In Sickness and in Health

Since I am neither an expert nor a vet, this page is meant more to guide you in your quest for sustaining the health of these wondrous creatures we take into our homes. We are responsible for their safety and well being.

There are many good sites on the internet explaining different avian diseases, treatments, tests and for many of these I will include links that I found informative. I would just like to make a few basic points and briefly mention some of the major diseases.

Environmental

Some things that can contribute to the wellness of our birds are very easily controlled by us. The cleanliness of their enviroment, their food and water and toxic fumes.

One of the most common toxic fumes which can be deadly to your bird, are the fumes from overheated non-stick coatings. These are on frying pans, baking pans, bread makers, some irons, some toaster etc. etc. To see what the Enviromental Working group had to say about non-stick coatings please read Executive Summary

The fumes from air freshners, carpet cleaners, fabric coatings, paint, cleansers can also all be toxic to our birds. Before using a new product, do your utmost to check for any hazards that may be connected to the product. Ask questions.

Now, I am quite sure that none of us would be happy living in an enclosed room that is full of our body wastes. Why would we imagine a bird would be happy in a dirty cage? Not only would they not be happy, it could also lead to disease. Old feces are a great place for bacteria to grow, and that old food on the cage bottom will not only harbour bacteria, but will also mold and create fungus. So I guess my number one point would be "Keep their houses clean!"

My next consideration would be their water and water dish. With so many of us Canadians living in rural areas and depending upon well water, I think it is very important to have your water tested from time to time to make sure the quality has not been compromised. Some water just is not suitable to be used. It is not hard to buy bottled water for the birds, if there is any doubt about your water quality. Also, PVC pipe, which is used in most newer houses for water lines, is known to harbour or contribute to bacteria. If your house has pvc lines, make sure you let the water run for several minutes before filling those water dishes. This will flush the standing water out of the lines, and any bacteria that may have been forming in that standing water. Make sure you wash the water dish before filling it. Clean water will do no good in a dirty dish. And how often should that water be changed? Of course, this could vary slightly with different birds but think to yourself how long you would let a glass of water sit on your table and you still drink it. My guess is, if it sat there all day, you wouldn't drink the water. I think fresh water is nice morning and evening. Of course, if your bird just loves making soup with it's food and water, you may have to change it more often. Sometimes, moving the water dish farther away from the food dish will help with this, but not always. Some birds just want to soak their foods.

Food is always a contentious issue with birdlovers. Everyone has the 'perfect' diet. Personally, I am still trying to find what the perfect diet really is but I have learned that variety is very important. My own theory is that birds know what their body requirements are (this is if we are NOT talking about a seed junkie. Assuming it is a bird that will already eat a variety of foods) . If you are feeding vitamin A rich foods, some days you will see your birds really eating them and then after a while, you will find these foods being neglected. I think they know that Vitamin A isn't a need at this time. All this would mean though, is that we have to ensure we are supplying all the vitamins and minerals that could be needed and to do this, variety is very important. Knowing what the different foods supply (ie. vitamins & minerals) therefore becomes an important consideration. Here is a list of just a few food items and where they fit in the scheme of vitamins.

Vit. A
Sweet Potatoes, Squash, Broccoli, Carrots, Spinach, Apricots, Red Chili Peppers. Dandelion leaves, Cantaloupe

Vit. B 1
Almonds, Green Peas, Pecans, Lentils, Red Kidney Beans, Sesame Seeds
Vit. B 2
Broccoli, Almonds, Spinach, Cheddar Cheese
Vit. B 6
Banana, Corn, Squash, Egg Yolks
Vit. C
Broccoli, Oranges, Cantaloupes, Pears, Mangos, Cherry Tomatoes, Green & Jalenpeno Peppers, Papaya, Kiwi
Vit. E
Sweet Potatoes, Walnuts, Almonds, Eggs
Vit. K
Cabbage, Broccoli, Spinach, Green & Black-eye Peas, Eggs, Green Beans, Turnip Greens
Iron
Pumpkin seeds, Almonds, Lentils , Spinach , Lima Beans
Zinc
Pasta, Brown rice, Eggs
Potassium
Cantaloupe, Squash, Oranges, Bananas, Potatoe, Lima Beans
Calcium
Turnip Greens, Navy beans, Broccoli, Almonds

Anyway, that gives you a start. There is a website that lists the nutritional contents of different foods. You just enter the food name into the search and it will give you the info USDA Nutrition and here is a site where you can purchase a good sprout mix, or a bean mix in Canada Sprouting.

If you want to know more about what I feed my birds go to my Food page

So remember, for a start, fresh good water, clean dishes and good food will go a long way in helping to keep your bird healthy.

CBC (Complete Blood Count)

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