- Signs of dyspnea in the avian patient include open-mouth breathing, increased sternal motion, and tail bobbing.
- The dyspneic patient often benefits from humidifed air and 40% to 50% oxygen.
- Tracheal obstruction is associated with acute onset of inspiratory and expiratory dyspnea, and is best managed short-term by air sac cannulation.
- Important causes of tracheal disease are aspergillosis and seed inhalation.
- Aspergillosis and chlamydiosis are important causes of pneumonia and air sacculitis. Onset is generally insidious, however subtle, non-specific signs of illness are often missed. Patients can present with dyspnea and prolonged expiration. Treatment frequently includes systemic therapy and nebulization.
- Air sac compression caused by extrathoracic problems such as hepatomegaly is another important cause of respiratory compromise.
- Low humidity and exposure to inhalant irritants such as strong fumes or cigarette smoke are important risk factors causing respiratory tract inflammation.
- Survey radiography is a valuable diagnostic tool, particularly in medium to large-sized parrots. Additional diagnostic testing may include cytology, culture, endoscopy, hematology, and serum biochemistry.
- Upper respiratory tract disease is common, but rarely a cause of dyspnea.
After recognizing a dyspneic bird, the clinician’s initial response should be: Hands Off!! Dyspneic birds can die soon after presentation with the additional stress of restraint and handling. Therefore minimize handling and place the bird in an oxygen-rich cage. Humidify air and provide 40 to 50% oxygen. As in mammals, oxygen therapy is potentially toxic if given for prolonged periods at high levels . . .
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