Proper care in a warm, stress-free environment is essential to the recovery of a sick parakeet. If your parakeet displays signs of illness, such as lethargy, change of appetite, fluffed feathers, weight loss or breathing problems, the most important help you can give him is to take him to an avian veterinarian as quickly as possible. Birds hide signs of illness, so by the time you notice symptoms, your parakeet may be seriously ill. Until you can get him to the vet, and after he returns home, the help you provide your sick parakeet can maximize his chances of recovery.
Like humans, a sick parakeet needs to rest to get better. Ideally, you should provide this rest in a quiet area of the house where stressors can be minimized. Other animals, small children, outside traffic, noise and cigarette smoke are among the factors that can increase your parakeet's stress level. If your sick parakeet shares his cage with another bird, consult your veterinarian about separating them so your sick bird can recuperate. Although such separation sometimes induces stress, it's essential if your bird has an infectious disease.
Adjust the Temperature
While healthy birds often fluff their feathers for a variety of reasons, a sick bird that is fluffed up is trying to maintain body heat. Maintaining body heat uses energy that the parakeet needs to combat the illness. Warming his environment helps relieve the energy drain. You can help your sick parakeet by providing an environmental temperature between 85 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit until he recovers. Use an infrared heat lamp or a heating pad to provide needed warmth, and cover half of the enclosure with a blanket. Provide ways for your parakeet to move away from the heat source, and monitor him closely; if he starts panting, he's too warm; adjust the temperature to the point where the panting stops. Avoid rapid temperature reduction after your parakeet recovers -- allow him to adjust gradually to your normal house temperature.
Feed Your Parakeet
When a parakeet gets sick, it's important to follow your veterinarian's feeding instructions. Your bird must have easy access to fresh water and food. A sick bird who stops eating will quickly starve. To combat this, you may have to tempt him with his favorite foods. If your parakeet will not eat voluntarily, your veterinarian may recommend a hand-feeding formula to manually feed him. If your parakeet can't support himself with adequate intake and digestion of food, he may have to be hospitalized for tube feeding.
Part of helping your sick parakeet is making certain he gets his prescribed medications. Your veterinarian will tell you how to administer the medication. He may instruct you to mix the medication into your bird's food or water, or to use a syringe to administer it into the side of your parakeet's beak. For some types of medications, your veterinarian may give your parakeet an injection that's effective over a long period. Make certain your parakeet continues to get his medications for as long as the veterinarian prescribes, and do not become lax about administering them after the bird appears to be better. Remember that birds naturally conceal signs of illness.
Sittich image by Petra KohlstÃ¤dt from Fotolia.com
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.