Deciding what should be in your first aid kit for avian emergencies will depend on how comfortable you are in carrying out certain procedures, the availability of an avian veterinarian in your area, and your own knowledge of avian medicine.

The following is in my first aid kit for birds:

  • Rubbing alcohol and alcohol swabs
  • Hibitane (chlorhexidine) as a disinfectant. Do NOT use hydrogen peroxide since it can cause tissue injury.
  • Silver nitrate sticks for bleeding nails. Do not use on blood feathers, skin or beak (can cause tissue destruction and
  • systemic toxicity but is safe for nails). I no longer use Kwik Stop since I inadvertently got some of the powder in a bird’s
  • eye resulting in conjunctivitis.
  • Gelfoam – stops bleeding from flesh wounds. I cut this into small pieces suitable for applying to leg injuries.   I get the
  • Gelfoam from my avian vet.
  • Tissue glue – to stop bleeding from non-damaged blood feathers.
  • Hemostat or needle tip pliers to remove broken blood feathers etc.
  • Sterile saline for irrigation.
  • Lactated Ringer’s solution.
  • Gauze swabs.
  • Vetwrap.
  • Micropore tape.
  • Assorted bandages.
  • Tegaderm dressing – excellent for covering certain types of open wounds.
  • Aloe vera gel – may provide relief for scalds or burns.
  • Polysporin cream (topical antibiotic).
  • Scissors.
  • Assorted syringes for feeding, irrigation or for parenteral administration of fluids. (I am able to give injections to my birds
  • and will give subcutaneous Lacated Ringer’s solution if a bird is dehydrated or in shock).
  • Handfeed formula ( for sick birds).
  • Antacid preparation – in case bird accidentally ingests an irritant plant or substance. (I do not have poisonous plants in
  • my home).
  • Hot/cold pack.
  • Wire cutters.
  • Magnifying head piece (“hoop”) with light attached.

In addition to the above, I have an Aquabrood unit and a 10 gallon glass aquarium with a cover already set up ready in which to place a sick or injured bird. I place a heating pad under half of the aquarium. I also have ready access to a portable oxygen unit for egg-binding and other emergencies.

My kit is probably more extensive than necessary, but I have faced many avian emergencies and am called upon quite frequently by friends for help in their emergencies.

“Article by Gillian Willis”
Vancouver, B.C.
Copyright © Gillian A.Willis.
Permission to re-use any part of this text (whole or in part) must be obtained from the author.

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