As birds get older, they can develop a wide range of health problems, just like people can. One health problem that your older birds may face is arthritis. Here are three things you need to know about birds and arthritis.
What are the signs of arthritis?
If your bird develops arthritis, you'll notice that it doesn't want to fly anymore. You may also notice stiffness in your bird's wings or legs, and some of its joints may be swollen. Arthritic birds may lose their balance, so you may see your bird sitting on the floor of its cage, instead of on its perch.
Additional signs may also be present. Arthritic birds tend to develop pododermatitis (a foot infection), and may have sore, swollen feet. Affected birds may also become obese due to lack of movement. If you notice these signs, make sure to take your bird to a veterinarian right away.
How can your vet help?
First, your vet will need to perform tests to diagnose arthritis. Your vet will take X-rays of your bird's joints and then examine the images for signs of arthritis. If these signs are found, treatment can begin.
Many medications are available for birds with arthritis. Meloxicam, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is used to treat people with arthritis, has also been shown to work well in birds. Holistic treatments such as glucosamine supplements or even acupuncture can also be used to try to reduce your bird's inflammation.
How should you care for an arthritic bird?
There are many things you can do to make life easier for your arthritic bird. The first thing you should do is make modifications to its cage to make it more accessible. This can be done by rearranging toys, food bowls, and other items to make them closer together. Replace narrow perches with wider surfaces, and cushion these surfaces with fabric or other materials. If your bird often loses their balance and falls, add cushioning to the bottom of the cage so that it doesn't get hurt when it falls.
You may also need to protect your bird from its cage mates. Sick birds are vulnerable to bullying and may be chased away from their food and water or violently pecked by their healthy cage mates. If you notice this, separate your birds.
If you think your aging bird has developed arthritis, take it to an animal clinic right away. Arthritis is a chronic condition, but with your veterinarian's help, it can be managed.