First Aids in Birds – 5 Steps to Help Your Pet Bird

Translated by Nick R

If we are not prepared to take care of our friends in case of accidents, a small injury could turn into something more serious. What can I do if my pet bird gets injured?

Do domestic birds require first aid? 

Yes, birds, as well as other animals and humans, require first aid in case of an emergency involving their health before taking them to the veterinarian. Don’t forget that these are just previous measures before a professional veterinary intervention, so don’t try to be the Dr. House of birds, please!

There are many causes, read on and learn about some of the most common accidents in domestic birds:

Causes of accidents in domestic birds 

Accidents are something we cannot avoid and can happen at any time, so be prepared and prevent any dangerous situation by attacking the causes. These are the six main causes of accidents in domestic birds:

  • Attacks from predatory animals (cats, dogs, other birds, etc).
  • Dangerous elements inside and outside the cage.
  • Fights with other birds.
  • Poorly sited environment.
  • Traffic accident (open windows).
  • Toxic food or substances.

First aid for domestic birds 

Accidents are situations to take into account when caring for pet birds and for this reason, you must be prepared; have basic knowledge and the right tools, that is to say, know how to provide first aid.

What is first aid? Excellent question. It is all the immediate measures that are taken in case of any emergency that endangers the life or integrity of your bird, such as accidents that include: blows, wounds, burns, and loss of a limb, among others. These measures serve as a guide and applying them properly and timely can save your pet’s life.

First aid is useful in case your bird has an internal or external injury of low to medium severity. However, if your pet suffers a serious injury, you could also act quickly through an immediate care protocol and basic veterinary elements as a measure prior to hospitalization at the veterinary clinic.  Here are the five steps to follow:

1. Prepare a first aid kit for your bird 

The first step, before starting any curative action, is to prepare a first aid kit. Without this element, you won’t be able to carry out proper emergency care before an eventual trip to the veterinarian. The first aid kit will become the “miracle” suitcase where you store the necessary elements to immediately attend to your bird if it suffers an accident.

This case must include several indispensable elements to treat different types of wounds. The most important elements that a first-aid kit should include are:

  • Thermometer.
  • Surgical gloves.
  • Scissors.
  • Tweezers.
  • Alcohol.
  • Gauze.
  • Cotton.
  • Serum for hydration.
  • Physiological saline for wounds and burns.
  • Astringent powder to cauterize wounds quickly.
  • Peroxide (made up of 50% drinking water).


In spite of what one may think, it is not advisable to store medicines in the first aid kit or to give them to the bird. Medications or surgical procedures are only performed by a specialist.

2. Implement a first aid protocol for your bird 

In order to attend to an emergency due to accidents in domestic birds, it is necessary to have more than a first aid kit; implementing a protocol of how to use this element in certain cases is fundamental; one cannot improvise.

The reality is that, in these cases, your first reaction will be to panic and freak out, which is quite normal. However, my recommendation is that you don’t get carried away by fear and think with a cool head, try to calm down, take a breath and look at the bird carefully.

In that sense, the point of the protocol is to give you basic instructions to take care of your injured bird with agility through five steps:

  • Identify the bird’s ailment in the shortest time.
  • Provide adequate and timely care.
  • Determine the severity of the ailment.
  • Make decisions regarding the bird’s condition.
  • Carry out the respective periodical cures.

3. Observe your bird before giving first aid 

Now that you have the medical supplies and instructions for treating your pet in an emergency, the next step is observation. Yes, observation is essential before performing any other action, because if you have not checked the bird’s state of health before starting first aid, you won’t know what it is suffering from or, in the worst case, if it is still alive.

In order to determine the vital signs or severity of the injury, follow the instructions below for a proper check of the animal:

Check the scene where your bird suffered the accident 

Observing requires attention, so be attentive to the place where the accident possibly occurred, I mention this because the bird may have been able to move after the accident, especially when it has been out of the cage for a long time. By checking the accident site, you will be able to determine the cause of the accident.

Check the bird’s vital signs 

Grasp the bird very carefully without squeezing or grabbing it by the wings or tail and check its vital signs: the bird is moving, breathing, its eyes are open, its heart is beating, is it alive or dead?

It’s alive!

If the bird is still breathing and its heart is beating, but it cannot move, use a towel to carefully pick it up and check its entire body for external wounds or injuries. Also, see if it is dazed or responds well to visual stimuli. Be very careful with your movements and the bird’s movements because it could be further injured by a simple flap of the wings or a wrong move.

Then you have to determine whether the injuries are internal or external and how serious they are.

Check the bird’s temperature 

Birds normally maintain a slightly high body temperature. If its temperature is below 35°C you should pay attention; it is not normal.

To know what is the bird’s temperature, take it gently and lift its wing (armpit). There, with the help of a thermometer, you will be able to determine its body temperature, which should be between 35°C and 43°C (average body temperature).

If you don’t have one, touch the armpit with your warm hand, the thermal sensation should not be cold but warm. If the animal’s temperature is too low, cover it with a blanket to maintain its body temperature.

4. Provide first aid to your bird 

Now that you know what has happened to your bird, it’s time to act quickly and provide immediate attention, starting first aid with the items in the first aid kit, depending on the severity of the injuries.

Remember to sterilize your hands and the elements to be used before any procedure, and always wear gloves.

The wounds of your bird can be classified in a simple way on two levels:

  • Severe wounds. If there is abundant bleeding from wounds with a certain depth that go through tissues beyond the epidermis (skin) and/or involve organs. In this case, you must implement first aid and immediately take your pet to the veterinarian. A hemorrhage can represent the end of your bird, it could quickly bleed to death. So, while you can largely use the immediate care measures (see procedure below), it is best, once you have secured the animal’s vital signs, to take it to the veterinarian.
  • Mild wounds. If the wounds are superficial with shallow depth and slight bleeding, treat your bird with the instructions below. Cuts and bruises are often not serious and you can perform the entire procedure, following the protocol.

External injuries 

Bites, bumps, burns, or wounds are easier to identify because they present with physical signs, including external burns, cuts, and bruises. In some cases, fractures may occur, which although they produce internal bone damage, are easy to identify by an external sign.

Offer first aid to your bird according to the type of injury:

Accidental strikes 

Accidental strikes are one of the main causes of death in birds and it has a high probability of happening (and they have wings). Accidental strikes sometimes do not cause major damage. However, in some situations, the hits leave fractures and hematomas. In that case, you should do the following:

  1. If there is no fracture and the injuries are mild, you only need to observe the vital signs and follow up for the next 2 hours, maybe it is dazed. If the symptom persists for a day, take him to the veterinarian.
  2. If there was a fracture, the blow will be serious. If it is a limb, you should splint his leg with gauze and a stick to fix the leg and take him to the vet.
  3. If there was a wing fracture, you must also use gauze and bandage to avoid movements that could affect the fracture. Finally, take him to the veterinarian.

If the fracture is in the skull or in another part of the body, take him immediately to the veterinarian.


Now, if the accident was not a blow but a wound from a cut with a sharp element or from a predator attack or a fight with other birds. In other cases, they can injure their nails, causing them to break. The procedure can be used for closed and open wounds.

  1. Take the bird and wrap it with a towel. I recommend that you cover the head to avoid pecking (except if the wound is on the head).
  2. Clean the wound with water, removing all the blood.
  3. Disinfect with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide using absorbent cotton when the wound is superficial, such as scrapes or shallow cuts. If the wound is deep, I advise you to use a physiological saline solution and apply it all over and around the wound. This type of saline is a solution of about 0.9% saline.
  4. Cover the wound with gauze and absorbent cotton for faster healing.
  5. If the wound is minor, you can use blasto-stimuli to speed healing.

This procedure works for wounds all over the body, except in areas such as the eyes or beak (mucous membranes), in this case just follow the first two steps to the letter. For cleaning and disinfection only use water and saline solution. Visit your veterinarian to prescribe an eye medication.


Burns can be problematic if you don’t have the appropriate elements. These are not the most common accidents, but pay attention to where you place your bird’s special space. How should you take care of this emergency?

  1. Take the bird and wrap it with a towel, do not forget to cover its head.
  2. Clean the wound with water.
  3. Disinfect the burn wound with astringent powder, a substance that helps fast healing (styptic). You can also use the saline solution on and around the wound.
  4. Cover the wound with gauze and absorbent cotton.

Internal injuries 

The bird may have internal lesions, which complicates things much more because it will be more difficult to identify its lesions, even if it is in obvious poor health. The bird may vomit, have loose stools, in some cases with blood, and be very droopy without showing any physical signs.

However, your bird could have suffered an accident by ingesting contaminated food or toxic substances, i.e., it might be intoxicated and you must take your friend to the veterinarian immediately. The animal could suffer internal burns, internal bleeding, or organic damage due to the ingestion of metals, alcohol, or chemicals and be at risk of death, so don’t wait!

In this case, it’s not worth performing procedures, just observe and skip first aid, and take him to a specialist.

5. Recovery as part of first aid for your bird 

After offering first aid and eventually taking your friend to the veterinarian, a recovery stage follows for the animal. In this case, you have two options, depending on your bird’s state of health.

  • If the injury was serious, you know. There is no other option, take him to the vet and wait until he recovers. After leaving the clinic, you will probably have to take care of him at home for a while while he recovers completely.
  • Otherwise, if the wound was minor and you gave him the proper attention, there are two situations:
  1. On the one hand, he recovers and all is well.
  2. On the other hand, if the first aid was not enough and his health does not evolve, follow the following advice…


It usually happens with minor wounds, sometimes they get worse and sometimes they evolve very well. Keep in mind that if a minor wound was treated with first aid, you should follow it up in a time interval of 1 to 3 days. Observe its evolution and if its health does not evolve, take it to the veterinarian.

Now you know how to act in an emergency situation that requires your knowledge of first aid. But, remember that the best method is prevention.