By Margaret A. Wissman, DVM
Posted: November 7, 2012, 1:15 p.m. PST
Pet birds will usually fully recover from broken bones but the injury requires immediate care. Secondary internal injuries may result from broken bones because of the initial injuries resulting in the fracture. "Bleeding often accompanies broken bones," said Sam Vaughn, DVM, DIP. ABVP — Avian Practice, and because of this he said bird owners must remain calm and handle the injured bird with care.
Most broken bones are due to injuries and traumatic events. In some cases, broken bones may occur as a result of blood calcium problems. This is more likely to occur in young African grey parrots. Hens that have laid an excessive number of eggs may also become calcium depleted, resulting in spontaneous fractures from normal movement.
By Gina Cioli/BowTie Inc/Courtesy Omar's Exotic Birds
If your bird fractures or breaks a bone, stop any bleeding and then get it to your avian veterinarian for treatment.
If the fracture results in bleeding, Vaughn said clotting the wound is priority. Do not wipe the affected area, as it will destroy any clot that may have naturally formed. If the wound must be cleaned, blot rather than wipe, Vaughn said. After hemostasis is reached, stabilize the bird’s joints.“Many times a very thick and firm bandage of gauze sponges and gauze wrap will provide enough stabilization to get the bird into a carrier or small box and then take off to the veterinarian,” Vaughn said. “Ideally, whenever possible, stabilize one joint above the fracture site and one joint below the fracture site.” Manipulating limbs involved with a fracture may result in more soft tissue damage and bleeding, so when in doubt, just loosely wrap your bird in a towel to minimize movement and place your bird in a small carrier for transportation to your avian vet or emergency clinic. Your vet is trained in handling birds with fractures, so don’t worry if you do cannot apply a splint prior to having it evaluated by your avian vet. With some fractures, a bone fragment may protrude through the skin. If possible, just cover the wound with a sterile gauze square and transport to your avian vet as soon as possible.
Once an avian vet has applied a splint or cast, or has pinned the bones, most fractures heal quite quickly in avian species. Supplemental calcium may hasten recovery. Follow-up radiographs (x-rays) may be necessary to monitor progress, and bandage changes are usually necessary. In most cases, the bird will return to complete function, unless the fracture is quite near a joint or involves tendons and ligaments. Open fractures will require special attention, as infection must be controlled through antibiotics and appropriate wound care.
Disclaimer: BirdChannel.com’s Bird Health Index is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s health if you suspect your pet is sick. If your pet is showing signs of illness or you notice changes in your bird’s behavior, take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.