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How to Provide Emergency and Supportive Care - Updated 10-30-2016

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 

Disclaimer - Always best to consult with a vet and please understand that I have no medical training!

 

I should stress that IMO, the two things to treat first are hypothermia and dehydration, which is mentioned again later in this post.

 

You've just discovered your bird is sick... Now what? In this post/thread I will attempt to describe how I deal with the mildly sick to critically ill bird when I cannot consult with a vet. Topics covered will be:

 

  • Identifying a sick bird
  • Items needed
  • Stabilization
  • Hospital cage setup
  • Exams
  • Poop inspection
  • Oral fluid therapy
  • Subcutaneous fluid therapy
  • Giving injections
  • Gavage feeding
  • Choosing medications

 

 

Step one is to determine how sick the bird is. When outside, how does it look, sound and act? Stand back in a place where they can't see you and watch them. These are the signs I look for:

  • Weight loss in adult birds and youngsters
  • Lack of weight gain in youngsters
  • Standing with eyes closed
  • Discoloration or change of comb, wattles or caruncles
  • Swellin in abdominal cavity
  • Excessive sneezing or yawning
  • Wings drooping
  • Fluffed feathers
  • Head tucked in
  • Wobbly gait or limping
  • Not interested in food/treats
  • Not drinking 
  • Not roosting
  • Roosting early
  • Roosting longer than others
  • Hanging out alone
  • Vocal changes
  • Behavioral changes of any type
  • Sitting when others are not
  • Panting or open mouth breathing 
  • Abnormal droppings
  • Nasal/eye/ear discharge
  • Facial swelling
  • Raspy breathing
  • Change in egg shells
  • Change in laying habits

 

Once you've identified a sick bird you will need to examine it. This is where it gets a little tricky, 'cause often examining a critically ill bird is enough to send it over the edge

 

Items Needed

  • Scale - Kitchen or postal scale for small and medium sized fowl, bathroom scale for large and x-large fowl.
  • Warm, draft free place for sick birds
  • Tube and syringe for tubing fluids and food if they aren't eating.
  • Chlorhexidine (Novalsan) for wound care.

 

The Exam

  • Begin only if the bird is stable and warm enough.

  • Bring inside where it's warm and get a baseline weight.
  • Evaluate body condition using these charts.

 

 

 

  • Check for mites, lice, ticks, maggots, etc. and treat accrodingly.
  • Check *entire* body for swellings, cuts, bruising, fractures, etc.
  • Check range of motion in legs and wings 
  • Check eyes, mouth and ears for abnormalities (odor, discharge, pus swelling, etc,)

 

Here is the choanal slit, it's what their nares (nostrils) are connected to:

Photo above by BYC's @Nambroth

 

When they shut their beaks/bills it covers the glottis and is how they breathe.

 

"At the base of the tongue, the glottis and the laryngeal mound are located. The larynx of mammals is used for vocalization, but it is the syrinx, located down much further, that is responsible for sound production in birds. The glottis is the opening to the windpipe, or trachea. The choana is located on the roof of the mouth. It is a slit that connects through some passages to the nostrils. One really neat difference that birds have is that the glottis will fit snugly into the choanal slit when the bird closes its mouth, and the bird will then have a closed connection from the nostrils to the windpipe. When a human breathes through the nostrils, the air goes through the back of the throat, which is an open area, to the trachea through the larynx."

Source: http://www.exoticpetvet.net/avian/anatomy.html

 

Exam continued

  • If it's of laying age, check for stuck egg. See instruction below.
  • Temp of body, and legs - are they hot, warm or cold?
  • Crop - Is it full or empty? If full, is it full of fluid or food?
  • Watch carefully for signs of distress and put the bird down immediately if you see any
  • Check hydration status

 

 

Stabilizing the sick bird

Start by placing the bird in a warm room, and slowly correct the hypothermia. If responsive, give warmed fluids at 20ml/kg and repeat in 60-90 min if crop has cleared. 

 

A bird suffering heat stroke should be placed in a *cool* room with access to cool water.

 

Poop inspection

Birds have two type of poop and they're what I call regular poop and cecal poop. Regular poops are the ones the do most often and cecal poop are the stinky, creamy ones that they do a couple of time a day, usually morning and evening. It's important to get to know what normal poop looks and smells like.

 

Poop Pictures (Click to show)

Cecal poop vs regular poop

 

These are overnight poops from a 7 year old rooster that appears to be quite healthy. On the left is a normal cecal poop, on the right are pretty normal regular poops, though one pile has a little spec of red. 

 

This is the same poop moved to a paper towel. regular poop on top, cecal on bottom.

 

Same poop again. Notice the creamy texture of the cecal poop compared to the regular poop. Interestingly, I think maybe I can see a cecal worm in this picture. Will go back and see if I can verify.

This one is part cecal poop, part regular poop. I call it "The Combo"

 

Normal peafowl cecal poop:

 

 

 

More poop pictures:

The Hospital Cage

Sick birds are almost always hypothermic, so it's very important to place them in a warm, quiet draft free room where you can maintain the temperature of the cage at at least 80 degrees. Be careful when using heat lamps or heating pads because many birds are too sick to move away from the heat if they're too hot.

 

Provide food and water, but make sure the water dish is one they cannot drown in. 

 

This would make a good hospital cage:

http://www.rainbowparrots.com/brooder.php

 

 

 

 

 

Things You Should Never Do

  • Never bathe a sick bird.
  • Do not hold the bird upside down.
  • Do not vomit the bird unless a vet has advised you to do so.
  • Do not give oil with a syringe unless a vet has advised you to. 
  • Do not leave the sick bird outside in the cold.

 

How to Check for a Stuck Egg

Put on a glove and water based lube and very gently insert you finger in the vent. If an egg is there you will feel it at about an inch in. Here are some pictures to help you visualize where the egg should be:

 

 

If you find a stuck egg and the hen is still pooping, tube warmed fluids at 10 ml per pound, wait 60-90 minutes, then tube more fluids and give calcium gluconate at 50mg per pound. Place hen in a steam filled bathroom and let the fluids and calcium do their magic.

 

Do not give oral fluids if the bird cannot poop!

 

 

 

Wound Care

Start by inspecting all of the bird as it can be easy to miss smaller punctures and lacerations. Carefully pluck feathers 1/2" away from wound edges. Feathers should be plucked in the direction that they grow to avoid the skin tearing. Thoroughly clean wound with sterile water, saline, or chlorhexidine (Novalsan)or betadine.

 

 

 

 

http://www.jefferspet.com/products/chlorhexidine-disinfectant-gallon

 

Click here for an excellent post on wound care.

 

 

Bumblefoot Surgery

Click here to read a post about doing your own bumblefoot surgery.

 

Fractures

See this link - https://theiwrc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Duerr_Splinting_Manual_2010.pdf

 

 

IM (intramuscular) Injections

All intramuscular injections should be given in the breast muscle towards the front of the bird. Never give injection in the leg or thigh. Needle should be inserted at a sharp angle and inserted about 1/4". Be careful not to go all the way to the breast bone. Remember to pull back on plunger to check for blood. If you see blood, redirect needle and try again. 

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Subcutaneous Fluids

Click here to see how I give subcutaneous Fluids

 

 

Subcutaneous Injections

This is how some people give subcutaneous injections.

 

Another place to give subcutaneous injections is in the inguinal flap

 

This photo by BYC's @Nambroth

 

 

 

 

 

How to give Oral Medications

Oral Dosing by @new 2 pfowl

 

• How do I know if I should be administering medication orally?

 

This depends upon various factors, such as what the medication is and how ill your bird is. In general, keep in mind that oral dosing is often the best way to control dosage and to ensure that your bird actually receives this dosage.

 

• What tools do I need to dose orally? Where do I get them?

 

You will need a small oral medication (needleless) syringe, suggested size 1 ml/cc, depending upon the dose being administered. They can be easily obtained online (for example, search for “oral medication syringe” on Amazon).

Processed By eBay with ImageMagick, z1.1.0. ||B2

 

Please see details elsewhere in this thread about where to obtain medication.

 

• How do I determine the dosage?

 

Please see helpful dosing information elsewhere in this thread.

 

• How do I do it, anyways?

 

You will need a helper to ensure the safety and proper medication of your bird.

 

1. Have your medication measures and the syringe prepared before taking any action.

2. Catch and restrain the bird.

3. Have your helper gently pry the bird’s beak open.

 

 

4. Be sure that you understand where the medication-filled syringe should be inserted.

The opening in the center at the back of the tongue is the trachea – nothing should ever go in there!

 

 

 

5. Gently insert the syringe alongside the tongue, and inject the medication slowly to ensure that it does not spill over into the trachea.

 

 

 

* Please note that images are courtesy of Craig Hopkins, http://www.hopkinslivestock.com/peafowl.htm

How to Warm Fluids and Food

Click here for tip on how to warm fluids and food.

 

 

 

Tube Feeding Links

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Kathy

 

Disclaimer - Always best to consult with a vet and please understand that I have no medical training!

 

Find and avian vet in your area here:

http://www.aav.org/search/custom.asp?id=1803

http://www.majesticwaterfowl.org/vetfinder.htm

 

State vets:

http://www.usaha.org/Portals/6/StateAnimalHealthOfficials.pdf

 

Labs:

https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahln/downloads/all_nahln_lab_list.pdf

 

 

 

This is a work in progress, please check back for updates!

 

 

Anyone wanna help write this? Looking for volunteers to write a paragraph or two about a few subjects. Of course you will be given full credit for anything you write. 

 

For example, it would be really helpful if someone could write up some suggestion for making a hospital cage and go into some detail about why the heat is necessary. If you don't know, I could try to explain it as well as provide some links for you to read.

 

Also need one for basic wound care. Something that describes how to debride, flush, clean, wrap, etc. 

 

References I use:

http://avianmedicine.net/publication_cat/avian-medicine/

http://avianmedicine.net/publication_cat/clinical-avian-medicine/

http://avianmedicine.net/publication_cat/avian-examiner/

http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/cahfs/about/publications/cahfs_connection.cfm

http://www.exoticpetvet.net/

http://redcreekwildlifecenter.com/wct.pdf

http://redcreekwildlifecenter.com/wcc.pdf

http://www.ncwildliferehab.org/conf2012/Handouts/FluidTherapy

http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wat/wq/reference/foodandwater.html#domestic

http://www.rainbowparrots.com/brooder.php

 

The AAAP Avian Disease Manual

Veterinary Parasitology Reference Manual

Plumb's Veterinary Drug Handbook

Diseases of Poultry

The Merck Veterinary Manual

 

TechnicalProceduresfortheAvianPatient.pdf 197k .pdf file

From this link: 

http://www.fvmace.org/FVMA_83rd_Annual_Conference/Proceedings/Technical%20Procedures%20for%20the%20Avian%20Patient.html


Edited by casportpony - 10/30/16 at 8:02am
post #2 of 37

This should be a sticky in the emergency forum. As should Kathy's signature links. :)


Edited by Toddrick - 11/6/15 at 2:07pm
post #3 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toddrick View Post

This should be a sticky in the emergency forum. As should Kathy's signature links. smile.png
Agreed
post #4 of 37

Thank You Kathy!  [Subscribing]

Bambrook Bantams; Home to Cilla, Dusty, LuLu, Blondie and Crystal

 

'There is No snooze button on a chicken who wants breakfast'

 

'Until One Has Loved An Animal, Part Of Their Soul Remains Unawakened'

 

My Chicken Page: http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/bambrook-bantams

 

Teila's Tales from the Coop: http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1109051/teilas-tales-from-the-coop

Reply

Bambrook Bantams; Home to Cilla, Dusty, LuLu, Blondie and Crystal

 

'There is No snooze button on a chicken who wants breakfast'

 

'Until One Has Loved An Animal, Part Of Their Soul Remains Unawakened'

 

My Chicken Page: http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/bambrook-bantams

 

Teila's Tales from the Coop: http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1109051/teilas-tales-from-the-coop

Reply
post #5 of 37

Warm your fluids

Trauma, injury, illness, or disease can contribute to a bird to become hypothermic. Although not always obvious it can be seen when a bird

shivers or fluffs/ruffles it's feathers. Therefore, it is advisable to warm up fluids before giving or administering to lessen shock from cold

fluids and to help warm up the birds core temperatures. This is to include all water or liquids for drinking and baths, medicines (oral,

injection, and SQ), and foods for tube feeding. In addition, cold fluids/foods are more likely to be vomited and lead to aspiration (sucking

food or liquid into the airway) if not warmed prior to treatment.

 

Liquids should be above room temperature. It should be comfortable when applied to your wrist. If it's too hot for your wrist... it's too hot.

It's like giving a warm bottle to a baby.

 

Water for Bathing, drinking, mixing with medicine:
Run hot water from the tap until it is warm and comfortable on your wrist. Use immediately.

 

Water to mix with food for tube feeding:
Run very hot water from tap or boil. Mix with food. Cool until warm and comfortable when a drop is placed on your wrist. At this point I like to

fill the syringe and place it into a tall glass of warm water to keep warm until the moment of use.

 

Medicines in liquid form ready to administer:
Run very hot (not boiling) water into a bowl. Place medicines contained in a sealed and waterproof container/bag into the water and weigh down

if necessary. Leave it to sit in the bowl until the water has cooled to the point it's comfortable to your wrist. You'll want to agitate the

container/bag a few times so the warmth distributes evenly as you're warming it.


DO NOT ever use a microwave! Microwaving can cause overheating and uneven heat distribution. Glass containers used in a microwave can have hot

spots and cause scalding. Plastics can melt and/or leach harmful substances in the water. In liquids other than water, microwaves can damage or

change the molecular structure of some components of medicines and render them ineffective or cause coagulation. Just don't do it.


Edited by Free Spirit - 11/10/15 at 1:50pm

You win some and lose some. When at first you don't succeed: try... try... try... try and try again.

 

How to Provide Emergency and Supportive Care        

Maintaining a Healthy Flock

Chicken Injuries & Diseases

Poop Chart 

Emergency Helpful References & Links

Reply

You win some and lose some. When at first you don't succeed: try... try... try... try and try again.

 

How to Provide Emergency and Supportive Care        

Maintaining a Healthy Flock

Chicken Injuries & Diseases

Poop Chart 

Emergency Helpful References & Links

Reply
post #6 of 37
Thread Starter 

Everyone, thanks for your support! Anyone wanna help write this? Looking for volunteers to write a paragraph or two about a few subjects. Of course you will be given full credit for anything you write. 

 

For example, it would be really helpful if someone could write up some suggestion for making a hospital cage and go into some detail about why the heat is necessary. If you don't know, I could try to explain it as well as provide some links for you to read.

 

Also need one for basic wound care. Something that describes how to debride, flush, clean, wrap, etc. 

 

-Kathy

post #7 of 37

Hi Kathy, I need to have something handy  for sneezing and URI. I've read people's chickens dying because they couldn't find the meds in time. What do you suggest I keep on hand? I was thinking something you add to the water and dosages? I'm hoping for the best but preparing for the worst as they are predicting historic rain and cold this winter.

Walk gently on this earth. Do no harm. Laugh a lot at yourself. Be kind even when it's  hard.
Reply
Walk gently on this earth. Do no harm. Laugh a lot at yourself. Be kind even when it's  hard.
Reply
post #8 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mutt Farm View Post

Hi Kathy, I need to have something handy  for sneezing and URI. I've read people's chickens dying because they couldn't find the meds in time. What do you suggest I keep on hand? I was thinking something you add to the water and dosages? I'm hoping for the best but preparing for the worst as they are predicting historic rain and cold this winter.

I will put together a list of drugs that might come in handy.

-Kathy
post #9 of 37
Thread Starter 

One thing I think all bird owners should have is something other than peroxide or betadine to clean wounds with. 2% Chlorhexidine (Novalsan) is what I recommend.

 

-Kathy

post #10 of 37
Thread Starter 

Started another thread that I will try to incorporate into this one:

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1064392/step-by-step-tube-feeding-guide-pictures

 

-Kathy

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