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3...Hydration status

Dehydration lowers blood and body fluid volumes and drops the core body temps. Birds that suffer from shock or trauma will also benefit from hydration. The normal distribution of fluids and water in the body are as follows. Total body water in an adult bird accounts for approximately 60% the body weight, and the percentage is even higher in young birds. Extracellular water constitutes approximately 18 to 24% of the body weight, depending on the method used to determine its volume from the birds age, sex, and lean body weight. Blood volume (cells and plasma) constitutes approximately 4.4 to 8.3% of body fluid volume in thickness. In other avian species percentages can be as high as 14.3%.

When a bird is losing weight part of this can be a result of losses with fluid volumes in the body, in addition to tissue loss. Loss of fluids frm the body include, urine, feces, respiration, not drinking. Sources of water for the body are by ingestion, water in foods, water produced through the metabolic process in the body, and from absorption through the skin from humidity.

A physical examination can be done to determine if a bird is dehydrated. You can look for an area of the skin that is unfeathered (usually under the wing near the flank) and pull on the skin between your fingers. If the bird is hydrated the elasticity of the skin will pull the skin back flush to the body. If the bird is dehydratated the skin will remain tented from the body for a few seconds. The skin may also look very dry, have a wrinkled look, and the flesh under the skin a reddened look. The eyes will appear dull, flat or sunken into the head. The feet and beak will feel cool. The heart rate will be increased. And the toes will have a thin stick-like look to them.

There are several degrees of dehydration that can be determined from physically looking at the bird.

1...Under 5% is very difficult to detect.
2...5 to 6% shows a very subtle loss in skin elasticity.
3...7 to 10% will show a definite loss of skin elasticity, prolonged filling time of the basilic artery and veins, dry mucous membranes, loss of brightness and roundness of the eyes, with a sunken appearance.
4...10 to 12% Tented skin stands in place, possible signs of shock, muddy color to the scales of the feet, and thinness of the toes, dry mucous membranes, cool extremities, increased heart rate, poor pulse quality.
5...Extreme depression, signs of shock, death imminent if hydration is not corrected.

When dehydrated the bird is in need of fluids. In order for digestion and the organs to work efficiently they must have good hydration. Digestion and organs can get severely impaired or fail if hydration is not corrected.
If the bird will eat and drink this is one source of fluids. Below is a recipe for a homemade electrolyte solution that can be used for the water or be carefully fed orally. Other ways of getting fluids into the body can be done by gavage or tube/crop feeding about 1/2cc at a time. Or in extreme cases fluids can be administered Sub-Q (subcutaneously) under the skin. A vet can calculate how much fluid would be needed by the stage of dehydration and body weight. The vet can also show a client how to administer the fluids, amounts and frequencies needed. Note: The fluids should be warmed to body temperature.
Home Made Lactated Ringers​
Electrolyte solution for re-hydration​
Mix the following in a jar:
8 oz. of warm water
½ Tablespoon of sugar
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
Still well, and refrigerate. This solution is good for 2-3 days when mixed. Initially the solution can be mixed 50/50 with water till the bird gets used to the taste.
4...Food intake

When a bird is sick it is important to determine if it is eating or not. As good guide, is if it is eating it should be pooping. Foods like spray millet are good for convalescing birds because it is easily digestible, and a good source of energy. Of the bird is interested in eating, food and water should be placed close to the bird. If not eating, seeds, pellets, and veggies can be spread on the floor of the cage around the bird to encourage picking and eating. NEVER attempt to do a diet change when a bird is deliberated.

If a bird is losing weight, it is wise for a person to know how to tube/crop or gavage feed if the bird is not eating on it’s own. Tube/crop or gavage feeding should be skills all person should learn how are safely done so that in times of need you would know how to do this. The toold needed for doing this would be a good addition into a birdie first aid kit. Many times when there is extreme weight loss the bird will need an easily absorbed source of protein and amino acids. I have found that dissolving several grains of bee pollen in ½ to 1cc water, and adding to a hand feeding formula to feed is very helpful. Adding a little probiotics or yogurt will also aid in good intestinal flora. If the bird is weaned or an adult the crop skin will be small and tight, so the capacity for food is small. The max that should be fed to is 2-3cc/ml at a feeding at a temperature of 104 (40C) degrees.

If a bird is very lethargic, it can be due to being hypoglycemic , and a drop of Karo Syrup or Honey can be added to 1cc of water, and orally fed. Or several drops of each can be can be added to the drinking water. If the bird is a female and a calcium deficiency (such as egg-binding) is suspected a drop of oral calcium (neocalglucan, which can be from a pharmacist), or a TUMS tablet can be crushed, and ¼ tablet mixed with 1cc of water, and a couple drops orally fed will help get calcium into the body.
5...Respiration (normal or labored breathing)

When a bird has labored, open mouthed breathing this can be a source of moisture loss as it expels air. An environment that contains heat and humidity is very beneficial to respiratory problems

Some primary respiratory diseases include: labored breathing can be from shock or trauma, a systemic bacterial, fungal, chlamydial, toxins, ingested foreign objects, parasitic infections, fluid accumulation (ascites) in the body cavity that put pressure on organs and the air sac along the side of the body, mycoplasmal, or neoplasia. Extraresiratory diseases include: thyroid, hepatic, renal, gonadal, oral masses, colelomic fluid, cardiovascular disease, and neoplasia.

When a bird has a bacterial infection this can lower body temps. Low body or blood volumes also contribute to a lower body temperature.

A vet visit would be in order and diagnosis can be determined by, a CBC, chemistry panel, radiographs, and abdominocentesis (drawing of fluid from body, if present) Therapy is based on the diagnosis and may include oxygen therapy, antibiotics, antifungal, vitamins, nutritional support, and fluids. During treatments, until the bird is stabilized keep in a heated environment
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