Presenting problem: Hemorrhage in Birds

Is the bird actively bleeding?

When a bird is presented for bleeding such as broken blood feather, it is important to distinguish between frank hemorrhage and blood on the cage or bird without active bleeding. Hemorrhage that has stopped is best left undisturbed initially, while active bleeding requires immediate intervention by applying firm, steady pressure.

 

Video


Video produced by Dr. M. Scott Echols and narrated by Dr. Susan Orosz.

 

Key points of urgent care

Apply firm, steady pressure (no peeking!) for at least a couple of minutes. For tiny patients, use of a cotton-tipped applicator can be helpful.

If direct pressure is insufficient to control bleeding, apply a hemostatic agent such as ferric subsulfate. A pressure wrap may also be necessary. The use of hand-held or radiosurgical cautery under general anesthesia may also be indicated. In the rare instance when bleeding continues, consider vitamin K administration and testing for liver disease.

Provide analgesia such as meloxicam (0.2-0.5 mg/kg PO, IM, SC q12-24h) and/or butorphanol (1-4 mg/kg IM q6-12h).

 

Case management

Clean wounds once bleeding is controlled and the patient is stable. Provide supportive care in the form of fluids, or more rarely blood transfusion, as well as nutritional support.

  • Management of beak trauma will vary with the type of injury that occurs.
  • For bleeding toenails, bar soap or flour may work well in the home. For management of more severe lesions, remove the distal portion of the broken toenail and use hemostatic agents or cautery. After gentle cleaning or lavage, protect exposed tissues with acrylic or tissue glue. Cover the lesion with a light, padded wrap.