Building a First Aid Kit

Proper preparation prevents poor performance. That’s something I learned long ago, and its still true for every bird owner. You should always have a well stocked avian First Aid kit handy as well as a small carrier or cage for emergency situations.

Whether you purchase a bird first aid kit that has already been assembled, or make one yourself, here are some items every first aid kit should include:

General Supplies and information
Container – A sturdy, medium sized, plastic tool or tackle box makes an ideal Avian First Aid Kit. Keep it located in an easily accessed location.
Towels – for wrapping and securing your bird.
Blunt ended Scissors – for cutting tape, bandages, strings and wire when birds become entangled.
Locking Forceps, Hemostat, or good Tweezers – These can be used to remove a broken blood feather.
Wire cutters – once again, birds are known to wrap themselves in chain and/or wire.
Nail clippers – to trim a broken or injured talon.
Flashlight and batteries or a  head-mounted light.
Magnifying glasses or “jewelers loop” – since birds are so small and delicate, a pair of magnifying glasses can come in handy for anyone trying to do detail work.
A Carrier or small Cage – A small cage or carrier can also be used as a hospital area for an injured bird.
First Aid Book – having a handy reference could be priceless.
Latex Gloves – to protect yourself
Phone Numbers – Your regular Vet as well as the local Emergency Clinic. Don’t forget to add the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435

Medical Supplies
Vet wrap
 – for wrapping broken bones, wings, or binding gauze pads to wounds.
Gauze – Bandages and pads
Cotton swabs and Q-tips – for cleaning or probing.
Styptic Powder, or other blood clotting agent – to stop bleeding from broken blood feathers or cuts. Avian blood has very few clotting agents in comparison to human/mammal blood. A bird can literally bleed to death from a broken blood feather.
Syringes for medicating or giving fluids
Sterile water – for flushing wounds or mixing with food
Spray Hydrogen Peroxide – for cleaning blood from feathers.
Dawn dishwashing liquid – for cleaning oily contamination.
Pedialyte (or generic equivalent)- for rehydrating a dehydrated bird.
Aloe Vera – for very minor burns.
Heating pad – Warm (not hot) heat can often mean the difference between life and death to a seriously injured bird.

Additional Supplies – for those who are more experienced you may want to add:
Popscicle sticks – for immobilizing broken legs
Ophthalmic ointment – for scratched eyes, minor conjunctivitis
Suturing materials (surgical needles and thread)
Gelfoam – stops bleeding from flesh wounds. Available from your veterinarian.
Tegaderm dressing – helps healing for burns and certain open wounds. Encourages granulation (healing/scabbing.)
Lactated Ringer’s solution – used for IV rehydrating of dehydrated avians and flushing wounds.
Betadyne or hibitane (chlorhexidine) – as non-irritating disinfectant.

Normal Values for a Small Bird
Temperature: 108 – 112 Fahrenheit
Pulse Rate: 600 – 800 bpm
Respiration: 75 – 100 respirations per minute

Normal Values for a Large Bird
Temperature: 108 – 112 Fahrenheit
Pulse Rate: 200 – 300 bpm
Respiration: 30 – 50 respirations per minute

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