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Your Budgie's Health Learn about avian health and vet care. This forum does not substitute for veterinary expertise.
Thread Description:My very stressful vet visit

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Old 01-22-2015, 04:01 AM
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Exclamation Portable Cautery Pen Used To 'Trim' Beak

Some of you may recognize me from other threads here talking about one of my parent's parakeets Peepers, who has later stage liver disease which causes his beak to grow excessively fast. Well in this continuing issue I experienced a vet visit which I don't think I want to repeat.

The avian specialist vet which we originally started taking Peepers to is about 40 minutes away by highway, so when we found out that there was a vet more than halfway as close to us, we thought to give them a shot to try and reduce the stress of travel (our original vet people said they could be a viable alternative). They have two vets there who see birds, not specifically avian specialists though.

When we were in the exam room, I told the doctor (who was an older gentlemen) about Peeper's medical history and to his credit the doctor seemed very knowledgeable about parakeets. He said that he prefers an electro cautry pen to 'trim' the beak as if there is any bleeding it automatically stops it. THIS is what the device looked like.

So he precedes to use a tongue depressor to get Peepers's tongue away, turns on the cautery pen, and basically uses it to slice through Peepers's beak. I'm freaking out because one small move and the bird's tongue could be gone. Worse yet, while it did work good, the sides of the beak were still at angles so he then used a large dremel tool to sand them down, which caused Peepers's beak to start bleeding. He applied some silver nitrate which stopped the bleeding, however when the assistant put Peepers back in the cage I swore he was going to have a heart attack and die the way he was panting so hard and lurched over.

I made sure we sat there and let him rest for a long time before we started the drive back home. Once we did, I got him and his cagefriend back in their main cage and by then he had almost completely calmed down. I was seriously stressed out by the whole ordeal and my mom is contacting our avian specialist to see if she's ever heard of this procedure being done.

I need to know if anyone else has seen or experienced this tool being used before. I tried doing some forums searches for this threads about this type of tool however I only found THIS topic about it and the replies didn't fill me with much confidence. I also thought the dremel tool was major overkill as well.

I would appreciate as much feedback and information as I can get for this.


Last edited by godzfire; 01-22-2015 at 04:06 AM.
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Old 01-22-2015, 06:28 AM
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Awww! Poor little Peepers! I don't have any experience with a cautery pen and honestly,I don't want to... My vet used a regular nail clipper to trim Milan's beak and she stopped as soon as a little drop of blood appeared on the tip of his beak. Just a few minutes later he was his old self again...
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Old 01-22-2015, 06:39 AM
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I had to have this done to a cockatiel about 20 years ago. I had bought the baby in for hand raising from a breeder friend and its bottom beak was seriously overgrown and protruding over the top beak. This bird would never have been able to eat for himself. While he was being hand raised it was not a problem but he was 4 1/2 to 5 weeks old and ready to start weaning. The bottom beak had to be trimmed way back and would have bled very badly, badly enough to kill him. So the vet had to cauterize it. They were very good, took their time over doing it so they could get a good shape. At the time I was using a syringe to hand raise and I had to learn how to use a crop needle very quickly so that I would not damage the beak when I fed him. The baby did not stress, but then he was used to being handled with him being fed 3 times a day by a human. The operation was a complete success and he weaned totally normally with the rest of his siblings. I never had a problem with his beak after that time either.
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Old 01-22-2015, 06:44 AM
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Your story made me feel so sick I couldn't finish reading it the first time. I felt as though I were reading a story of animal abuse.

I re-read the whole post and I'm still very disturbed by it. I'm surprised your bird didn't die right then and there in the vet's office. I have no idea what avian vets normally use, but if the cautery pen caused your bird to keel over, then is that really the best method? I can't imagine so -- especially when your bird is already weakened by liver disease.

I have used toenail clippers to trim a long beak caused by liver disease. The edges of the beak were a bit "crumbly" and were easy to trim. Although neither the bird nor I enjoyed the experience, the trimming didn't take long and she recovered fairly quickly.

Last edited by SusanBudgies; 01-23-2015 at 05:00 PM.
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Old 01-23-2015, 04:55 PM
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Man, the vet definitely shouldn't have cut his beak to the point where it bled. From what I understand, you have to "train" the beak like dog nails. When a dog has severely overgrown nails, you don't just chop them off to the desirable length. You clip them to a centimeter or two from the quick. You keep doing that regularly until the quick has naturally become much shorter.

I don't know a lot about beak trimming, but I think he should have used clippers and only clipped a little off the end, then used a small, fine Dremel to shape it and "trim" it a bit more. He should have only trimmed the "dead" part of the beak, not the living part. Also, if it was quite overgrown and it couldn't be completely trimmed safely in one go, he should of have you come back a week or so later so he could trim it further.
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Old 01-23-2015, 05:33 PM
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Unfortunately Robyn birds don't use their nails to eat. If the beak is badly formed then sometimes it needs a radical trim so they don't starve. I have had some cockatoos brought to me that had beak and feather disease and this will cause beak deformities. These are wild birds and not tame or friendly and we have occasionally had to do some radical surgery to enable them to eat. Not a hope of crop feeding a bird like this as not only are they too wild I don't have a crop needle long enough to get into their crop safely while they are struggling. Syringe feeding is also not an option with them. The longest crop needle made is around 7 inches and that was a special manufacturer that I had to have made and it is really awkward to use. These birds are often put under anasthetic to have this done, but it needs to be done very quickly as once the mask is taken off their head they start coming round, so cauterizing is often the only option.
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Old 01-23-2015, 09:07 PM
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To clear up some stuff:

1) Peepers's beak structure is completely normal, proper top and bottom layout. The issue is that due to the liver disease it grows much quicker than normal and thus requires constant clipping every 3-4 weeks.

2) The beak did not bleed when the vet used the electro-cautery tool to do the trimming. It only occurred when he attempted to even out the sides with the dremel.

3) I don't know if the 'quick/blood vessels' of the upper beak grow longer if the beak stays longer as well. That's one of the questions I'm hoping someone here can answer.


The avian specialist at our regular vet got back to my mom regarding the questions I had asked her. This was her answer: "There is nothing wrong with electrocautery and dremmel for beak trims, I personally don't do that in the small birds (the equipment can be bulky and the patients are small...) but it is definitely appropriate."

I'm conflicted with the electrocautery because on one hand, the procedure is very quick, and if a blood vessel is hit, it's immediately stopped in the process due to the heat. On the other hand, even though the vet used a depressor to physically separate the tongue and beak, one false move and the bird could have lose part of the tongue, then again, the same could be said for clipping via a nail clipper.

Unfortunately this is a no win situation for us because I don't know if I trust the way the vet that's 1/2 closer to us uses, however since my parents are the one who have the bird, it's much more time consuming for them and a longer drive for the birds (his cagefriend comes along to calm him), going to our normal vet, especially it being every 3 weeks.

Right now we're just trying to figure out what our plan is going to be. Ideally I'd like to get it to where I can just do small beak trims at my parents house with me doing the clipping and my mom holding. That way there's no travel needed and Peepers is in familiar surroundings, much much less stressful on him, and in the end that's what is most important to me.
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Old 01-23-2015, 10:14 PM
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Yes; I think the blood vessel will grow into the longer beak.

I like your last idea to do the trims yourself, so long as Peepers can shell seeds normally despite his longer beak.
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Old 01-24-2015, 12:10 AM
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I prefer the home method as well. The only issue is getting mom to learn how to properly hold him and of course me having the trim. It's definitely stressful since I don't want to harm him.

He has pellets and has never had an issue eating.
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Old 01-24-2015, 03:37 PM
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Yes,the blood vessels are growing aswell. I already wrote that in your other thread.
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