately, a predator of some kind got into the cage and did the poor girl in.

At the moment, as of March 2006, I believe that addressing internal parasites, meeting nutritional, mineral and vitamin needs and providing clean drinking water are the most successful things I do to keep my birds healthy, in addition to protecting them from cold and drafts, etc.