Avian Respiratory Emergencies: An Approach to the Dyspneic Bird

Key Points

  • 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 . . .


To continue you need to be a LafeberVet.com member. (Français), (Español)

Pour continuer, vous devez être un membre LafeberVet.com

Para continuar, debe ser miembro de LafeberVet.com

Already a LafeberVet Member?

Please Login

Not Registered? Become a LafeberVet.com Member for Free.

The LafeberVet.com site is for use by veterinary professionals. It is open to licensed veterinarians, licensed veterinary technicians, licensed rehabilitators and students in these fields.

Create an account today for access to the site's articles and resources.