Help! My Bird Is Bleeding

The three most common sources of bleeding with pet birds is a broken blood feather, a torn toenail or a chipped beak. Owners are always terrified when they see their pet bird bleeding. The first and most important thing to do is remain calm. Our pets sense our anxiety and will bleed more because their blood pressure becomes elevated. Therefore, we need to calmly examine the bird and determine the source of blood.
Nails and beaks occasionally will be torn or chipped. Apply clotting powder or household flour to the area. Then apply pressure for 2-3 minutes. The beak will sometimes have a separation between the layers. This is best treated by firmly pushing the flour or clot powder in between the layers. If the bleeding continues, apply firm pressure to the area for 5 minutes.

Blood feathers are immature feathers that contain a network of blood vessels. We prefer that owners first try filling the broken shaft with clotting powder or flour. If the feather continues to bleed, the owner can grasp the base of the feather and pull it out. They then need to be sure to pinch the follicle (the collar of skin that held the feather) for a full 3-5 minutes. If the shaft of the feather is broken at the follicle or inside the follicle, apply clotting powder or flour and pressure.

Skin lacerations or cuts should be treated slightly differently. Do not apply clotting powder or flour to a cut in the skin. Clean the wound with a small amount of hydrogen peroxide and apply pressure for 3-5 minutes. If the laceration is less that ¼ inch, the wound can be cleaned twice a day with hydrogen peroxide until healed. If the laceration is greater than ¼ inch, this should be checked by your veterinarian to see if sutures are required. Do not apply neosporin or any other type of ointment to the skin of a bird. Ointments spread rapidly across the feathers. Ointment coated feathers quickly loose their insulating ability. This can lead to chilled stressed bird.

In any situation in which bleeding can not be controlled, contact your veterinarian. On the trip to the veterinarian, someone should maintain pressure to the bleeding area. The majority of birds will clot within 5 minutes with pressure applied to the area. Occasionally, a bird will have a problem forming a clot. These birds definitely should be seen by a veterinarian to determine the source of the bleeding disorder.

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