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Burns

Find out what to do if your pet bird is burned from chemicals, fires, hot oil and more.

By Margaret A. Wissman, DVM
Posted: November 15, 2012, 3:00 p.m. PST

DESCRIPTION OF

A burn may be caused by chemicals, electricity or heat. Burns are categorized as first, second or third degree, depending on the severity of the tissue damage. A burn may appear as a reddened area, and it may be oozing fluid, or the tissue may appear blanched initially.

SYMPTOMS OF

Most often, flighted birds become victim to burns by landing in hot cooking oil, boiling water or by contacting hot cooking surfaces. Burns most commonly occur on the legs and feet when birds come in contact with hot surfaces. A burn on a bird’s tongue may also occur if the bird bites an electrical cord. Burns may also be caused by contact with chemicals, such as bleach or other caustic agents. Burns of the crop tissue may occur, and can be caused by one feeding of hand-feeding formula that is very hot or from multiple feedings of formula that is too warm. Rarely a bird may ingest a very hot food item, resulting in a burn to the mouth, esophagus or crop.

IMMEDIATE CARE

Flush the burned area with plenty cool water or saline. Do not apply ointment or butter to the wound, as that will entrap the heat and may make the burn worse. Keep the burned area clean and seek veterinary assistance immediately .

LONG-TERM CARE
African grey
By Gina Cioli/BowTie Inc./Courtesy Jennifer Ketchersid
A fully flighted bird may accidentally land in a hot item, such as boiling water on the stove.

Consistency in using the proper topical treatments will ensure an efficient healing process. Follow your avian veterinarian’s instructions for follow-up care. Supportive care of secondary infections may be necessary. If the burn area is found through Gram’s stain not to be infected, a hydroactive dressing will help prevent water loss and encourage granulation tissue. Pain medication and support care are extremely important in burn cases. Most burns result in the bird losing a lot of fluids through the injury initially, so intravenous, subcutaneous or intraosseous fluids may be required. Crop burns usually require surgery once the wound perforates, resulting in a fistula. Attempting surgery prior to that time will usually be ineffectual, as the tissue may still be dying, resulting in the sutures pulling out and the repair breaking down.

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.

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