In veterinary practices, we often use mild sedation/anxiety medications (oral or injectable) in painful or stressed dogs and cats to assist with full exams, x-rays, ultrasounds, or mildly painful procedures. In birds, we generally need to manually restrain them for full exams, blood work, nail, beak, and wing trims. Manual restraint is stressful for all birds, negatively effects their experience at the clinic, predisposes them to trauma (for the bird and the restrainer) and increases their body temperature and heart rate. In sick birds or birds that are never handled, this can cause them to collapse. Historically, general gas anesthesia was used, but this has increased risks such as aspiration of crop contents or respiratory and cardiac depression.

Recently, we have started offering mild sedation/anxiety medication for pet bird exams which have greatly reduced stressed in all bird patients. Many exotic specialty practices and universities have been using the same protocol with great success. These medications are administered in the nares/nose of the bird. There are no painful injections needed. This causes birds to relax and allows us to do stress free exams and medical procedures. The bird is not fully sedated but is just a little sleepy. When we are done with the exam and any procedures or treatments needed, we give another medication in the nares/nose which reverses the sedation, and they are back to normal within minutes. This medication also has amnesia effects, so we have found that birds do not seem stressed when coming back to the clinic. It is also safe for most birds with underlying medical conditions as well. If you have any questions about the benefits of this sedation protocol for your bird, please feel free to give us a call.