Bird Medication

Bird Medication

Medicating birds is challenging. Just like all pets, giving your bird medication can be extremely difficult. Working together with your veterinarian and possibly a compounding pharmacy, medicating your pet bird can also be successful.

Bird medication can be administered in several ways. It is important to discuss with your vet which way will be most beneficial to your unique bird. It is also important to be clear on the time, frequency and dosing of your bird’s medication. Your veterinarian may suggest that you mix the medication into food or water. This is the easiest method of administering bird medication, however, it can be difficult to ensure that your bird is getting the correct dosage. The medication may also change the taste, color or consistency of the food or water and therefore may result in your bird refusing to eat or drink all together. Dehydration is dangerous in a healthy bird, and can be fatal in a bird already dealing with another illness or injury.

The most accurate way to administer medication is orally, but definitely not the easiest. If this is the route that you and your veterinarian have decided to go with, it would be in your best interest to try and offer the medication directly to you bird, before attempting to restrain him/her. Many compounding pharmacies are able to flavor medication for palatability. With the help of flavored suspension some birds even enjoy medication time!

If your bird is not one that appreciates medication time, make sure that you set yourself up for success. Ensure that the medication is ready and that you have a quiet, comfortable spot in which to work. Some oral suspensions may require refrigeration, which can be offensive to some birds. Try drawing up the medication into the syringe and leave it out for 10-20 minutes before administration. Once the medication is ready, collect your bird and restrain them gently. Remember a bird’s chest needs to rise and fall in order to breathe. Do not hold too tightly. 

One method of restraint suggests that you put the palm of your hand on the side of the bird, closest to you, with your fingers wrapped around the bird’s back. Place your thumb on the side of the bird’s face (at the side of the beak or cheek). The tip of your index finger can be placed under the bird’s jaw or above the bird’s chest. A towel may also be used in this method (but be careful to watch for signs of overheating).

Once restrained, place the syringe at one side of the bird’s beak and point the syringe toward the opposite side of the bird’s throat. Apply a gentle, even pressure to slowly squeeze the medication into your bird’s mouth. If your bird is actively swallowing the medication, continue with this even pressure, until the medication is gone. If your bird is not drinking the medication, stop squeezing and allow your bird to swallow little by little. 

After you have administered the medication, take time to clean up your bird with a soft, damp cloth. Now is a great time to offer your bird a treat, which may alleviate some of the resulting fear and stress. This can also help make future attempts at medication administration go smoother. And most importantly, spend time with your bird. Remember as stressful as it is to administer medication, it is worse on your bird, especially because they weren’t feeling well to start!

Keep at it. Your bird’s health depends on it. Accurately administering medication will help get your feathery companion feeling better soon! And if you continue to struggle, ask your veterinarian for help.



This article was compiled in part with information from: