Respectively, the only person you should listen to about treatment is your vet. Veterinarians do not have all the answers, but at least they are trained to analyze and treat illnesses, and are aware of the full implications of treatments, which most others are not. This does not mean a few old remedies are not good standbys when all else fails. In most cases, modern science provides the best treatments for disease.
If you determine that your bird is ill, it should be separated from other birds and be kept warm. You can fashion a temporary hospital cage by wrapping towels around a small cage and placing a light bulb at one end.
The bird can regulate the amount of heat it wants by moving closer or further from the light bulb. An infrared lamp or a heat lamp will work even better. Alternatively, you could put a canary in a box and put a heating pad under part of the box, again so the canary can move to a temperature that is comfortable for it.
Some of the symptoms of a sick bird are:
* lack of singing
* lower level of activity
* puffed up appearance
* sitting on the bottom of the cage
* crustiness around the eyes and mouth
* pumping tail
* open mouthed or labored breathing
* untidy appearance
* messy vent area
* whole seeds passed in the droppings
Also, be sure the canary has access to food and water. If your canary is on the bottom of the cage, you should place bowls there for it. If it is perching, place seed near its location in the cage. When a bird is ill, offer its favorite treats, without worrying whether they are good for it or not. Does your canary relish canned corn, egg food or apples? Offer them now.
If your canary is hurt, you do not want it to do further damage to itself. Keep the bird in a semidark area, and keep activity around it to a minimum. Once your ill or hurt canary is comfortable, you can call your avian veterinarian for further advice. Be sure to supply as many details as possible. What has your canary been eating? How long has it acted like this? Did it fly into something or display other symptoms? Was another animal involved? All of these things are clues to a veterinarian on how to treat your bird to restore its health or to make it more comfortable.
An illness or accident may not occur during normal business hours. Do you know the policy of your veterinarian about emergencies? Do you know of an emergency clinic or an alternate veterinarian available in the off hours? This is information you should keep handy.
Be sure to get to know an avian veterinarian before you need one desperately, as in an emergency. Birds are very different from dogs and cats, and not all veterinarians have taken the time or attended additional courses in order to be versed in their care.
The best way to find an avian veterinarian in your area is to get a referral from a local bird owner. Contact someone in a bird club, ask a bird owner who is happy with his or her veterinarian or ask for a referral from a veterinarian who does not treat birds. You can also contact the Association of Avian Veterinarians or search their Web site for a listing of avian veterinarians. You will be most comfortable with your birds veterinarian if you schedule an initial WELL BIRD visit when you get your new canary. This means that you will take your bird in to see the veterinarian
What Happens at the Veterinarian?
If you expect something like a doctors visit or a trip to the vet with your dog or cat, you might have certain expectations. Things are different with birds. Birds are prey animals (unlike dogs, cats or people), and so they tend not to show symptoms of illness as obviously. An avian veterinarian relies on his or her knowledge of how you care for your canary, its weight over time and lab tests of blood and droppings to assess the health of your pet bird. A veterinarian sees many birds, and his or her visual assessment is an important indicator about the health of your canary. Your observations as the birds constant companion are also important. Is your canary behaving abnormally, or are things going along okay?
It will be in your best interest to answer your veterinarians questions. They allow a veterinarian to assess a birds condition much better and may lead to some suggestions for changes in care or routine. If you are visiting your veterinarian because your canary has eaten something that might endanger it, or because there has been an accident, give your veterinarian as much information as possible. Bring in a piece of what the canary ate, or a bottle listing the contents, if that is applicable. For an accident, be clear about the time it happened, your canaries reaction and subsequent symptoms.
Listen to what your veterinarian has to say. What kind of questions do you have for him or her? You should find out what services are available to you. What if you have an emergency outside of office hours? What if your veterinarian goes on vacation? Does your prospective veterinarian refer cases to another veterinarian or have an emergency hot line? What are payment terms? It is reassuring to know whether he or she is committed to ongoing education. Does he or she attend professional meetings or belong to the Association of Avian Veterinarians? Is he or she willing to consult with expert veterinarians if symptoms are puzzling?
Do not be surprised if your birds veterinarian frequently has new suggestions for you, or if new treatments or tests become available. The level of veterinarian care for bird health is growing at a rapid rate, and there are continually exciting new developments in avian health care.
In addition to lab tests, parasite control and patching up the occasional accident victim, your veterinarian probably offers other services. Your veterinarian can groom your canaries nails and may offer boarding services for when you will be out of town. Often, a veterinarians office becomes a central point of communication for the community. The office may be notified of lost and found birds, pet sitting services, behavioral consultants, bird club meetings, adoption services and community education projects or requests. You have a lot to gain and a lot to learn by visiting your bird veterinarian on a regular basis!
We give our dogs and cats yearly vaccines against life threatening diseases. Most birds do not receive vaccines. There is a canary pox vaccine, but it may not be appropriate for your pet canary if it is not exposed to other birds. Ask your veterinarian if you are concerned about this.
Preventing Disease and Injury
There are a few basic things you can do to prevent canaries from having accidents and from contracting transmissible diseases. These things may still happen, but at least you have taken as many precautions as possible.
When you keep birds, cleanliness cannot be stressed enough. Keeping their quarters clean prevents yeast, mold and bacterial infections. It promotes resistance to infection and good health. Cleanliness applies to food sources, bowls, daily cage cleaning, the occasional good cage scrubbing and offering your bird water in a clean cup. Soap and water, a vacuum, a broom and an air purifier are good aids to cleanliness. Disinfecting bowls occasionally with a 10 percent bleach solution is advisable.
Your canary needs a good diet, based on either a formulated diet or a seed based diet with supplements and vitamins. Eating right is the best way for it to ward off infection and avoid accidents. Be sure to offer some high protein foods during a canaries molt to help it grow in new feathers.
If a cat should scratch or bite your canary, this is an emergency and an immediate trip to the veterinarian is advised. Cats have bacteria in their mouth that multiplies rapidly in a birds bloodstream, causing death in as little as twenty four hours. Your avian veterinarian will be able to administer antibiotics to save the birds life.
Because both dogs and cats are bird predators, supervise their time with a canary, or restrain or separate the two kinds of pets when a canary is out for free flight time.
Minimize Exposure to Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes can transmit Canary pox to your canary. If you have outside accommodations for your birds, the aviary should be well screened. In your home, put screens on your windows and doors.
Do not permit wild birds to enter your birds living area, if possible. Sparrows may transmit lice, mites or diseases to your canaries.
Windows, Mirrors, Doors
If your canary is flying happily around the house, be aware that it could try to fly through a window or into a mirror. Cover these when a bird is flying in the house. Also close doors carefully, in case your bird is tagging along behind you.
Canaries are especially susceptible to fumes and smoke. A canary should not be exposed to car exhaust because of the carbon monoxide fumes. Keep canaries away from any chemical you may use. This includes chemicals used for cleaning, for home hair permanents and the fumes from newly laid carpeting as well. Some rug freshener powders and some scented candles are also dangerous. Fumes from a self cleaning oven can kill a bird. Take your bird to a pet sitter for a day if you decide to operate your ovens self cleaning feature. Especially lethal are overheated nonstick surfaces. If a nonstick pan is accidentally overheated, the fumes can kill household birds in minutes. If you overheat a nonstick pan, quickly ventilate the area and take your bird to see a veterinarian if it shows any signs of illness. Nonstick surfaces may also be on ironing boards, ironing board covers, stove drip pans and some bakeware.
A common canary accident is getting fiber wound around its leg and foot. Avoid putting fiber into your canaries cage. Supply it with burlap for nests; get sisal, not fabric or rope toys for it. If fiber should get wound around your canaries leg, you may not be able to disentangle, tease off or cut the fiber. It is a job for your veterinarian.
Air Sac Mites
If your canary breathes with its mouth open, it may have mites infesting its trachea or further down in its respiratory system. Your avian veterinarian will be able to treat your bird.
This disease is caused by the fungus aspergillus. It is a widespread mold in our environment, often found in moldy, dusty or damp seed. It causes an infection of the lungs and air sacs, and is usually debilitating and fatal. Signs of aspergillosis are weight loss, vomiting and respiratory infection. Keeping your birds food fresh is a good way to prevent this disorder.
Canary pox is a viral disease, characterized by blisters or crusts on the skin of a bird around its eyes or on its legs and feet. It can be fatal, but some birds recover. Limiting exposure to mosquitoes and quarantining new birds are good ways to prevent this disease.
Canaries can be infested by fleas, mites and lice. Lice usually live on a birds feathers. Air sac mites infect the respiratory tract of canaries, while red mites hide in wood and attack birds at night. This causes loss of blood, loss of sleep and can result in feather plucking.
Feather cysts are cheesy lumps on a canaries wing, typically found in the large, loose feathered canaries. It is not known if feather cysts are a genetic or viral problem. Feather cysts usually do not appear until a canary is several years old, and they may continue to appear on a bird. Breeds prone to feather cysts include the Norwich, crested varieties, frilled birds and the dimorphic color bred canaries. Treatment varies from removal to draining.