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General Health Care Remember to use common sense and consult with an avian veterinarian.

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Old 12-30-2020, 08:24 PM
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Is My Lovebird Aspirating or Just Stressed?! Advice Needed

Hello Everyone,

Happy Holidays. I hope you are all doing well and staying safe.

I need some advice on my 13 year old blue pied peach face lovebird, Romeo. Iím sorry if I ramble, but I am pretty anxious. Iíve had him since 2007, and he means the world to me. Today, I recently took him to the vet, because I notice his stool was mainly liquid/drinking a lot of water, and he was not as active. The vet said that he had a minor respiratory infection, and gave me antibiotics for him to take via syringe (.06 ml every 12 hours). Iíve never given him medicine via syringe, so I was pretty nervous. I wrapped him in a towel, made sure that he was in a vertical position and tried to slowly push the medicine on the left side of his beak.The syringe opening faced the right side not directly in his throat. I know I was nervous but I did the best that I could.

After giving him the medicine, I feel like I gave it to him too quickly. He started making a funny noise I havenít heard before. Like the title points out, I can best describe it as a cough/sneeze/choke sound. He flew off afterwards and started making the sounds. There was some nasal discharge and he seemed to be yawning a lot. Though I donít know if the yawning is choking or aspirating. Itís not horribly violent, it just made me insanely worried.

The noises stopped for a minute or two, then he flew to my dad and it started again. He had a couple more episodes lasting about a minute each.

I collected him and put him back in his cage and he drank a little bit of water and some food. He still had a couple episodes, but again not violent. I cleaned the discharge off with a soft qtip, and put him a quiet, dark room.

My avian doctors office is closed, so I called the emergency vet to ask their opinion. The vet tech over the phone said it didn't sound too serious, probably stress related because of the entire day and him taking meds for the first time via syringe. I was also advised that I should monitor him closely, put him in a quiet spot and to take him in if heís worse.

Iím pretty frazzled, since this has never happened before. Can anyone please give me advice on what to do? The emergency vet is over an hour away, and the one available doesnít specialize in birds.

Thank you so so much!
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Old 12-30-2020, 08:34 PM
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Re: Is My Lovebird Aspirating or Just Stressed?! Advice Needed

Can you take a video and send it to an avian vet that is open in another time zone? It's hard to say....


I am, sadly, not much help here..but I can share some stories and a possible alternative to syringe meds...


Noodles once had her nares flushed after taking a dose of meds that somehow got up there when the vet gave it (I think because the vet tech screwed up and allowed her to change angles during administration-- he chided her for it at the time)---afterwards, Noodles periodically made this awful sound for like 3 hours ...very scary...It was like a weird coughing sound in spells...She had water/meds in her nose, not her "lungs", but it caused some irritation, like a weird, fairly violent sneeze/cough hybrid fit that repeated for several rounds...Scared me to death...sounded like a sneeze and a cough mixed together and she threw her head forward when doing it. It wasn't aspiration, but I was afraid it was...that having been said, I am not sure if aspiration could sometimes still look like that or not.

The other day she got some water up her nose while bathing in her pyrex pan, and made a sort of creepy wheeze (for probably 20 min) which prompted me to call the vet after the first 3 (because it was noticeable and a few drops of water came out of her nose on one side). If I recall correctly, the vet tech described water in the air sacs as sounding like a gurgling sound from within...or something like that...I think? You might be able to find videos of other birds aspirating. It was also implied that I would see behavior changes, like lethargy or stumbling possibly....I am not sure if this would also apply to aspirated meds or not, but I'm putting it out there.


If she is super stressed, she will sometimes make a hissing sound (sort of) when she breathes, but again, different species...so, IDK..


If I were you, in the future, I would try to hide the medicine in some food (if you are sure he will eat it all)...Unless you are okay with syringing (it just is rough for me). You will waste doses by default if you hide it in special foods, which is why you may have to get more meds if you do it this way. It's also important to track exactly how much was consumed because you will have to break up doses. You often can't give the whole does at once because it will make the food taste bad and they will not eat it...so with mine, I hide it in a few different items (like, 1/4 dose, 1/4 dose, 1/4 dose, 1/4 dose within a 1-2 hour span) BUT the trick is to not only track the amount consumed, but also the amount administered, as well as any that is wasted or uneaten, as you will have to still give the rest somehow. That also means making sure they are still hungry enough to eat, so don't give too much food when hiding partial doses, or your bird will fill up. You want to use a food your bird REALLY likes for this....for me, mini-Nilla wafers cut into 1/4s and made into medicine sandwiches worked well for hiding meds from my (much larger) cockatoo--although she did wise up and start picking around it at some point-I know that isn't the healthiest thing, but it was sort of life-or death, so I did it and it worked....sweet potato or plain oatmeal (even with some mashed banana) can be another way...Baby food fruit/veg puree -NON FORTIFIED (and also, non salted, no meat, no avocado). Noodles will let me do pretty much anything to her, except syringe feed her...I'd have to towel her and have at least 1 other person with me, so it's just not an option.

Last edited by noodles123; 12-30-2020 at 09:02 PM.
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Old 12-30-2020, 08:52 PM
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Re: Is My Lovebird Aspirating or Just Stressed?! Advice Needed

If this happens next time you give him meds. Hold him firmly in your two cupped hands, with head out then quickly flip your hands so his head is down facing the floor. This will clear his air way.
I give meds from the front of the beak, drip and wait, they hold it before they swallow, when you see them swallow, give the next drip.

It most likely that since the vet says he has a respiratory infection, thst tge stress just made him breath harder.

With a sick burd, you should keep him caged nit flying around. You can get him out for a cuddle, but keep him quiet and put him back.

Warmth is so important for sick birds. I will find my link. Also what does he est? Because if he is on all seed diet he will hsve low vitamin A which is a leading cause of developing respiratory issues.
https://www.beautyofbirds.com/sickbirdcare.html

On vitamin A deficiency
https://birdsupplies.com/blogs/news/...n-a-deficiency
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Last edited by Laurasea; 12-30-2020 at 09:05 PM.
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Old 12-30-2020, 11:04 PM
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Re: Is My Lovebird Aspirating or Just Stressed?! Advice Needed

Thank you both @noodles123 & @Laurasea for answering me! I really appreciate it.

So far he’s seemed to calm down, and is currently sleeping in his little sling. I moved his cage closer to the heater and covered his cage so he would retain more warmth. He ate some seeds by hand and drank some filtered water. I’m wondering if this more of a nasal issue, like @noodles123 ‘s issue so I’ll look more into that and ask the vet tomorrow if I can send a video.

His diet is mainly seeds & millet, but he loves egg yolks, chicken, spinach, melons and blueberries and crackers. He will try to dive into my bag of popcorn if got the chance... I try to get him to eat stuff outside of seeds and he doesn’t seem to mind!

I started giving him a vitamin supplement (Oasis) and mixed it in his food. He tends to eat it that way via putting it in water. Maybe I’ll try that with the meds and mix them with egg yolk?? I’ll keep you guys updated.
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Old 12-30-2020, 11:16 PM
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Re: Is My Lovebird Aspirating or Just Stressed?! Advice Needed

Egg yolk? Raw? No they can get salmonella that way, only offered boiled or scrambled.

Your bird needs veggies. Romaine lettuce actually has vitamins like vitamin A, but peppers like bell pepper and red chili peppers are a great source if vitamin A. Or cooked sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin Yiu can cook dime lentils, or quinoa and add some cooked shredded carrots, diced butternut squash, a little sweet potatoes cooked, maybe some peas and serve that, sometimes they will eat dishes like that better. You can also buy quality pellets, and grind them up add to tge above or to oatmeal to encourage eating.

I think tgeir are risks with vitamin supplements. Getting them to eat the healthy foods is the best way.
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Last edited by Laurasea; 12-30-2020 at 11:18 PM.
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Old 12-31-2020, 09:41 AM
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Re: Is My Lovebird Aspirating or Just Stressed?! Advice Needed

Hi @Laurasea!

I always cook the egg yolks first, by boiling them or scrambling that you’ve mentioned. I have not tried raw. I’ll try to get him to have more veggies like sweet potatoes or peas! He likes eating soft foods and has eaten mashed sweet potatoes before. I’ll try mashed peas too!

Romeo seems to be doing a lot better this morning. More active and the sneezing and ‘yawning’ aren’t present. He’s still in his cage next to the heater, and he seems to like that. I’ll keep you posted on any dramatic changes. Thanks again for your advice! I appreciate it.
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Old 12-31-2020, 12:07 PM
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Re: Is My Lovebird Aspirating or Just Stressed?! Advice Needed

Quote: Originally Posted by Lovebird94 View Post
Hi @Laurasea!

I always cook the egg yolks first, by boiling them or scrambling that you’ve mentioned. I have not tried raw. I’ll try to get him to have more veggies like sweet potatoes or peas! He likes eating soft foods and has eaten mashed sweet potatoes before. I’ll try mashed peas too!

Romeo seems to be doing a lot better this morning. More active and the sneezing and ‘yawning’ aren’t present. He’s still in his cage next to the heater, and he seems to like that. I’ll keep you posted on any dramatic changes. Thanks again for your advice! I appreciate it.

You are a very good bird mamma and I am so happy that you are as invested as you are. I will be thinking of you. Please keep us updated.



Glad to hear he is doing better! If you are referring to a happy hut, please, as soon as he is better, get rid of it (preferably when he can't see YOU do it). For now, he will be fine, but they are not safe. Don't mess with it until he is totally over this because moving his favorite things will make thing worse during a time of stress.. Birds can get tangled in them, develop blockages and can get hormonal because of them. He will be fine with it between now and recovery, I am sure..but In general, when it comes to parrots, you want to minimize access to shadowy spaces like that--it related to nesting (which is done by mating birds in the wild and can alter behavior etc).



Just be careful with seasonings etc-- although, TBH, when my bird was very sick, I would do pretty much anything to get her to take her meds (within reason)--I started making her tiny bits of Alexia sweet potato fries at one point because they were organic and lower in salt and fat than a standard fry--felt bad, but again, had to get that medicine down. Within reason, if a bird is really sick and not eating, if you can get them to eat something (even if it isn't ideal, it can be better than nothing- as long as it isn't LOADED with salt or sugar and as long as it isn't poisonous **avoid fortified grains/cereals/juices etc** (human levels of vitamins can be toxic to birds and lots of human food--especially the stuff like pastas etc can be fortified (I did find some unfortified gluten free, chickpea pasta that I used to sneak meds to my bird though)...Plain mashed potato, scrambled egg (no salt if possible), sweet potato, mashed fruit...also, consider steaming apples etc-- sometimes the texture makes a difference (just let them cool first and don't steam them whole, as the seeds are toxic)



Once he is better,you should also try to get him more interested in veggies and chop (pellets are widely accepted too, although some do chop only instead). He should have some seeds, but you want it to be more than fatty foods- never make a bird go cold-turkey, but consider introducing greater variety (lots will be wasted and it can take months for them to try something new, but it's a good goal). They can be SUPER picky, which is why cutting them off of anything they know can cause their stubborn butts to starve, but my repeatedly exposing them and modeling eating what you want them to eat, it can help.
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Old 12-31-2020, 04:19 PM
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Re: Is My Lovebird Aspirating or Just Stressed?! Advice Needed

Wow, @noodles123 this all very good to know!! Thank you so much. And thank you for the kind words. I really appreciate it.

I’m going to try steamed apples and sweet potatoes tonight and some lettuce. Fingers crossed.

Also, very good to know about the happy hut stuff! I had no clue. I’ll try to get it away from
The cage when Romeo isn’t in the room.
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