HARI Yellow Naped Amazon -Photo Credit: Kevina Williams

Avian First Aid: Contents of a HARI Approved Kit

First Aid, Are You Ready?

Avian caretakers should always be ready in the event of emergency. When is a good time to learn about first aid for your avian companion? Well, if you’re asking yourself that question, it might be a good idea to stay tuned to this HARI series on Avian First Aid. The next few posts will cover essential first aid methods plus more holistic remedies. To get you started, we’re tapping into the HARI Approved First Aid Arsenal as presented for Parrot Life Seminars!

Avian Veterinarian

An avian veterinarian should always be consulted as soon as possible, should your bird present health concerns. The list compiled below includes recommended products you should have easily accessibility, although their use requires fundamental education of their potential benefits and contra-indications and proper dosages. Should symptoms be alleviated with their use, we still strongly recommended that an avian veterinarian be consulted nonetheless as soon as possible.

Reference Books

First Aid For Birds: An Owner’s Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet  Julie Rach Mancini, Gary A. Gallerstein

Holistic Care for Birds: A Manual of Wellness and Healing David McCluggage, Pamela Leis Higdon

HARI Quaker getting weighed
Caretakers that want to be actively participating in the health monitoring of their cherished feathered companion can do so by weighing their parrot regularly.

Here’s a list of recommended items to add to your Avian First Aid Kit!

  • Pet status file with weight monitoring chart
  • First aid reference manual
  • Emergency contact info for a specialized avian veterinarian, a reliable animal veterinarian with whom you have built a trustworthy relationship that can contact a specialized avian veterinarian for advice , an experienced handler or aviculturist
  • A small cage or aquarium that can be adapted for use as an intensive care unit until a veterinarian can be consulted
  • Scale  and scale perch for weight monitoring
  • Restraint towel and Velcro strips
  • Pen light- to monitor pupil dilation and for the monitoring of papilla of the choanal region
  • 5 1/2  size Hemostats for the removal of blood feathers
  • Ripley Miller leg band removal pliers (exclusively from L&M Bird leg bands for smaller Psittacine and hooked-billed species leg bands)
  • Cutters for the removal of sturdier leg bands and potentially cage wire if entrapment arises.
  • Sharp/blunt sharp scissors (to free birds that have caught leg or neck in rope toys….and bandage material
  • Small battery operated  rotary-Dremel tool with white or light blue stone ( manicure Salon Shaper is the best for use on birds)Cat Carrier's such as this one can accomodate birds nicely
  • Tweezers
  • magnifier
  • 5cc syringe
  • 1 cc syringe
  • Heating pad
  • Transporter or Pet Carrier
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hand feeding formula
  • Fresh millet
  • Nylon dog bone for the inspection of the oral cavity of a parrot, a small paper clip can be used for the inspection of a small cockatiel, lovebird or budgie sized bird.
  • Bird or fish net for birds in flights suitable for the species size
  • Roll of white paper towels ( to use in bottom of cage to monitor droppings)
  • Coffee grinder (to grind formulated granules into formula for syringe feeding )
  • Sample size bag of fresh food in case of emergency evacuation or hospitalization
  • Oxyfresh Cleansing Gele’
  • Sample bag –“Ziplock” style: to conserve feces samples and feathers with abnormalities(stress bars, off colors, damaged feather due to feather damaging behavior)
  • Clamp and fixture for heating lamp
  • Silver nitrate sticks (for bleeding nail only never apply on skin)
  • Nail Safe Styptic powder (for use exclusively on nails)
  • Misting-spray water bottle

Bandaging material

  • Vet wrap roll
  • Cosmetic wedges Latex free (used for Human application and blending of make-up)
  • White bandage tape
  • Steri-strip Skin closure ( Nexcare)
  • Cotton tip applicators
  • Thin sanitary pads individually wrapped for bandages
  • Coffee stirrer plastic sticks  for splints

Water Soluble Ointments

  • Calendula Gel
  • Oxyfresh  Pet Gel
  • Aloe Vera 100 % pure gel

Other Ointments and Aids

  • Hydrocortisone cream ( concentrated for young  or breeding birds)
  • Hibitane® ointment
  • Vitamin E gel
  • Packets for sterile lubricant – or better yet a small vial of olive oil both for use topically on the cloaca for emergency treatment of egg retention
  • Calcium Gluconate or liquid calcium (without sugar) for oral administration in case of egg retention (used ideally in conjunction with lubricant on the cloaca and an increased humidity in the immediate environment.
  • Rehydrating solution such a Gastrolyte® oral rehydration salt or Pedialyte ® Freezer Pops.

    Living World Clay-Cal
    Calcium Enriched Clay Supplement
  • Liquid Aloe Vera gel ( drinkable Aloe see Parrot Life for therapeutic virtues)
  • Camilia® for pain relief (“Boiron” single dose homeopathic medicine for teething babies)
  • Living World Clay-Cal
  • Activated Charcoal  Digestive Aid
  • Bentonite Clay paste Tube ( Argiletz)
  • Bentonite – green clay powder ( Argiletz)
  • “Traumeel” tablets ( Heel)
  • Oculoheel® Heel homeopathic eye drop preparation
  • Bismuth subsalicylate liquid ( Pepto Bismol®)
  • Gentian violet 1 %
  • Apple cider vinegar unpasteurized with “mother”
  • Nutri-cal ® nutritional high calorie dietary supplement paste
  • Grape fruit extract tablets
  • Saline Nasal Spray
  • Chamomile infusion bags

Additional items for the Aviculturist & Retail Bird Department

  • Collection  jar 10% neutral Buffered Formalin ( in case something needs to be preserved for histopathological examination)
  • Culturette (collection swab to be brought to your avian veterinarian for isolation of bacterial and fungal infection)
  • Feeding tubes for crop washes of neonates ( Tyco health care Kendall Sovereign)
Parrots instinctively flock to clay licks.

Geophagia & Clay-Cal Bentonite Supplement

Do Our Companion Birds Need a “DETOX”?

With the captive lifestyle one would think no…after all, as avian caretakers, we offer great diet, optimal environment, protection from those poisonous plants and substances-a lifestyle very different from our birds’ wild counterparts. So let’s look at this a little closer…

First the definition of Geophagia

Amazon rainforest parrots at the Manu CliffThe consumption of soil or clay for diet benefit. In the wild, parrots instinctively flock to clay licks. It is believed by many field researchers that birds do this to detoxify their digestive systems after consuming toxic plants or food sources…and to add missing nutrients to their diet.

Without a doubt, most of the avian community is aware of the geophagia activities of wild parrots at the Manu Cliffs in Peru. Several species of parrots, in addition to other animal species, have been observed consuming the clays at the well known Manu Cliff as well as clay licks found all over the world.  Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the existence of geophagy. It is believed that clay consumption by the wild parrot population provides supplemental minerals such as calcium that may be lacking in the routine diet as well as providing the means to eliminate their digestive systems of dietary toxins.

How does Geophagia, or rather, the need for our Living World Clay-Cal fit in with our companion birds?

Living World Clay-CalWell, Living World Clay-Cal is a clay product that combines the detoxifying benefits of Bentonite Clay and charcoal with calcium for nutrient supplement.

One of the primary benefits of bentonite clay, specifically montmorillonite clay-with superior levels of cation exchange capacity (ability of absorb toxins), is its effect on countering dietary toxins by binding mycotoxins or fungal toxins, endotoxins, manmade toxic chemicals and bacteria. Because of the clay’s ability to act as an antacid, Living World Clay-Cal can protect the gut lining from corrosion. This alone improves food intake as it protects the GI tract from chemical and biological irritation. At HARI, our birds are regularly supplied with fresh tree branches for perching, chewing and shredding activities. And while the wood source is perfectly safe, some of the tannins found in the wood bark can contain secondary compounds toxins. The Living World Clay-Cal helps our birds deal with these possible toxins found in the branches. Living World Clay-Cal elevated PH level plays a critical role in the bird’s ability to remain healthy and resist disease.

What other possible toxins are companion birds exposed to?

Well, there are multiple household chemicals that come from floors, carpets, cleansing agents for example. In addition, think about the possible pesticides and additives found on fresh fruits and vegetables.  How about genetically modified food items? Living World Clay-Cal won’t undo a down and out toxic exposure-but will help your birds deal with the casual exposure that often goes undetected in everyday life.

Living World Clay-Cal
Companion birds can greatly benefit from daily consumption of a calcium-enriched detoxifier. Clay-Cal can be sprinkled onto food and fruit.

Let’s not forget the Calcium benefits as well. Living World Clay-Cal also supplements the calcium needs for healthy bone development. And, how about those chronic egg layers?  Typically, in the past, we’ve offered our companion birds, especially the passerines, grit, which has some calcium benefit. The negative aspect of grit includes crop impaction as the grit morsel does not break down. This is especially dangerous with birds displaying pica behavior. (Pica-overconsumption or craving for food or non-food item as a result of deficiency or undesirable internal condition). Living World Clay-Cal can be safely given to birds and pica behavior observations should be an indication to the avian caretaker to seek avian veterinarian advice.

Living World Clay-Cal is not a substitute for proper avian medical advice.