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Diseases / conditions causing bleeding:
- Blood in Droppings: Internal Bleeding (low in the digestive track), Lead Poisoning, Kidney Disease
- Conure Bleeding Syndrome (CBS) - specific to Conures
- Egg binding (in adult females only)
- Fat or Fatty Tumors
- French Molt (occurs mostly in budgerigars, but also reported in young lovebirds and other parrot species. Characterized by bruising, bleeding and sudden death in chicks.)
- Suspected Injury
- Liver Disease - Bleeding clotting problems may occur. A small injury may result in prolonged, life-threatening bleeding
In most cases it is a flight / wing feather or a tail feather, or a broken toenail. Sometimes bleeding can be a result of a broken beak.
Visually identify* where the blood is coming from, wiping the general area with hydrogen peroxide to remove the blood.
*While checking the bird for injuries, be prepared to immediately release it, should the bird show any signs of stress (drooping head, eyes that start to close, etc.). Never grasp the chest in any way. Instead secure by gentle restraint of the head or neck. Birds lack a diaphragm and cannot breathe unless the chest is completely free to make its excursions.
If a toenail is broken or the beak tip is injured ...
Bleeding can be stopped by blotting and applying flour or corn starch, with gentle pressure for 5 minutes. If available, apply Gelfoam and cover with tissue glue. Keep an eye on your bird for a couple of hours to be sure bleeding does not resume. A vet needs to assess the extent of damage. If the tip of the beak has broken off due to trauma, there may be cracks higher up. Stabilization of the beak with an acrylic may be helpful. Beak injuries may be painful and a soft diet may need to be provided until the bird can eat normally.
Click here for information on nail clipping, including stopping bleeding on a nail that was cut too short.
Bleeding from the mouth and vents ...
... need to be considered serious emergencies. Keep your bird warm and quiet, and transport to the vet immediately.
Skin lacerations or cuts:
Do not apply clotting powder or flour to a cut in the skin. Cleanse the area gently with a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, Nolvasan, or Betadine, and apply pressure for 3-5 minutes. If the laceration is less that ¼ inch, the wound can be cleaned with hydrogen peroxide twice daily until healed. If the laceration is greater than ¼ inch, the wound may need to be sutured by a vet. Never apply first aid ointments - or any ointment - to any part of a bird without checking with an avian veterinarian. Most ointments will do irreparable damage to feathers, and many may have serious health effects as well.
If veterinary help is not immediately available and dehydration* is suspected, you may need to provide supportive care, including warmth and fluids using a small syringe to open the beak, giving a few drops of juice, water, or electrolyte solution. A helper, good illumination and magnification should be readily available. Have cotton swabs and tissues or gauze available.
*Dehydration: Birds suffering from dehydration may have crinkly skin around theirs eyes. Small, dry droppings are also a sign of dehydration.
Trip to the Vet:
On the trip to the veterinarian, someone should maintain pressure to the bleeding area. The majority of birds will clot within 5 minutes of pressure being applied to the area.
In an emergency, breeders are using "Super Glue" to close wounds as it is sterile and will close gaps quickly. Superglue was originally developed as an emergency wound dressing for use on the battlefield. This is something to be discussed with trained medical personnel, as I have heard some concerns that Super Glue may carry the risk of some toxicities. Some swear by it, others recommend against it ...
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