First Aid For Birds – How To Treat A Bumblefoot Infection

Eagle owl

Pododermatitis, commonly known as “bumblefoot”, has become a frequently seen disease in companion and aviary birds. Pododermatitis is a general term for any inflammatory or degenerative condition of the avian foot. Pododermatitis may occur in any avian species, but is particularly problematic in permanently and temporarily captive birds, such as birds of prey, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, swans, waders, seabirds as well as canaries, finches, budgerigars and cockatiels.

Mute swan
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Treatment of Avian Pox


Most avian species are susceptible to one or more of the avian poxvirus strains and / or species. It has been reported that naturally occurring avian pox infections can affect about 60 species of wild birds, comprising 20 families. Poxviruses can be transmitted in a number of different ways. Even though they are unable to penetrate unbroken skin, small abrasions are sufficient to permit infection. The most common method of transmission is by means of biting insects such as mosquitos, mites, midges or flies. Many biting insects have been shown to be mechanical vectors only, transferring the virus from infected to susceptible birds by contamination of their skin-piercing mouthparts. Transmission can also occur directly by contact between infected and susceptible birds or by contact with contaminated objects, such as bird feeder perches. Aerosol transmission, although rare, can occur from viruses being carried along with dust, particularly in confined situations such as aviaries. At the time of year when vectors are at the highest numbers, avian pox transmission is greatest.1

Wood pigeon
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Alternative Treatment Options for Birds

Collared Dove

We are frequently being asked about alternative, natural and herbal treatment as well as cleaning options being suitable for the care and treatment of birds. Instead of repeatedly answering multiple individual questions, we have compiled the following blog post, which gives hopefully some useful examples. Please note that this list is not thought to be exhaustive.

Please note that all information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your veterinary surgeon, physician, herbologist or other health care professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem. Please always consult with a veterinary surgeon or healthcare professional before starting any new supplements or diet, before taking or applying any new medication, or if you suspect that your animal patient or you might have a health problem.

It is important to note that medicinal plants contain powerful, pharmacologically active compounds, which means in other words that plants contain drugs. Like drugs, herbal remedies should be used with caution. While the right herb may help your bird, the wrong one may prove toxic. If in doubt, please check with your veterinary surgeon or an experienced herbologist before giving your bird any herbs or alternative treatments. At many occasions the right herbal treatment might be all your animal patient needs to get better. However, at other occasions herbs may rather be a useful supplement complimenting conventional treatments prescribed by veterinary surgeons.

Rook fledgling Teal'c
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Jackdaw Jack Or How To Treat A Scissor Beak

Jackdaw Jack

Jack is a two year old imprinted jackdaw, who came to us in March 2017, having shown deficiency signs at the time of admission caused by an insufficient diet. Jack has been raised by his own and kept in a cage with occasional indoor free flight after being found as an orphan. It was only last year, when he has been joined by a fledgling carrion crow. Jack has also suffered of a condition called cross, crooked or scissor beak, in which the top and bottom beaks do not align properly. This can be caused by genetics, an injury or the inability to maintain the beak’s length and shape by normal honing on rocks or other hard surfaces. It is also thought that an improper hand feeding technique and an unbalanced diet play a role in the development of this beak deformity. 

Jackdaw Jack


A scissor beak needs frequent trimming, which has been done in Jack’s case carefully and gradually in several short sessions to allow the beak to regrow and reshape into a ‘normal beak’. However, this is not always possible and the success as well as relapse rate depends on many factors. In Jack’s case this has been achieved and the beak is now ‘maintenance free’ for more than three months. Apart from a balanced diet, it is also important to provide any bird with the means to ‘use’ the beak sufficiently, to enable the bird to strengthen the facial muscles and to allow natural wear and tear. Rotten tree stems, pebbles, bricks, rocks, shells, wooden toys, cuttle fish bone and marrow bone dog biscuits are only a few of suitable toys and tools, which help to keep a beak in a good shape and a jackdaw well entertained. Achieving the ‘perfect’ shape of the beak through trimming is obviously important and the prerequisite to solve the scissor beak problem. However, if a scissor beak persist for long, muscles will get atrophic, meaning they become shorter than normal, which can pull even a well shaped beak out of alignment resulting in the beak to continue to grow in an asymmetric fashion. This is why all beak trimming sessions do also involve some degree of physiotherapy to counteract problems caused by muscle atrophy. 

Jackdaw Jack