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First Aid And Elements By S.R. Sane

15 August 2014 Comments::DISQUS_COMMENTS

S.R. Sane
the Chairman, of SANJEEVAN (Association)
is a qualified Zoologist and experience of over 50 years of
Keeping & Breeding birds, reptiles & amphibians.

It is only in the last few decades that a lot of veterinary research in the cage and aviary bird's treatment has been taking place in the affluent countries. This has been due to the fast increase in the bird keeping hobbies and captive breeding programs. In India, due to the low volume of this hobby of bird keeping as well as insignificant captive breeding programs, there is hardly any significant veterinary research in the cage/wild bird subject. We still are four or five decades behind the affluent countries though we have a lot of information available on the internet. Normally vet. graduates are not interested in specialising in this field. They cannot see possibilities of private practice in cage birds.


Now if you have a collection of a few birds then you cannot buy a thermostatically controlled hospital cage to keep an ailing bird. So you have to fabricate a cage which will serve the purpose of a hospital cage. You have to take a box cage and fit it with a electric bulb in the back corner of the cage. Depending on the room temperature, adjust the wattage of the bulb so that the temperature is between 35 C and 37 C (i.e. 95 F and 99 F). If you feel any of your birds is dull or sulky, then first put it in this cage and observe it for symptoms like loose motions/stools, breathlessness etc. prior to further treatment. If no symptoms are noticeable then wait for a period of 24hrs. Normally, if the bird is suffering from a minor ailment then it will start moving away from the bulb. Otherwise it will start showing some clear symptoms and treatment can be started accordingly. In 50 to 60% cases the birds revive without any further treatment.

Many a time, an infectious disease may strike birds, but symptoms of the disease can be vague, and the disease can be determined definitely only after the bird dies and a post-mortem examination is carried out on it, often requiring a skilled person with laboratory facilities.  An early diagnosis of the disease becomes important when an infection strikes a large number of birds and large-scale preventive / curative medication becomes necessary. In cases of large-scale (or flock medication, as it is called), antibiotics and chemo-therapy has to be resorted.  Many a time such medicines and drugs can be purchased only through a prescription given by a doctor or a veterinarian.  The medicine can be given to the bird in powder form or as a liquid, mixed with its seed diet, or it may have to be injected.  The powder has to be soluble in water if it is to be given as a drink, often the sick bird loses its appetite or goes off drinking water.  If given as a powder, it is difficult to give the full dose, Liquid medicine can be mixed in the drinking water, it is ideal for flock medication or in prevention of infection.

Liquid medicine can be given orally (i.e.. by mouth), but this may require catching the bird and using a dropper with its tip into the bird's open beak.  For a greater quantity of liquid medicine, one can resort to using a flexible polyethylene tube deep into the bird's mouth and extending to its crop.  This also ensures giving it an accurate dose, as none of the liquid medicine will spill out of the beak.  But this method should be learnt by observing a professional, so as not to injure the bird.  Injections are again best given by a veterinarian; often a micro-syringe has to be used, as the dosage of medicine may be quite small.  Such injections are usually given intra-muscularly, mostly in the pectoral (chest) muscles or thigh, as these muscles are large and easy to locate.


THE BEAK

The usual cause for concern is overgrown and/or deformed beaks.This can happen in all birds, but is most common in parrots and parakeets.

Causes
1) Hereditary (Congenital)
2) Dirty nests (faulty nest hygiene), along with any hard debris impacting on the hard palate. This in turn, causes undue pressure which then leads to malformation of the beak
3) Wrong diet.  This can cause rickets.  Deficiency of vitamin B, Folic acid and biotin leads to thinness of keratin (horn)
4) Little use of the beak by the bird. This is commonly associated with life in the cage or aviary.
5) Injury leading to fracture and loss of the upper beak.  This happens mostly to parrots and parakeets.
6) Parasites resulting in “Scaly face”. Commonest in budgerigars, but also found in parrots, finches and other birds.
7) Chronic infection of the sinuses (sinusitis), tuberculosis, granuloma of the cere, aspergillosis of the mouth.
8) Tumor of the beak, facial or cranial (skull) bones.
9) Nervousness, leading to gnawing the wires of the cage.  Happens mostly in parrots and parakeets.
10) Old age (Senility) or weakness (debility)    

TREATMENT
This will depend on the cause.
It may sound cruel, but it is best to get rid of congenital (hereditary) cases.
Where malnutrition is the cause, increase the amount of vitamins and calcium in the diet.
Parasites. The treatment will depend on which parasite is the causative.
Scaly face could be generally cured with the application of liquid paraffin or other edible oils.
For granulomate, surgery in the form of cautery (burning) or with caustic is usually done.  In sinusitis, curetting (draining) the local lesions is resorted to.
In all cases of overgrown and deformed beaks, the beak requires continued reshaping with scissors, nail cutters or fine files, care should be taken, when doing this, not to cut the blood vessels in the beak.

The cere and Nares
Hyperkeratinisation of the cere.  Too much of keratin (horn) forms on the cere.  It is often seen in budgerigars and parakeets.

Cause
It may be due to ill-health, old age (senility) or weakness (debility)

Treatment
Carefully trim the excess of keratin with a knife, then apply cod-liver oil, shark liver oil or any oily vitamin  A  preparation.

Blockage of the nares
The nostrils get blocked by a discharge, the appearance of which varies depending on the cause.

Causes
1) Hyperkeratinisation (over formation of horn)
2) Sinusitis
3) Disease of the respiratory tract (breathing system, such as lungs, bronchi, etc.)

Treatment
Clean the nares with saline (salt solution) or with a mild antiseptic.  Remove excess keratin (horn) and exudates (discharges) control infection with antibiotic or 1% sulphadimidine solution.

Skin and Feathers
Soft and delayed moult  usually found in more domesticated birds.

1) Fluctuations of temperature.
2) Faulty diet
3) Absence of bathing opportunity

Symptoms
The bird moults continuously and the feathers are ruffled.  This is followed by debility.

Treatment
The problem arising from incorrect management and feeding, can be corrected by adding linseed and green food to the diet.

Feather Plucking
Birds continuously peck each other and damage the feathers.  Found mainly in canaries and small finches .

Causes
1) Overcrowding.
2) Lack of bathing facility, lack of hygiene.
3) Ecto (external) parasites.
4) Inherent bad habit.

Treatment
The bully should be separated from other birds, and faulty management should be rectified.  Clean and disinfect cages, and provide bathing facilities.  Give treatment for removal of ectoparasites.  If young in a nest are pecked, remove them to a nest outside the cage, but in such a position that the parents can feed them from inside but without directly mixing.

Self-feather Plucking
Occurs in canaries, finches and parakeets and tame big parrots.

Causes
1) After moulting.
2) Infection by feather  mites
3) Bad habit due to boredom.
4) Psychological (a nervous habit)

Symptoms
Scratching, feather-plucking and heavy  moulting.

Treatment
1) Remove the bully, or give larger space.
2) Improve and vary the diet.  Kill ectoparasites.

Frilled  Feathers
This occurs normally in some kinds of canaries (like the Dutch frill ) and sometimes in bullfinch. Probably hereditary; sometimes it stops after moulting.

Cyanism
The normal Rose-ringed or other parakeets like Amazon parakeets which normally have a green ground-colour, instead have a bluish shade. This is due to wrong feeding. But it could be hereditary mutation.

Xanthochroism
Yellow pigment spots arise in the feathers, So that, in the Rose finch , the scarlet colouration changes to Yellow/orange after moulting.  It may be due to inadequate seed, minerals or insects in the diet. It could be a hereditary mutation also.

Melanism
Black feathers appear among the coloured feathers, as in old Munias.  It may be due to thyroid deficiency; or deficiency in food .
I do not know of any hereditary mutations.

Tumours of the skin
These may be benign or malignant (cancerous) and occur more in highly domesticated birds like canaries. Many of these are just dermal cysts.

Uropygitis (Impaction of the preen gland)
The Preen gland gets filled with a hard substance of the consistency of cheese.

Treatment
Massage the gland and gently squeeze out the matter, then apply antibiotic ointment.  Tumors of the preen gland have to be removed surgically.

Eyes
Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the surface of the eyeball)

Keratitis (Inflammation of the cornea) Both of these are sometimes found together.

Causes
1) Injury
2) Foreign bodies on the eye, or a membrane around the eye.
3) Infection, Common in parakeets as infections.

Kerato Conjunctivitis. These are highly infections and may be caused by a virus.

Signs
In simple conjunctivitis, the conjunctiva is red and the eye is partly closed.  In keratitis, the cornea is opaque or inflamed.  There is also a discharge from the eye; this may be watery or pus-like (purulent).  Irritation causes the bird to rub its eye on the perch or scratch it.  Usually both eyes are affected.

Treatment
Clean the eye gently with saline, taking care not to damage it further.  If there is a foreign body in the eye, bathe the eye, then apply antibiotic (drops or ointment) such as chlortetracycline (aureomycin) or chloramphenicol (chloromycetin). Panophthalmitis (Inflammation inside the eyeball):  This is often a result of kerato  conjunctivitis, especially if there is a penetrating wound in the eye.

PANOPHTHALMITIS

Signs
Same as for eye inflammation, but there is more pain, the eye is opaque and the discharge is always purulent (not watery)

Treatment
As above, but also administer antibiotics orally (by mouth) or by injection.  Sometimes, removal of the eye ball may be necessary, otherwise septicaemia or meningitis may set in and kill the bird.

Coryza (Eye  Cold)
It is also, known as 'One-eyed roup' or 'ophthalimia' and occurs in pigeons.  It is a form of conjunctivitis.

Cause
It may be due to a deficiency of vitamin A or an infection.  It usually affects birds less than a year old, and is thought to be contagious.  Birds which are cured do not seem to get it again.

Signs
The tissues around the eye are swollen, and there is a watery discharge (usually from one eye only) Irritation causes rubbing of eyes on the shoulder .

Treatment
Same as for conjunctivitis.  Improve cleanliness, and give sufficient vitamin A.

Cataract
The lens in the eye is partly or wholly opaque.  

Cause
Can be due to old age, as in parrots, or hereditary as in some canaries (especially the Norwich and crested canaries). Vitamin A deficiency or a penetrating wound on the cornea can also cause this.

Signs
Usually (but not always), both eyes have the cataract.  The lens is an opaque blue, grey or white in the area of the pupil.  Due to failing eye sight, behavior may change.

Treatment
High dose of vitamin A will only delay the speed of opacity.

Scaly legs
Also called “tassle-foot” and seen in canaries, it is due to parasites.  See the relevant section for treatment.

Dry Gangrene
Also seen in canaries, it may be contagious.

Signs :
The toes (digits) and ankle (metatarsals) appear purple and later, black.  The area feels cold when touched.  The lower part of the leg may finally fall off.

Treatment :
Cleanliness of the cage is essential.  Clean the cage thoroughly and disinfect it.  Also clean the affected part with a mild disinfectant, and apply chloramphenicol (chloromycetin) tincture.  

Gangrene
This results in death of the tissues.  It is caused by failure of blood supply by the arteries, usually to the lower part of the leg, and can happen to any bird.

Causes :
1) Severe fracture in the leg; this interferes with the blood supply.
2) Constriction (squeezing) due to tight ring on the leg.
3)Twining of fibres / hair, etc. around the leg (mostly in nesting birds)
4) Faulty diet.
5) Frost bite (in severe winter in the north)

Signs :
Swollen, stiff toes that finally fall off.  In the early stages the bird continuously shifts position due to pain, and keeps the affected foot off the perch.

Treatment :
You must remove the cause of the constriction, give adequate diet if no cause is visible.  Local application of cod liver oil or shark liver oil helps in early cases. If sloughing begins, apply antibiotic dressings.

Digital Dermatitis
Also called 'sore feet', it is an inflammation of the toes.  Usually in soft bills and canaries.

Causes :
1) Too much perching and too little exercise.
2) Dirty perch, as the bird wipes its bill on the perch, leaving bits of  fruits and nectar on it.
3) Bacterial infection by streptococcus and staphylococcus.

Signs :
Inflamed and swollen toes, especially at the base of the claws.  The bird cannot grip the perch properly due to pain, and constantly shifts its position.  Abscesses and ulcers may form on the underside of the feet.

Treatment :
Proper management, more exercise and clean perches.  Use fomentation of hot saline.  Lance any abscess.  Apply iodine oil locally. Add vitamin supplements to the diet.  In serious cases, apply antibiotic locally, or give this orally (by mouth) or by injection.

Bumblefoot
Common in ducks, pigeons and pheasants.

Signs :
The bird becomes lame; later there is a swelling on the soft pars of the underside of the foot, which may be hot and painful.

Treatment :
Lance the abscess, clean with antiseptic solution and apply antibiotic dressing.  Also give antibiotic or sulphathiazole orally.

Tumours
Osteosarcoma is a malignant tumor of the bones of the leg.  Papilloma is a wart or skin tumor on the feet of chaffinches.  Usually only one foot is affected, surgery can be done.

Arthritis
It is an inflammation of the joints.

Cause :
Many bacteria, such as streptococci, staphylococci, micrococci, tuberculosis or aspergillosis are involved.

Signs :
Enlarged joints  usually the tarsal joint.  Later and in severe cases a mixed discharge of blood and pus oozes from the joint.

Treatment :
Apply antibiotic locally and internally.  A bacterial identification may be necessary for selecting the proper antibiotic.

Gout
Most common in budgerigars, parakeets and canaries.

Cause :
It is chronic and is due to the deposition of ureates (salts) below the skin around the joints  mainly the tarso-metatorsal joint, wing joints and cervical (neck) vertebrae (backbone). It is a result of nephritis (a kidney malfunction).

Signs :
Restlessness, lifting one foot in turns so as to shift the body weight.  Joints are swollen, with a white deposit under the skin at the joint.

Treatment :
There is no remedy.

Crooked Toe Disease
Occurs in pheasants, partridges and quails.

Causes :
1) Cramped aviary or cage.
2) Vitamin / Mineral deficiency.
3) Wrong incubation of eggs at an unduly high temperature.

Signs :
The malformation is manifest as early as a few days after hatching to six weeks age.  One or more toes are bent sideways at the joint.

Treatment :  
Give more phosphates and minerals.  Improve general management.

Curly Toe Disease
It is also known as Nutritional paralysis or curled toe paralysis, and is found in poultry chickens as well as pheasants, partridges and quails.

Cause :
Deficiency of riboflavin (vitamin B2)

Signs :
The toes in both feet are curled under the feet, so that the chick cannot stand but sinks down on its hocks.  Appears at 3 to 5 weeks after hatching, and growth is arrested.  There is high mortality unless immediately treated.

Treatment :
Giving yeast immediately halts the paralysis.  But it is best to prevent it by giving dried yeast, dry skimmed milk and synthetic vitamin B2 in the diet.

Rickets
Cause :
Deficiency of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D.

Signs :
Twisting and (sometimes) shortening of the legs.  The bird cannot support its weight or fly.  The general condition and that of the feathers is poor.

Treatment :
Give fish meal, bone meal, milk and vitamin D3.  But very badly affected birds may have to be destroyed.

Slipped Hock Disease
Occurs in ducks and pheasants.

Cause :
Deficiency of manganese or vitamin B complex, or too much calcium or phosphorus in the diet.

Signs :
The Achilles tendon (situated at the back of the hock) shifts to one side, so that the bird squats.

Treatment :
If noticed early, proper diet may alleviate the condition.  Mechanical support with Elastoplast helps.  There is no treatment for advanced cases.  

Stiff  Claw
Also known as Slipped Claw disease, it occurs in budgerigars and canaries.

Cause :
Injury or vitamin B deficiency causes paralysis of the bird claw.

Signs :
Due to paralysis of the bird claw, the bird cannot grip the perch, and comes forward over the perch to face in the opposite direction.

Treatment :
Strap the claw to its normal position with adhesive tape, leave for 2 to 3 weeks.  Add yeast to the diet.

Osteomalacia
There is a painful softening of the bones, found in old parakeets and cockatoos and also in young pheasants.

Cause :
Deficiency of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D.

Signs :
The bones become soft and may break.  There is general debility and weakness.

Treatment :
Add calcium gluconate and vitamin D3 to the diets.  

Fractures
Mostly of the tibia, though any bone of the limbs can break.

Cause :
Injury or bone disease.

Signs :
The broken leg hangs in an unnatural position.  The deformity can be seen.  The bird cannot perch or grip.  Swelling at the site of breakage occurs.

Treatment :
1) Adjust the broken bone carefully and splint the leg with wooden or metal strip, held in   position with adhesive tape.
2) Plaster of Paris can be used by an expert.
3) Internal fixation with pins or wire is possible for large birds.

Rings
Tightening of ring as the bird grows can lead to scaly leg, gout or gangrene because of the constriction.  Remove tight rings by cutting with a nail cutter.  If the leg is very swollen so that the ring gets embedded in the leg, use an anesthetic and then remove the ring.  Be careful not to fracture the leg.


Respiratory System
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses (the hollow air spaces inside the skull bones), and can occur in any bird.

Causes :
1) Bacterial infection with staphylococci, aspergillus's, psittacosis and P. P. L. O.
2) Tumors in the sinuses.

Signs :
A (usually thick) discharge from the nostrils.

Treatment :
Use antibiotics, add to 2 oz. of drinking water, 1 teaspoon of 1% potassium iodide solution.  Surgical intervention is sometimes necessary.

The Wings
Fracture. Usually the radius and ulna get broken, though it can happen to any bone of the wing.

Signs :
Unnatural posture of the wing; usually the affected wing is dropped.  Swelling at the place of fracture is usually present, and the broken bone can be felt.  

Treatment :
1) Bring the broken wing to its normal position, with the fractured bone properly aligned, and hold it in place by strapping with adhesive tape. Wind the tape around the wing and the body, forward to the place of fracture, and another tape around the wing and body, behind the site of the fracture. Maintain the wing in this position for 2 to 3 weeks, adjusting the tapes if necessary.
2) Plaster of Paris can also be used to immobilize the fracture, but this should be done only by an expert.
3) Splints improvised from wood or metal strips are also used, but are difficult to keep in position.
4) A veterinary surgeon can insert stainless steel rods or wires called intra medullary pins, pierced through the marrow cavity of the broken bone. These pins may be removed later, or are sometimes permanently kept in place. This method is used only for large birds.

Bronchitis, Pneumonia
Cause :
1) The same infections, which cause sinusitis.
2) Draught, resulting in the bird getting a chill.

Signs :
The breathing is laboured, gasping or gaping sometimes accompanied by a high-pitched squealing when breathing. The wings may be kept away from the body. Conjunctivitis or sinusitis may also occur.

Treatment :
Keep the cage in warm air at 21 to 24 C (70-75 F). The bird should be made to inhale Friar's Balsam. Experts also use antibiotics and oxygen gas.

Paroxysmal Asthma (seen in parrots)
Cause :
Unknown, sometimes occurs along with chronic upper respiratory tract disease or aspergillosis.

Signs :
Breathing is laboured, with harsh wheezing.  The bird may keep its mouth open and ruffle its feathers for upto an hour.  An attack may recur after a break of a few months.

Treatment :
Oxygen gas helps, give the bird one drop of a 1:1000 solution of adrenaline in a teaspoonful of water.  Long term treatment consists of 2½ grains EACH of potassium iodide and potassium bromide in every 20 oz. drinking water, every day or every other day.

C. R. D. (Chronic Respiratory Disease)
Occurs in guinea foul, pigeons, partridges and pheasants.

Cause :
Infection by P. P. L. O. (a micro-organism)

Signs :
There is sniffing and a nasal discharge, along with swelling of the face.  The bird feels depressed, loses appetite and gets emaciated.

Treatment :
Improve ventilation and use antibiotics or furazolidone.

Gastro-Intestinal System
Crop Necrosis:
Also called Sour Crop, it is found in budgerigars and occasionally in the java sparrow and parrot group.

Causes :
May be due to contaminated food, infection or metal chips from the cage.

Signs :
Vomiting of mucus (slime); this causes contamination. The feathers around the head are matted, there is increased thirst and diarrhea.

Treatment :
Increase the temperature around the cage to 21 to 24C (70-75 F) Treat with chloramphenicol or oxytetracycline to control secondary infections.

Impaction of the crop.
Causes :
1) Debility.
2) Lack of tone of the muscles of the crop wall, i.e. these muscles do not relax.
3) Tumours of the crop.
4) Foreign bodies in the crop (in parrots).
5) The bird swallows too much grit after a period of deprivation.

Signs :
A fluctuating swelling may be noticed in the crop, because it is full of seeds, grit or gas. Sometimes the crop gets displaced from its usual position. The bird tries to regurgitate (throw out its food).  In small birds, seeds can be seen through the skin and crop.

Treatment :
Hold the bird upside down and massage the crop towards the mouth to empty it. (This method is risky for small birds). Many a time, surgical intervention is necessary. This should be followed by a soft diet with vitamin supplements.  

Injury to the Crop
This happens with parrots where the crop and skin get torn as a result of ingesting sharp material.

Signs :
Seeds and mucus (slime) come out from the wounded crop.

Constipation
The technical term for this is Impaction of the intestinal tract; it too can occur in any bird.

Causes :
1) Too much fibrous matter in the food.
2) Debility.
3) Pressure due to an egg which is not voided.
4) Abdominal tumours.

Signs :
The bird strains while voiding the bowels, and ejects hard, scanty droppings.  The feathers around the vent get matted.

Treatment :
Give a few drops of liquid paraffin by mouth as a laxative. An enema of soapy water can also be given using a medicine dropper. Increase greens in the diet and add vitamin B complex supplement.

Reproductive System
Egg binding:
The egg is retained inside the cloaca. Treat urgently especially small passerines, otherwise death will occur.

Causes :
1) Weakness of muscles of the oviduct.
2) Soft shelled eggs.
3) Obesity (i.e. the bird is fat)
4) Fatigue caused by excessive egg laying.
5) Sudden change in temperature.

Signs :
The bird appears distressed and unsteady on the perch or ground. It strains and waves its tail. The abdomen in the region of the vent is distended, shown as a dome-like swelling over the egg.

Treatment :
Maintain the cage at 32 C (90 F) for 2 to 3 hours. If the egg is not voided, lubricate the passage. Removing the egg is risky, and surgical intervention may have to be resorted to.

S.R. Sane
the Chairman, of SANJEEVAN (Association)
is a qualified Zoologist and experience of over 50 years of
Keeping & Breeding birds, reptiles & amphibians.

It is only in the last few decades that a lot of veterinary research in the cage and aviary bird's treatment has been taking place in the affluent countries. This has been due to the fast increase in the bird keeping hobbies and captive breeding programs. In India, due to the low volume of this hobby of bird keeping as well as insignificant captive breeding programs, there is hardly any significant veterinary research in the cage/wild bird subject. We still are four or five decades behind the affluent countries though we have a lot of information available on the internet. Normally vet. graduates are not interested in specialising in this field. They cannot see possibilities of private practice in cage birds.


Now if you have a collection of a few birds then you cannot buy a thermostatically controlled hospital cage to keep an ailing bird. So you have to fabricate a cage which will serve the purpose of a hospital cage. You have to take a box cage and fit it with a electric bulb in the back corner of the cage. Depending on the room temperature, adjust the wattage of the bulb so that the temperature is between 35 C and 37 C (i.e. 95 F and 99 F). If you feel any of your birds is dull or sulky, then first put it in this cage and observe it for symptoms like loose motions/stools, breathlessness etc. prior to further treatment. If no symptoms are noticeable then wait for a period of 24hrs. Normally, if the bird is suffering from a minor ailment then it will start moving away from the bulb. Otherwise it will start showing some clear symptoms and treatment can be started accordingly. In 50 to 60% cases the birds revive without any further treatment.

Many a time, an infectious disease may strike birds, but symptoms of the disease can be vague, and the disease can be determined definitely only after the bird dies and a post-mortem examination is carried out on it, often requiring a skilled person with laboratory facilities.  An early diagnosis of the disease becomes important when an infection strikes a large number of birds and large-scale preventive / curative medication becomes necessary. In cases of large-scale (or flock medication, as it is called), antibiotics and chemo-therapy has to be resorted.  Many a time such medicines and drugs can be purchased only through a prescription given by a doctor or a veterinarian.  The medicine can be given to the bird in powder form or as a liquid, mixed with its seed diet, or it may have to be injected.  The powder has to be soluble in water if it is to be given as a drink, often the sick bird loses its appetite or goes off drinking water.  If given as a powder, it is difficult to give the full dose, Liquid medicine can be mixed in the drinking water, it is ideal for flock medication or in prevention of infection.

Liquid medicine can be given orally (i.e.. by mouth), but this may require catching the bird and using a dropper with its tip into the bird's open beak.  For a greater quantity of liquid medicine, one can resort to using a flexible polyethylene tube deep into the bird's mouth and extending to its crop.  This also ensures giving it an accurate dose, as none of the liquid medicine will spill out of the beak.  But this method should be learnt by observing a professional, so as not to injure the bird.  Injections are again best given by a veterinarian; often a micro-syringe has to be used, as the dosage of medicine may be quite small.  Such injections are usually given intra-muscularly, mostly in the pectoral (chest) muscles or thigh, as these muscles are large and easy to locate.


THE BEAK

The usual cause for concern is overgrown and/or deformed beaks.This can happen in all birds, but is most common in parrots and parakeets.

Causes
1) Hereditary (Congenital)
2) Dirty nests (faulty nest hygiene), along with any hard debris impacting on the hard palate. This in turn, causes undue pressure which then leads to malformation of the beak
3) Wrong diet.  This can cause rickets.  Deficiency of vitamin B, Folic acid and biotin leads to thinness of keratin (horn)
4) Little use of the beak by the bird. This is commonly associated with life in the cage or aviary.
5) Injury leading to fracture and loss of the upper beak.  This happens mostly to parrots and parakeets.
6) Parasites resulting in “Scaly face”. Commonest in budgerigars, but also found in parrots, finches and other birds.
7) Chronic infection of the sinuses (sinusitis), tuberculosis, granuloma of the cere, aspergillosis of the mouth.
8) Tumor of the beak, facial or cranial (skull) bones.
9) Nervousness, leading to gnawing the wires of the cage.  Happens mostly in parrots and parakeets.
10) Old age (Senility) or weakness (debility)    

TREATMENT
This will depend on the cause.
It may sound cruel, but it is best to get rid of congenital (hereditary) cases.
Where malnutrition is the cause, increase the amount of vitamins and calcium in the diet.
Parasites. The treatment will depend on which parasite is the causative.
Scaly face could be generally cured with the application of liquid paraffin or other edible oils.
For granulomate, surgery in the form of cautery (burning) or with caustic is usually done.  In sinusitis, curetting (draining) the local lesions is resorted to.
In all cases of overgrown and deformed beaks, the beak requires continued reshaping with scissors, nail cutters or fine files, care should be taken, when doing this, not to cut the blood vessels in the beak.

The cere and Nares
Hyperkeratinisation of the cere.  Too much of keratin (horn) forms on the cere.  It is often seen in budgerigars and parakeets.

Cause
It may be due to ill-health, old age (senility) or weakness (debility)

Treatment
Carefully trim the excess of keratin with a knife, then apply cod-liver oil, shark liver oil or any oily vitamin  A  preparation.

Blockage of the nares
The nostrils get blocked by a discharge, the appearance of which varies depending on the cause.

Causes
1) Hyperkeratinisation (over formation of horn)
2) Sinusitis
3) Disease of the respiratory tract (breathing system, such as lungs, bronchi, etc.)

Treatment
Clean the nares with saline (salt solution) or with a mild antiseptic.  Remove excess keratin (horn) and exudates (discharges) control infection with antibiotic or 1% sulphadimidine solution.

Skin and Feathers
Soft and delayed moult  usually found in more domesticated birds.

1) Fluctuations of temperature.
2) Faulty diet
3) Absence of bathing opportunity

Symptoms
The bird moults continuously and the feathers are ruffled.  This is followed by debility.

Treatment
The problem arising from incorrect management and feeding, can be corrected by adding linseed and green food to the diet.

Feather Plucking
Birds continuously peck each other and damage the feathers.  Found mainly in canaries and small finches .

Causes
1) Overcrowding.
2) Lack of bathing facility, lack of hygiene.
3) Ecto (external) parasites.
4) Inherent bad habit.

Treatment
The bully should be separated from other birds, and faulty management should be rectified.  Clean and disinfect cages, and provide bathing facilities.  Give treatment for removal of ectoparasites.  If young in a nest are pecked, remove them to a nest outside the cage, but in such a position that the parents can feed them from inside but without directly mixing.

Self-feather Plucking
Occurs in canaries, finches and parakeets and tame big parrots.

Causes
1) After moulting.
2) Infection by feather  mites
3) Bad habit due to boredom.
4) Psychological (a nervous habit)

Symptoms
Scratching, feather-plucking and heavy  moulting.

Treatment
1) Remove the bully, or give larger space.
2) Improve and vary the diet.  Kill ectoparasites.

Frilled  Feathers
This occurs normally in some kinds of canaries (like the Dutch frill ) and sometimes in bullfinch. Probably hereditary; sometimes it stops after moulting.

Cyanism
The normal Rose-ringed or other parakeets like Amazon parakeets which normally have a green ground-colour, instead have a bluish shade. This is due to wrong feeding. But it could be hereditary mutation.

Xanthochroism
Yellow pigment spots arise in the feathers, So that, in the Rose finch , the scarlet colouration changes to Yellow/orange after moulting.  It may be due to inadequate seed, minerals or insects in the diet. It could be a hereditary mutation also.

Melanism
Black feathers appear among the coloured feathers, as in old Munias.  It may be due to thyroid deficiency; or deficiency in food .
I do not know of any hereditary mutations.

Tumours of the skin
These may be benign or malignant (cancerous) and occur more in highly domesticated birds like canaries. Many of these are just dermal cysts.

Uropygitis (Impaction of the preen gland)
The Preen gland gets filled with a hard substance of the consistency of cheese.

Treatment
Massage the gland and gently squeeze out the matter, then apply antibiotic ointment.  Tumors of the preen gland have to be removed surgically.

Eyes
Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the surface of the eyeball)

Keratitis (Inflammation of the cornea) Both of these are sometimes found together.

Causes
1) Injury
2) Foreign bodies on the eye, or a membrane around the eye.
3) Infection, Common in parakeets as infections.

Kerato Conjunctivitis. These are highly infections and may be caused by a virus.

Signs
In simple conjunctivitis, the conjunctiva is red and the eye is partly closed.  In keratitis, the cornea is opaque or inflamed.  There is also a discharge from the eye; this may be watery or pus-like (purulent).  Irritation causes the bird to rub its eye on the perch or scratch it.  Usually both eyes are affected.

Treatment
Clean the eye gently with saline, taking care not to damage it further.  If there is a foreign body in the eye, bathe the eye, then apply antibiotic (drops or ointment) such as chlortetracycline (aureomycin) or chloramphenicol (chloromycetin). Panophthalmitis (Inflammation inside the eyeball):  This is often a result of kerato  conjunctivitis, especially if there is a penetrating wound in the eye.

PANOPHTHALMITIS

Signs
Same as for eye inflammation, but there is more pain, the eye is opaque and the discharge is always purulent (not watery)

Treatment
As above, but also administer antibiotics orally (by mouth) or by injection.  Sometimes, removal of the eye ball may be necessary, otherwise septicaemia or meningitis may set in and kill the bird.

Coryza (Eye  Cold)
It is also, known as 'One-eyed roup' or 'ophthalimia' and occurs in pigeons.  It is a form of conjunctivitis.

Cause
It may be due to a deficiency of vitamin A or an infection.  It usually affects birds less than a year old, and is thought to be contagious.  Birds which are cured do not seem to get it again.

Signs
The tissues around the eye are swollen, and there is a watery discharge (usually from one eye only) Irritation causes rubbing of eyes on the shoulder .

Treatment
Same as for conjunctivitis.  Improve cleanliness, and give sufficient vitamin A.

Cataract
The lens in the eye is partly or wholly opaque.  

Cause
Can be due to old age, as in parrots, or hereditary as in some canaries (especially the Norwich and crested canaries). Vitamin A deficiency or a penetrating wound on the cornea can also cause this.

Signs
Usually (but not always), both eyes have the cataract.  The lens is an opaque blue, grey or white in the area of the pupil.  Due to failing eye sight, behavior may change.

Treatment
High dose of vitamin A will only delay the speed of opacity.

Scaly legs
Also called “tassle-foot” and seen in canaries, it is due to parasites.  See the relevant section for treatment.

Dry Gangrene
Also seen in canaries, it may be contagious.

Signs :
The toes (digits) and ankle (metatarsals) appear purple and later, black.  The area feels cold when touched.  The lower part of the leg may finally fall off.

Treatment :
Cleanliness of the cage is essential.  Clean the cage thoroughly and disinfect it.  Also clean the affected part with a mild disinfectant, and apply chloramphenicol (chloromycetin) tincture.  

Gangrene
This results in death of the tissues.  It is caused by failure of blood supply by the arteries, usually to the lower part of the leg, and can happen to any bird.

Causes :
1) Severe fracture in the leg; this interferes with the blood supply.
2) Constriction (squeezing) due to tight ring on the leg.
3)Twining of fibres / hair, etc. around the leg (mostly in nesting birds)
4) Faulty diet.
5) Frost bite (in severe winter in the north)

Signs :
Swollen, stiff toes that finally fall off.  In the early stages the bird continuously shifts position due to pain, and keeps the affected foot off the perch.

Treatment :
You must remove the cause of the constriction, give adequate diet if no cause is visible.  Local application of cod liver oil or shark liver oil helps in early cases. If sloughing begins, apply antibiotic dressings.

Digital Dermatitis
Also called 'sore feet', it is an inflammation of the toes.  Usually in soft bills and canaries.

Causes :
1) Too much perching and too little exercise.
2) Dirty perch, as the bird wipes its bill on the perch, leaving bits of  fruits and nectar on it.
3) Bacterial infection by streptococcus and staphylococcus.

Signs :
Inflamed and swollen toes, especially at the base of the claws.  The bird cannot grip the perch properly due to pain, and constantly shifts its position.  Abscesses and ulcers may form on the underside of the feet.

Treatment :
Proper management, more exercise and clean perches.  Use fomentation of hot saline.  Lance any abscess.  Apply iodine oil locally. Add vitamin supplements to the diet.  In serious cases, apply antibiotic locally, or give this orally (by mouth) or by injection.

Bumblefoot
Common in ducks, pigeons and pheasants.

Signs :
The bird becomes lame; later there is a swelling on the soft pars of the underside of the foot, which may be hot and painful.

Treatment :
Lance the abscess, clean with antiseptic solution and apply antibiotic dressing.  Also give antibiotic or sulphathiazole orally.

Tumours
Osteosarcoma is a malignant tumor of the bones of the leg.  Papilloma is a wart or skin tumor on the feet of chaffinches.  Usually only one foot is affected, surgery can be done.

Arthritis
It is an inflammation of the joints.

Cause :
Many bacteria, such as streptococci, staphylococci, micrococci, tuberculosis or aspergillosis are involved.

Signs :
Enlarged joints  usually the tarsal joint.  Later and in severe cases a mixed discharge of blood and pus oozes from the joint.

Treatment :
Apply antibiotic locally and internally.  A bacterial identification may be necessary for selecting the proper antibiotic.

Gout
Most common in budgerigars, parakeets and canaries.

Cause :
It is chronic and is due to the deposition of ureates (salts) below the skin around the joints  mainly the tarso-metatorsal joint, wing joints and cervical (neck) vertebrae (backbone). It is a result of nephritis (a kidney malfunction).

Signs :
Restlessness, lifting one foot in turns so as to shift the body weight.  Joints are swollen, with a white deposit under the skin at the joint.

Treatment :
There is no remedy.

Crooked Toe Disease
Occurs in pheasants, partridges and quails.

Causes :
1) Cramped aviary or cage.
2) Vitamin / Mineral deficiency.
3) Wrong incubation of eggs at an unduly high temperature.

Signs :
The malformation is manifest as early as a few days after hatching to six weeks age.  One or more toes are bent sideways at the joint.

Treatment :  
Give more phosphates and minerals.  Improve general management.

Curly Toe Disease
It is also known as Nutritional paralysis or curled toe paralysis, and is found in poultry chickens as well as pheasants, partridges and quails.

Cause :
Deficiency of riboflavin (vitamin B2)

Signs :
The toes in both feet are curled under the feet, so that the chick cannot stand but sinks down on its hocks.  Appears at 3 to 5 weeks after hatching, and growth is arrested.  There is high mortality unless immediately treated.

Treatment :
Giving yeast immediately halts the paralysis.  But it is best to prevent it by giving dried yeast, dry skimmed milk and synthetic vitamin B2 in the diet.

Rickets
Cause :
Deficiency of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D.

Signs :
Twisting and (sometimes) shortening of the legs.  The bird cannot support its weight or fly.  The general condition and that of the feathers is poor.

Treatment :
Give fish meal, bone meal, milk and vitamin D3.  But very badly affected birds may have to be destroyed.

Slipped Hock Disease
Occurs in ducks and pheasants.

Cause :
Deficiency of manganese or vitamin B complex, or too much calcium or phosphorus in the diet.

Signs :
The Achilles tendon (situated at the back of the hock) shifts to one side, so that the bird squats.

Treatment :
If noticed early, proper diet may alleviate the condition.  Mechanical support with Elastoplast helps.  There is no treatment for advanced cases.  

Stiff  Claw
Also known as Slipped Claw disease, it occurs in budgerigars and canaries.

Cause :
Injury or vitamin B deficiency causes paralysis of the bird claw.

Signs :
Due to paralysis of the bird claw, the bird cannot grip the perch, and comes forward over the perch to face in the opposite direction.

Treatment :
Strap the claw to its normal position with adhesive tape, leave for 2 to 3 weeks.  Add yeast to the diet.

Osteomalacia
There is a painful softening of the bones, found in old parakeets and cockatoos and also in young pheasants.

Cause :
Deficiency of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D.

Signs :
The bones become soft and may break.  There is general debility and weakness.

Treatment :
Add calcium gluconate and vitamin D3 to the diets.  

Fractures
Mostly of the tibia, though any bone of the limbs can break.

Cause :
Injury or bone disease.

Signs :
The broken leg hangs in an unnatural position.  The deformity can be seen.  The bird cannot perch or grip.  Swelling at the site of breakage occurs.

Treatment :
1) Adjust the broken bone carefully and splint the leg with wooden or metal strip, held in   position with adhesive tape.
2) Plaster of Paris can be used by an expert.
3) Internal fixation with pins or wire is possible for large birds.

Rings
Tightening of ring as the bird grows can lead to scaly leg, gout or gangrene because of the constriction.  Remove tight rings by cutting with a nail cutter.  If the leg is very swollen so that the ring gets embedded in the leg, use an anesthetic and then remove the ring.  Be careful not to fracture the leg.


Respiratory System
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses (the hollow air spaces inside the skull bones), and can occur in any bird.

Causes :
1) Bacterial infection with staphylococci, aspergillus's, psittacosis and P. P. L. O.
2) Tumors in the sinuses.

Signs :
A (usually thick) discharge from the nostrils.

Treatment :
Use antibiotics, add to 2 oz. of drinking water, 1 teaspoon of 1% potassium iodide solution.  Surgical intervention is sometimes necessary.

The Wings
Fracture. Usually the radius and ulna get broken, though it can happen to any bone of the wing.

Signs :
Unnatural posture of the wing; usually the affected wing is dropped.  Swelling at the place of fracture is usually present, and the broken bone can be felt.  

Treatment :
1) Bring the broken wing to its normal position, with the fractured bone properly aligned, and hold it in place by strapping with adhesive tape. Wind the tape around the wing and the body, forward to the place of fracture, and another tape around the wing and body, behind the site of the fracture. Maintain the wing in this position for 2 to 3 weeks, adjusting the tapes if necessary.
2) Plaster of Paris can also be used to immobilize the fracture, but this should be done only by an expert.
3) Splints improvised from wood or metal strips are also used, but are difficult to keep in position.
4) A veterinary surgeon can insert stainless steel rods or wires called intra medullary pins, pierced through the marrow cavity of the broken bone. These pins may be removed later, or are sometimes permanently kept in place. This method is used only for large birds.

Bronchitis, Pneumonia
Cause :
1) The same infections, which cause sinusitis.
2) Draught, resulting in the bird getting a chill.

Signs :
The breathing is laboured, gasping or gaping sometimes accompanied by a high-pitched squealing when breathing. The wings may be kept away from the body. Conjunctivitis or sinusitis may also occur.

Treatment :
Keep the cage in warm air at 21 to 24 C (70-75 F). The bird should be made to inhale Friar's Balsam. Experts also use antibiotics and oxygen gas.

Paroxysmal Asthma (seen in parrots)
Cause :
Unknown, sometimes occurs along with chronic upper respiratory tract disease or aspergillosis.

Signs :
Breathing is laboured, with harsh wheezing.  The bird may keep its mouth open and ruffle its feathers for upto an hour.  An attack may recur after a break of a few months.

Treatment :
Oxygen gas helps, give the bird one drop of a 1:1000 solution of adrenaline in a teaspoonful of water.  Long term treatment consists of 2½ grains EACH of potassium iodide and potassium bromide in every 20 oz. drinking water, every day or every other day.

C. R. D. (Chronic Respiratory Disease)
Occurs in guinea foul, pigeons, partridges and pheasants.

Cause :
Infection by P. P. L. O. (a micro-organism)

Signs :
There is sniffing and a nasal discharge, along with swelling of the face.  The bird feels depressed, loses appetite and gets emaciated.

Treatment :
Improve ventilation and use antibiotics or furazolidone.

Gastro-Intestinal System
Crop Necrosis:
Also called Sour Crop, it is found in budgerigars and occasionally in the java sparrow and parrot group.

Causes :
May be due to contaminated food, infection or metal chips from the cage.

Signs :
Vomiting of mucus (slime); this causes contamination. The feathers around the head are matted, there is increased thirst and diarrhea.

Treatment :
Increase the temperature around the cage to 21 to 24C (70-75 F) Treat with chloramphenicol or oxytetracycline to control secondary infections.

Impaction of the crop.
Causes :
1) Debility.
2) Lack of tone of the muscles of the crop wall, i.e. these muscles do not relax.
3) Tumours of the crop.
4) Foreign bodies in the crop (in parrots).
5) The bird swallows too much grit after a period of deprivation.

Signs :
A fluctuating swelling may be noticed in the crop, because it is full of seeds, grit or gas. Sometimes the crop gets displaced from its usual position. The bird tries to regurgitate (throw out its food).  In small birds, seeds can be seen through the skin and crop.

Treatment :
Hold the bird upside down and massage the crop towards the mouth to empty it. (This method is risky for small birds). Many a time, surgical intervention is necessary. This should be followed by a soft diet with vitamin supplements.  

Injury to the Crop
This happens with parrots where the crop and skin get torn as a result of ingesting sharp material.

Signs :
Seeds and mucus (slime) come out from the wounded crop.

Constipation
The technical term for this is Impaction of the intestinal tract; it too can occur in any bird.

Causes :
1) Too much fibrous matter in the food.
2) Debility.
3) Pressure due to an egg which is not voided.
4) Abdominal tumours.

Signs :
The bird strains while voiding the bowels, and ejects hard, scanty droppings.  The feathers around the vent get matted.

Treatment :
Give a few drops of liquid paraffin by mouth as a laxative. An enema of soapy water can also be given using a medicine dropper. Increase greens in the diet and add vitamin B complex supplement.

Reproductive System
Egg binding:
The egg is retained inside the cloaca. Treat urgently especially small passerines, otherwise death will occur.

Causes :
1) Weakness of muscles of the oviduct.
2) Soft shelled eggs.
3) Obesity (i.e. the bird is fat)
4) Fatigue caused by excessive egg laying.
5) Sudden change in temperature.

Signs :
The bird appears distressed and unsteady on the perch or ground. It strains and waves its tail. The abdomen in the region of the vent is distended, shown as a dome-like swelling over the egg.

Treatment :
Maintain the cage at 32 C (90 F) for 2 to 3 hours. If the egg is not voided, lubricate the passage. Removing the egg is risky, and surgical intervention may have to be resorted to.