Talk Cockatiels Forum banner

Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 1 of 1 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,158 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Below is an article I've been working on. Hopefully several people can add to it, and possibly post some pix's showing some of their hospital cage set-ups. Hopefully the moderators can add this to the sticky pages for future reference.


Supplemental Heat

When a cockatiel looks or acts off our first instinct is to provide it heat. The main goal of this is to help the bird to regulate it’s body temps until we can either determine the problem or see a vet. Regulation of body temperature depends on several things, which you can use the listing below as a checklist.

The normal body temperature of a cockatiel is between 104-105 degrees (40-40.5 C) The easiest way to get the body temp is if you have a digital thermometer. It can be held under the wing with the tip placed into the wing pit, and the wing held down in place til the thermometer reads the temp. If the body temp is below 104 degrees (40C) then supplemental heat is needed. This same reading can be done on other species of birds to record their body temperatures when healthy, which would be a good reference for future use. I would like to note that if it is a handfed baby, it is always best to feed the chick formula that is it’s normal body temp. This helps the body to conserve energy, rather than use it to warm up the food for digestion.

An excellent reference for emergency and supportive care: Supportive Care and Emergency therapy

Heat is lost from the body by 3 ways:

1...Radiation, which is from the surface of the birds body, such as any exposed skin. If heat is lost this way, adding humidity will help reduce the loss of heat through evaporation from the skin. Any exposed skin is porous and will absorb humidity to help maintain hydration. Humidity can be added by having a jar filled with warm water (with a top that is punctured with holes) placed in the corner of the container/cage. Or, if a heating pad is under the container/cage some of the bedding can be wet in a corner to get warm and evaporate to bring humidity levels up. If the cage/container is covered the covering can also be very lightly misted on the inside to increase humidity levels. NOTE: If using a heating pad under the bird make sure that you have 1” or more distance from the floor of the cage so that the bird does not suffer from hyperthermia. (Hyper means too much of something)

2...Convection, which is the air surrounding the bird should be equal to or just slightly under the birds normal body temps. I have found that (do a Google search) that T-Rex Cobra Heat Mats work very well as a source for convection air surrounding the bird in a hospital or supportive care environment. I have alittle info on my Mousebird site, and have to soon update with pix’s: Emergency heat If it is a baby from the nest or a small bird a glove can be filled with warm water and used for a quick source of heat until a container can be setup: heat source used for small chicks

Other alternative sources of heat can be provided from a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel.

Birds that suffer from foot problems or fractures should be in a wire enclosure to encourage them to use their beak on the wire for balance and the feet for something to grip. If perches are used they should be placed close to the floor to minimize on further injury. Avoid any contact to a heated surface.


If a bird has to be treated with a medication, it is best to have the hospital cage/container big enough so that you do not have to remove the bird. Ambient temps for adult birds should be 85 degrees (29.44C) with humidity at approx 60-70 %. Unfeathered chicks under 10 days old should have an ambient temp. of 94 degrees (35 C) , and older babies at 90 degrees (32.22C) Clinal signs of hyperthermia (over-heating) are panting and holding the wings away from the body.

3...Conduction, which is metal or wood surface which as colder than the bird, and these cooler surfaces will draw heat away from the bird, which is stressful and the bird has to use body reserves to generate heat to compensate. If the bird is able to perch at heated perch may be beneficial.

Below are several things to consider or address when a bird is placed in a heated enviroment or hospital cage.


1...Feather condition (Fluffed-up, molting, plucked)

Many times the condition of the feathers can be a clue to a problem. Such as stress due to changes or illnesses can result in stress bars on new feathers growing in during a molt. When a bird does not feel well it will find a corner or a perch and try to limit it’s movement to conserve on energy and body heat. When conserving body heat the body plumage will appear fluffed. If a bird is suffering from a zinc (heavy metal) toxicity many times there is a subtle change of plumage and the feathers will appear slightly darker and have a satin sheen to them. If a liver problem, as it advances the white barring will get a yellow wash to it. If a bird is plucked, and has problems it is harder to maintain body temperatures due to evaporation through the exposed skin. Determining the cause of plucking needs to be resolved. Several common causes with cockatiels would be food allergies (corn), giardia, zinc toxicity, stress, boredom, environmental contaminants, intestinal parasites (plucking around the vent), and renal/kidney problems (plucking on the rump above the tail, and necrotic long down feathers on flanks)…to name a few.

2...Fat and muscle content, (overweight, or losing weight)

When a bird is unwell and not active it needs to be monitored as to if it is maintaining weight or losing weight. Having a grams scales that weighs in increments of 1 gram is very helpful to monitor weight. It is best to keep some records on each bird to have a record of what their normal weight is. This way you have a base number to determine weight loss or gain. What you want to see is, if the bird appears unwell, is it maintaining the weight or losing weight.

When weight is lost what is happening is the birds body is drawing from the fat stores and muscles. The fat stores contain all the fat soluble nutrients such as vitamin A, C, D, and E, and many of these nutrients are helpful to maintain or boost the immune system in times of need. When the fat reserves are used up the body then starts to draw from the protein sources of the body which are from the muscles. When this occurs weigh gain can be rapid. A bird that has good weight can become emaciated within hours or a day. Weight loss is rapid and can be a gram or 2 per hour when the body starts to draw from the muscle, in addition to loss of body fluids.

Excessive weigh gain can also be a concern when a bird appears unthrifty. Many times when there is a problem with liver function or reproductive problems such as peritonitis the body will retain fluids (which is called ascites) which will accumulate in the abdominal cavity. This fluid can either be sterile, or septic (contain bacteria) and needs to be analyzed and treated if necessary.

When a bird is losing weight and its feet feel cool, and it is having a hard time maintaining body heat it is safe to ‘suspect’ that there may be a bacterial infection as the cause. If it is a hen, and has been setup for breeding, and showing signs of possibly being egg-bound, and no egg is felt then possible peritonitis can be suspect. But regardless of the problem, heat is beneficial until the bird can be seen by a vet. Heat helps the bird from further stress. Stress can trigger secondary bacterial or yeast problems and further compound existing issues.

NOTE: Since this is a long article here is page 2: http://talkcockatiels.com/showthread.php?t=16020
 
1 - 1 of 1 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top