I saw the signs...
by Jami Galindo
Recently I did a poll asking for blog suggestions. I will be periodically working through them all. Today I will be elaborating on the "Signs of Illness" and we will be using the image provided and expanding on the explanation.
Note: Where you see the phrase "First Aid" be advised that first aid is immediate support to keep your bird alive until you can get them to a Vet ... it is NOT replacement for Veterinary care.
1) "Change in appearance or posture_ruffled feathers, weakness, unable to stand or perch, sitting on the bottom of the cage, or a lower perch, droopy wings, convulsions or shaking." You see you bird daily, so any and I mean ANY change pay attention. Ruffled feathers are an attempt to regulate body temperature. Inability to stand perch droopy wings shaking or hold food is a huge sign of weakness and needs immediate attention. (A quick first aid here is a bit of dark cherry juice and a hospital cage with a padded warm bottom in a quiet area.)
2) "Change is respiration, any noticeable breathing, any change in the tone of the voice, respiratory sounds like wheezing, clicking or excessive sneezing."
Look at your bird Listen to your bird. These changes could indicate allergic reactions to toxins in the environment among other very dire ailments. (First aid here would be a steam. Take your bird to the bathroom and replicate a steam room, turn on the full hot water and sit in the room with your bird for 30 to 45 minutes just breathing in the steam. This can be repeated every 2 to 3 hours.)
3) "A change in weight or general condition; prominent breast bone due to muscle loss."
This means know the look and feel of your bird. You should weigh your bird regularly, but more than that you can feel your bird and tell is there is a change in size. (First aid here is dark cherry juice, scrambled eggs warmed veggie only baby food warmed softened pellets or cooked sweet potato, while you find the reason for the weight loss.)
4) "Change in dropping not attributable to diet, any sign of blood, change in consistency or color."
We all clean enough poop that we know what is normal and not normal. Be aware (I know I keep saying this but KNOW your bird! Morning poop is going to be BIG, but should not be smelly, through the day should look formed and have green and white. Note usually the color in will be the color coming out. Blood will look black, and is critical. VET IMMEDIATELY! (Be aware of what goes in and if there is any concerns vet immediately. Poop is a sign of internal workings and can be the first indication of issues.)
5) "Swelling of the body , enlargement of a localized area, bleeding or discharge." This could be an indication of an injury, renal issues, but could be indicative of other very serious organ issues as well. Again know the feel of your bird, know what they look like know what they feel like in your hands, feel for lumps and bumps. Look at the feet and joints. Swelling of the vent area on a hen bird is an indication of an impending egg. (Quick first aid for feet and joints reduce the swelling is dark cherry juice daily and celery seeds on the chop until you can get to a vet.)
6) "Vomiting or excessive regurgitation."
Vomiting is a VERY serious symptom in birds. Regurgitation is a sign of mating nesting parenting and bonding. The difference is vomiting is violent and side-to-side head shaking. Regurgitation is usually done with soft coos and cuddles maybe some soft preening and the head motion is up and down like a piston. In regurgitation there may or may not be any liquid, with vomit they usually is always a liquid. (For vomiting VET IMMEDIATELY! For the regurgitation redirect the activity and implement immediate hormonal management suggestions.)
7) "Decreased or Excessive food and or water consumption."
A decrease in food or water intake could indicate severe illness and or GI tract impactions. Increase in food and water could indicate such things like malnutrition and or heavy metal toxicity or diabetes. All of which need to be diagnosed by a vet. Again KNOW your bird and know the eating habits.
8) "Discharge from eyes nose or mouth."
This is dire. ANY discharge from a supposed dry area needs immediate attention. (Quick first aid, the steam techniques from above.)
9) "Change in attitude-decreased activity. Less talking more sleeping, lack of response to stimuli."
I know I have said this before, but KNOW your bird and know what is normal play, know what is normal napping, and and listless behavior. This could indicate very serious issues, and a immediate vet is needed. (Quick first aid dark cherry juice and try to determine the causes to inform your vet.)
As I read back over this I guess the reoccurring advise is KNOW YOUR BIRD and know what is normal and know what the sound and feel of your bird. If any changes VET. Birds will hide an illness to the point of it being too late. Prevention is the best health care for a companion parrot. Keep the diet low energy, keep the environment clean, and keep the bird happy and busy and you will have a healthy bird.