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Give them wings

Unfortunately, there are very few vets in this country that know anything about birds. So, if you are foolish enough to keep a bird in a cage, then you should do some reading.

Give them wings
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How should I treat leg paralysis in birds?

The causes of paralysis differ, depending on your bird and his/her age or health status. It usually affects the legs either in one or both limbs, rendering your bird helpless. Some birds can recover in a few days, others take much longer, or they may even succumb to the disease that caused it.

Unfortunately, there are very few vets in this country that know anything about birds. So, if you are foolish enough to keep a bird in a cage, then you should do some reading. A vet might be able to rule out certain diseases or deficiencies and then make an analysis of the remaining facts and symptoms.

It is easier to treat a disease in its initial stages than to try and attack it once it has established itself. Your veterinarian or avian specialist will examine your bird and ask about its history. They will want to know the type of home your bird has (aviary or cage, indoor or outdoor), whether any other birds are showing signs of paralysis, and what type of diet your bird is on.

Sometimes, it can just be limited access to natural sunlight, causing a nutritional deficiency (Vitamin D). Birds on the same diet may also have malnutrition in some vital areas. Diagnosis is made by excluding other causes of the disease. Tests for viral or disease footprints will allow him to determine what is causing your birds' suffering. Often radiography, hematology, faecal smears and other such tests will be done to determine the cause.

The treatment will vary depending on the cause of your bird's condition, but even more so it will depend on the health or visible symptoms that are apparent. In a lot of cases, the exact cause is unknown, so treatment begins with treating obvious signs such as infections. Broad spectrum antibiotics can cure a bacterial cause. A change of diet and added supplements can help build up a weakened immune system or nutritional deficiency.

Adding full spectrum lamps to provide healthy UVA and UVB rays during winter can help your bird. Corticosteroids and vitamin injections may be required or fluid therapy during the first 24-48 hours by injection may help.

If your bird's foot is clenched, the veterinarian may suggest exercising the foot by gently stretching it open to its normal shape, then moving the legs around as though it was bicycling. This may help the limb to restore the blood flow and get the leg moving again. There is no known 'paralysis' cure, it is a matter of excluding other causes and then making a treatment to suit the remaining facts. For some birds that are totally paralysed, you have to consider the quality of life and make the decision, it may or may not be kinder to put the bird to sleep. If it is an aggressive disease, supportive care is the only solution.

Some birds can recover fully in a few days or weeks. Your bird may remain with a clenched foot due to the paralysis, and it can live a relatively normal life. Birds tend to accept things and get on with life, and to date, there are no relevant studies on how long a bird with a clenched foot will live.

(Views expressed and information provided are personal. Send your questions to manekaanimallove@gmail.com)

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