Administration of Medication in Birds: Injections

Key Points

  • Although injection techniques for avian patients are essentially the same as in other species, careful and efficient technical skills are required.
  • All injections are best delivered by the smallest gauge needle possible due to the relatively thin, delicate skin of the bird.
  • Intramuscular injections are typically administered into pectoral muscles along the mid-keel region. Hemorrhage is more likely to occur when injections are made into cranial pectoral musculature.
  • Subcutaneous injections can be administered into the inguinal, axillary, or interscapular regions.
  • In psittacine birds, intravenous injections are most commonly delivered into the right jugular vein and the basilic vein. The medial metatarsal vein may be more accessible in some large avian species.
  • When intravenous injection is impossible, injectable euthanasia agents can be administered via the intracoelomic or intraperitoneal route in the unconscious or anesthetized bird.

The avian patient poses special challenges for delivery of injectable medications. Although the techniques involved are not unique to birds, special knowledge of avian anatomy as well as delicate, proficient technical skills are required. Depending on the species, the individual, and the clinical situation, injections can be delivered by intramuscular, intravenous, intraosseous, subcutaneous, intratracheal, or intracoelomic routes. Parenteral drug administration provides the advantage of delivering a precise dose when a rapid therapeutic response is necessary. Disadvantages include stress as well as the potential irritation or pathology that can occur at the injection site . . .

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