When a bird is in shock, its body is not getting the blood it needs to function properly. This can lead to a number of symptoms, including weakness, disorientation, and even collapse. If you think your bird may be in shock, it's important to act quickly and get it to an avian veterinarian. In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of shock in birds, as well as what you can do to help your bird until you can get it to a vet.
What can cause a bird to go into shock?
Birds may be in shock for a variety of reasons, including collision injuries, trauma, sickness, and other factors.
The following are some of the most prevalent causes of a bird in shock:
Blood Loss that can occur from a cut, scrape, broken blood feather, or bite wound
Severe Injury such as colliding with windows, mirrors or walls, or broken bones, beak, etc.
Extreme Temperature Fluctuations that can cause dehydration or hypothermia
Fear or Trauma can be a factor if your bird is startled
Poisoning from various metals, paints, or fumes
Prolonged Starvation or Malnutrition
Electrocution by outlets, cords or cables
Egg Binding that can occur in female parrots
Viral or Bacterial Illness
While a bird going into shock can be terrifying for the owner, it is best to remain calm and focus on quick action to ensure the survival of your companion. But, how can you tell your bird is in shock? Parrots tend to hide illness until they are at a critical stage due to being prey creatures. In the wild if you show signs of weakness, you are more likely to be targeted by predators. This natural instinct to hide their injuries can mask the extent of the damage, so it's important to take action when you notice any symptoms.
What are the most common bird in shock symptoms?
Lethargy: the bird will be very inactive and may move slowly or not at all.
Puffed-up feathers: if you see that your bird's feathers are sticking up, this is a sign that they are feeling very unwell.
Disoriented: if the bird is unable to stand or walk, and is circling around aimlessly, it may be in shock.
Shallow breathing: if you notice that your bird is breathing rapidly and shallowly, this could be a sign of shock.
Lack of Alertness: If your bird is unable to respond to you and has swollen or squinted eyes, they may be in shock.
Weakness: If your bird is unable to make any effort to move when being picked up and showing signs of being limp or inability to grip, this is a sign of shock.
Visual Injury: If you are able to see blood or a broken wing, beak or limb, then your bird is likely to be in shock.
Wing Drooping: If the bird has its wings let down loosely next to the body, this is a symptom of being very ill.
Archer flew full force into the wall and gave himself a birdy black eye. He presented with disorientation as he had been stunned from the impact and had swelling of the eye and puffed-up feathers. He was immediately taken to an emergency avian vet for treatment and made a speedy recovery.
My bird is in shock, what do I do?
First go to your bird first-aid kit and find your emergency avian vet contact. Try to get an appointment set up as quickly as possible. When your bird goes into shock, the situation could change at any moment so urgency is key. There are a few ways to manage the recovery at home and stabilize your parrot until you are able to get to an emergency hospital.
Shock Stabilization List:
Place the bird in a quiet, dark place such as a "hospital cage" or a dark room to reduce energy expenditure. Keep in mind your bird may be unable to perch, so it's important to keep them on a solid surface with no risk of further injury.
Keep the bird warm. You can place a warm water bottle wrapped in a towel next to the bird. Make sure the bird isnt overheating. DO NOT apply heat if the shock was caused by head trauma.
Don't force your bird to drink food or water while they are in shock. However you can try to provide a small amount of Chili Powder Paste (water mixed with chili powder) or Bach's Rescue Remedy (must be diluted for parrots) as they have been shown to help with shock recovery.
Keep your bird safe and isolated from other pets in the home while they are displaying symptoms of shock, as well as limit handling to reduce stress.
If the bird is visibly injured or bleeding*, seek veterinary help immediately and do not delay transport to a medical center.
*Note: It is recommended that you do not use Kwik-Stop if you are attempting to stop bleeding as it is toxic to parrots if ingested. A good alternative is cornstarch or flour to assist with clotting.
Once a bird begins displaying the signs of shock, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to recover. If the shock is deemed severe by an avian veterinarian, it could last for days, and your bird would need to be under medical care to maintain hydration, body temperature, and get the necessary treatment for recovery.
While the outlook may seem grim for a bird in shock, the best thing you can do for your parrot is to be educated on how to recognize the bird in shock symptoms and handle the situation. Any information provided in this article is not meant to replace the treatment from a certified avian veterinarian. Please use this information only for educational purposes if faced with an unexpected situation.
Have you had a bird go into shock before? What symptoms did you notice? No parrot owner's experience is the same and we could be missing your valuable feedback. Please let us know in the comments.