Caring for Sick Lovebirds
Is Your Lovebird Sick?
Lovebirds are prey birds, so it is in their instincts to hide illnesses. However, these signs give away the fact that your pet might be sick:
- Dull eyes
- Sitting (at the bottom of the cage, in one position over long periods of time).
- Sleeping with the head tucked under a wing for a long time.
- Aggressive or withdrawn behavior
- Labored breathing (discussed under "Respiratory Problems in Lovebirds")
- Continuously fluffed up feathers
- Tail bobbing (tail moving up and down)
- Difficulty flying
- Appetite loss
- Discharge from the nasal area
- Flaky beak
- Anxious or easily scared
My Lovebird, LuluClick thumbnail to view full-size
Respiratory Problems in Lovebirds
Respiratory problems are common in small birds. I had noticed the symptoms mentioned below in my lovebird, Lulu. There may be other symptoms as well. If you find these symptoms in your lovebird or any other unusual behavior, please take them to the vet immediately:
- Labored breathing (difficulty in breathing, accompanied by tail bobbing)
- Panting after flying/exercise
- Breathing with an open beak
- Sneezing while flying
- Puffed up feathers for a long time
- Fever (warm body and beak)
Lulu's Tail Bobbing While Breathing
Laboured Breathing in My Lovebird, Lulu
Steps to Care for Sick Lovebirds (at Home)
I live in an area where vets are not unavailable. Before taking Lulu to a vet and before even fully knowing she was sick, I decided to help her at home.
You CAN do the same.
- Keep your bird warm by covering their cage/putting a heating pad under it.
- Place the cage in a dark room so your pet can get rest.
- Avoid making a loud noise, which can disturb them.
- Make sure food and water are easily reachable.
- Monitor their feeding pattern.
- Clean their cage daily, which helps to remove bacteria.
- Let their cage be under sunlight (not direct) and fresh air for at least 10-15 minutes in a day.
- Crush a boiled chicken egg into tiny pieces and feed them. This ensures they receive a good bundle of calcium supply and other vital nutrients.
- Talk calmly to them. Tell them that they will get alright and say you love them (it helps). Our pets understand us and vice-versa.
Lulu's Condition Worsened . . .
I had hope that after taking many steps to ensure Lulu's safety, she would get better. But I was wrong . . . her labored breathing soon changed to open-mouthed breathing and was also accompanied by sneezing.
Sneezing in Lovebird Lulu
Taking Lulu to the Vet
I had gone nuts. Lulu's illness was killing me. I decided to take her to the vet. I couldn't wait around hoping she would get better.
What the vet advised:
- He asked me to ensure the cage is getting fresh air for long periods of time.
- He subscribed an antibiotic for Lulu (to be injected in her mouth).
- He also gave me multivitamins (to be added to the water bowl).
He was sure that Lulu would be alright after the antibiotics are given to her for 10 days.
How to Hold Your Lovebird
My lovebird, Lulu, isn't hand-raised by me like my male lovebird, Mumu. She doesn't even allow me to touch her. So, holding and administering the antibiotic to her had been a real challenge.
Now, how to hold your lovebird when he/she doesn't let you to? Here's what I did and what you can do as well:
- Do not be afraid of bites. Lulu isn't aggressive, I was really lucky in that matter.
- It is best to hold and carry the lovebird if he/she is in the cage.
- Put your bird inside the cage and try to corner the lovebird.
- Then, gently stroke the head. Your lovebird might try to bite you. If they do so, let them. They will either bite your fingers or nibble them. After they feel your fingers aren't a "threat", the lovebird will relax a bit.
- Once he/she is relaxed, gently cup your hand around the lovebird's back so that your thumb and index finger are touching their feet. Once this is done, gently close your thumb and index finger under their feet.
- While their back is cupped in your hand, your thumb and index finger must be lifting the lovebird from their feet.
- Your bird will be now in your grasp. Please make sure you are holding them gently.
Holding your bird isn't easy. It will take at least a dozen tries to finally grasp them. Be gentle. If you feel your lovebird is terrified, leave them alone for some time and try again when he/she is relaxed.
Administering the Antibiotic to Lulu
The vet had asked me to add the prescribed amount of antibiotic in the water bowl. However, Lulu wasn't ready to drink from it due to its dark yellow color and odor. So, I decided to hold her and administer the antibiotic.
How to administer an antibiotic to a lovebird:
- Once your bird is in your grasp (as mentioned above), gently open their beak and put the tip of the injection inside it. Make sure the face of your bird has been tilted above.
- Your bird might try to squirm in your grasp or push the injection aside. Whatever they do, keep your grip gentle.
- Once the injection is inside their beak, inject the medicine slowly. The bird might try to squirm and reject the medicine, but keep trying. If you can't hold and administer the medicine at the same time, ask a family member to help you.
- Once the medicine is administered, release the bird in a safe area. Move away from them as soon as they are released. The bird will take his/her time to become normal (Lulu used to be shocked after each administration).
Your lovebird might squirm in your grasp. Make sure you are handling them gently at all times. DO NOT tighten your hold over them. If the squirming grows worse, RELEASE the bird immediately. You can try administering the medicine later on.
Gradually, the medicine showed its effects on Lulu. She started eating on her own (which was a really good sign). She wasn't sleeping all the time, and she grew active day by day. She did take rest, yes, but I could see the difference in her health. After ten days, everything was okay. Lulu was okay, and I was relieved.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
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© 2018 Sakina Nasir