How To Give Your Pet Bird Medications

Unlike humans, birds cannot take pills. When they get sick, the only way to give them medicine is through a syringe. Prior to actually needing medication, it is important that we condition our birds to be unafraid of syringes.

Learn from our Avian Expert, Dr. Laurie Hess, as she gives a demonstration on how she makes their birds at the animal hospital comfortable with syringes.

Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Dr. Laurie Hess, and today, I’m going to talk to you about medicating your pet bird. A lot of times, we don’t think that our birds might need medication someday, just like we need medicine sometimes. And unlike us, we can’t give our birds pills so we have to learn to teach them that getting a syringe full of liquid because we make medications into liquids when we give it to birds. Whether it’s an antibiotic or another kind of medication, we have to compound those medications from pills into a liquid. Veterinarians commonly do this and I do this all day long. But it’s very easy for me to say, OK, just go home and give your bird this medicine when the bird has never, ever seen a liquid in a syringe before and it can often be really afraid of a syringe.

So the best thing you can do is before you have to give your bird medications, teach the bird to be used to looking at the syringe, getting a syringe, and that way, it’s not a big deal.

So how do we do this? Well, we start by getting our favorite animal to cooperate with us on her perch. Good girl. Okay. And we start by taking a syringe and we just touch it to her beak and then we give her a little treat. She likes French fries. She’s dropping them today. She’s pretty excited here. But then we just get her to touch. She’s too interested in this. So we touch and we just do this a whole bunch of times and that way, it’s not scary and she’s not running away from the syringe. And I filled the syringe with a little bit of sugar water. So, I just do this and I give her a little bit of sugar water, see if she likes it. I don’t think she like that, but you can try it with a little bit of juice or anything that your bird would like to taste at home. I should probably put French fries in here. She’d be very happy.

But again, so the whole idea is to take the syringe and give your bird something that he or she loves. Initially, just touch the beak. Let them see it. Let them understand that when they see the syringe, it’s paired with a favorite treat. So you show them the syringe and then you give them a little piece of whatever they love, and then you touch it to their beak and you give them a piece of whatever they love, and then eventually, you can fill it with a little fruit juice or something that they really like and give them a little drug.

And that way, when it comes time to actually having to fill it with medication, hopefully, we can flavor that medication into a flavor that your bird likes, it’s not a big deal. They’re seeing the syringe and they’re not freaking out from it. And then if you just practice this for a few minutes everyday, you know, every week, the bird, hopefully, she gets used to it. She’s looking for the syringe right now. There you go. Then everything can work out great and then, if you have to give your bird medicine, you’re all set.

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