help me please!!!


10 Years
Mar 28, 2009
harford county md
i was away this weekend. when i got back a few of my bird were are very lethargic and ones eyes are completely swollen shut! i have never had to deal with this before and have no idea what to do. please help!


10 Years
Sep 9, 2009
Olympia, WA
I don't know. I would suggest changing the subject line so people that have experienced this will be sure to see it and help you. Hope somebody that knows what to do comes along soon. Bird's are very lethargic and ones eyes are completely swollen shut! Help Please!



10 Years
May 15, 2009
I 'm pretty sure they have a respiratory infection. Call your feedstore and ask them what they suggest for anitibiotics. I have used water soluble Tylan myself but it usually has to be ordered through the mail.

Treat your whole flock for the recommended period of time. Please don't stop the antibiotics until the medication time is up.


10 Years
Mar 31, 2009
SouthEast Texas
I agree with both of these responses, except that, as feed store personnel tend to sometimes sound more knowledgeable than they actually are, i would get some more precise advice from one of the veterans here before purchasing an antibiotic.

Threehorses and DLUnicorn come to mind. I know there are lots more. You could p.m. someone who's online for a quicker response possibly.

Sorry about your stress and your sick chicken.


Elite Silkies

10 Years
Jun 17, 2009
My Coop
My Coop
First, you need to bring them in and get them a nice quiet warm spot.

Check for any drainage first. You do not want to give antibiotics when they are not needed. They will disrupt the good and bad bacteria in their guts.

Pictures would be great too, there are alot of people on here that have gone through lots with their birds. I'm sure they can help you.
Last edited by a moderator:


Nothing In Moderation
12 Years
May 14, 2009
(SW MO) Nevada, Missouri
My Coop
My Coop
Here is a copy of threehorses' excellent article: copied from these links:


When i treat respiratory illnesses, I like to bombard the germs from every angle: medicinal, supportive treatments, nutritional, etc.

With medicines, you want to get a very effective antibiotic, use it full strength (not the 'prevention' strength of some med labels - labels are confusing), use it for a full 7-14 days (or depending on the labeling), and if it doesn't work in four days consider a different antibiotic.

We'll help you figure out which antibiotic. Though depending on the age of the birds, I'm thinking Tylan or LS50. Terramycin isn't very effective any more particularly if you used it and it didn't work. Depending on how long you used the sulmet, it's likely not Pasteuella (cholera) as that would have treated your birds if you used the sulmet for 3 days or more correctly.

(To be honest, it's nearly impossible to determine exactly what bacteria is to blame here - or if this is even bacterial versus fungal or viral... to do so would require a 'culture and sensitivity' from the vet to grow out the bacteria and determine exactly which antibiotics do and don't work for it. In the mean time, we guestimate and avoid using antibiotics unless it's pretty obviously likely bacterial - as in this case.)

Supportive treatments:

In all cases of suspected or actual respiratory illness, I use VetRx for poultry (or rabbits, or any species) to help the birds breathe. A bird that doesn't breathe will not eat. A bird that doesn't eat will not heal. VetRx works like Vicks does for humans - bringing comfort and air to their respiratory tract, possibly reducing inflammation, and definitely reducing mucus. It's very inexpensive for a 2 ounce bottle which, because you dilute it, lasts ages. If you can't find VetRx of any kind in your feed store, call your local big chain pet stores for Marshal Pet Peter rabbit Rx - it's the same thing.

You will use q-tips to swab the bird. Mix a little very hot water and quite a few drops of VetRx together in a cup. Mixing cools the water to warm and emulsifies the oil into the water. Use a new q-tip end for each spot (one nostril one end, next nostril next end...) and a completely new q-tip for each new bird being treated. Use the warm emulsified VetRx to clean and swab the nares - it can get in there a little - helps their sinuses. I clean under each eye very close to the tear duct. I use a vetrx wetted q-tip to swab the cleft in the roof of the mouth. That fumes their sinuses (opens up to the eye sinuses) to facilitate oxygen flow. I personally believe it also reduces inflammation slightly with the cooling effect.
VetRx is NOT a medicine; it's a supportive topical.

Probiotics (also categorized as nutritional):
The bird's digestive tract is lined with beneficial bacteria. They colonize the gut and help the bird digest food by breaking down into absorbable nutrients what the gizzard mechanically broke into smaller pieces. They also excrete enzymes that are said to ward off bad bacteria to some degree. Further more, by the act of literal competition, they fight off some bad bacteria, fungi, and to some degree protazoa.

Any time you have an ill bird, I treat with Probiotics which aren't a medicine but a supporting device. But the live bacteria, if provided, will help replace bacteria that are killed off by medicating, sinus drainage, stress, etc. (Note - the sinuses drain into the digestive tract through that previously mentioned cleft in the roof of the beak - the drainage upsets the pH of the gut, and thus upsets the bacteria there - so we bolster the number of good bacteria through probiotics.)

Your choices: If medicating with anything ending in -cycline or -mycin as an active ingredient (tetracycline, LS50, duromycin, etc) then you cannot use milk products or yogurt. Your options are them Probios powder (from the feedstore or TSC), or acidophilis capsules (Walmart vitamin section, grocery store or drug store or health food store vitamin section). Use the powder from the above to mix into the daily damp mash (only a small bit that they eat first), or another quickly eaten treat like mashed yolk of a boiled egg.

If you're NOT treating with a -mycin or -cycline, you can use plain unflavored yogurt. Use straight, or mix with water to make a quickly eaten damp mash (see below in 'nutritional')

All probiotics - give daily during medication, then every other day for 2 weeks after medications to make sure the bacteria are all replenished. This does NOT make them dependent on your probiotics - it does help them.

A bird must continue to provide fuel for the fight in order to WIN the fight. A bird who is ill often will not eat enough, or possibly not eat at all. It's doubly important that what they DO eat is rich in nutrients, nutritionally balanced, and appropriate for healing.

In all cases, birds should receive their normal complete feed pellets (age-appropriate) free-choice. I find sick birds respond more positively to crumbles than pellets; I'll put pellets in the blender for them. I find they react even more positively to damp (not wet) crumbles. So for an ill bird, I will feed them at least one feeding a day of crumbles dampened with water, water with yogurt, or something similar. You can sneak their probiotics to them this way. You can also use vitamin/electrolyte treated water to dampen the crumbles.

I also am a strong believer in additional vitamins for birds with respiratory illness. Vitamin A is a particularly good vitamin, very important for mucus membranes, respiratory problems, and ocular health. I really like to use Enfamil's PolyViSol liquid vitamins directly in the beak of a bird to facilitate healing. For babies, 1 drop, for medium birds 2 drops, for adults 2-3 drops daily in the beak. OR you can drop the drops onto a tiny piece of egg yolk (boiled). The liquid form of vitamin allows you to give vitamins while meds are in the water. Because it's eaten quickly, it doesn't degrade in the light or water. Give daily during medication and possibly a week thereafter.

Another option, if you give shots of antibiotics, is to use a better-quality vitamin/mineral product like Aviacharge in their water - as labeled for at least 4 days as their sole source of water unless they won't drink it.

Other nutritional: You can offer things to tempt the birds to eat if they won't: boiled egg yolk, a tiny bit of applesauce, cooked oatmeal, etc. Use those things to 'hide' the vitamins and probiotics - use a tiny bit. Make all treats purposeful and healthy.

It's very important for all birds to have good clean air. Ventilation and air quality is particularly important to ill birds who are having a hard time breathing anyway. Make sure to pay careful attention to this, to their bedding, etc. Make sure the bedding stays dry and non-dusty. If you use shavings, try putting the shavings in a box and shaking them first - then scoop the bedding off the top (The dust settles to the bottom).

Also be sure to always do your 'sick-bird-chores' last after all other birds. Droplets fall on the ground, get on your shoes, spread to the other birds. ASo either use different shoes or wipe your shoes with anti-bacterial after doing the sick birds. Using a large man's shirt over your clothes, one you'll only put on in the sick bird room and take off before leaving it - is another excellent option.

I find that if you really bombard a respiratory illness from all sides the birds heal more quickly and thoroughly.

I hope that these suggestions will help you when it comes time to treat your flock for respiratory illness. All suggestions have been used by me personally on everything from slight cases to extreme cases. They work well for me, and I hope that they will help you to bring your flock back to full health.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article and consider my suggestions.​

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