Daily Care and Grooming
Online Veterinary Education Library
Our team of specialists and staff strive to improve the overall health of our clients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with your pet's health. Please use our educational library to learn more about health problems and treatments available for your pet. If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, contact us.
Water and food bowls should be cleaned daily with hot water and soap. Because of drippings and fecal matter, remove paper liner and replace with fresh paper every one-to-three days. Once a week, clean the entire cage thoroughly. You may need to disinfect the cage once or twice a year as well. Be sure to rinse off all disinfectants thoroughly to prevent exposure of these toxins to your pet.
For a small bird, gently grab the bird by cupping both hands around it or hold it around the bulk of its body with one hand. For larger birds, place one hand below the lower belly and the other supporting the back. Always handle your bird carefully. Don't hold it too tightly and be careful of its feet. Once you've trained your bird, it can perch on your finger or shoulder.
Birds love to bathe. They are also susceptible to dry, itchy skin and can collect pollutants in their feathers. Bathing keeps birds' feathers and skin healthy and spreads their natural oils. You should provide your pet bird with access to water for splashing around in at least once a week. Only bathe a bird in daytime hours so that birds are dry before going to sleep. When the weather is cool, don't bathe your bird too often unless you can keep it warm afterwards, such as with a heat lamp. Use a spray bottle and plain, tepid water to spray a mist on your bird from above. If the bird spreads his wings, puts his head down and shakes around, he likes it. After the bath, your bird will fluff up his feathers and spend a lengthy period of time picking at them until every feather is in the exact right place. When the weather is very warm, you can soak your bird a couple times a week, which is good for the skin. Never use a blow-dryer on your bird. Many blow dryers use nonstick coatings that can be toxic to your pet.
Some parrots like to take a shower with their owners or just enjoy the steam and moisture on their skin. If your bird is reluctant to bathe, place a flat plastic or ceramic dish with green vegetables in the water flow. Let the bird come to the water on its own. Don't use soap on a bird unless there is oil on the feathers. In that case, use only glycerin soap and rinse the bird thoroughly. If your bird is a frequent feather plucker, you can buy bathing products at any pet shop that contain ingredients which will soothe the skin, such as aloe. Be careful when using these products, though, because they can irritate your bird's eyes.
Don't be alarmed if your bird looks like it is shivering after a bath. Parrots contract their chest muscles rapidly and repeatedly after bathing to create body heat. This is a perfectly normal response.
Wing clipping is a painless procedure in which the bird's main flight feathers are trimmed. This prevents large birds from flying into objects or inaccessible cubbyholes in a restricted spaces or flying too high outside. Smaller birds only need to have their wings clipped as young birds. They can grow their flight feathers out after the first juvenile molt because they are less likely to damage themselves. Wing clipping protects birds from making crash landings, but still allows them to float comfortably to the ground. Wing clipping also supports the taming and training processes. You can learn the proper technique for trimming your bird's flight feathers or ask a veterinarian to do it for you.
Periodically, birds need to have their nails trimmed and also might require a beak trimming. Different species of birds have different tendencies related to the growth of their beaks. Some can become too thick. Others grow too elongated or overgrow. It is important for a bird's beak to be maintained symmetrically for chewing and overall health purposes. Incorporating a cement perch in the cage and giving your bird plenty of toys to chew on may keep its beak in good shape. Ask your vet whether your bird's beak needs trimming and how frequently. There are special tools available from pet stores for trimming a bird's beak and nails. However, if you feel uncomfortable about these tasks, a vet can do them for you.