Budgie struggles too much when giving syringe medication
Hey all. My little budgie Skittles was prescribed an antibiotic from the vet to be taken by beak twice a day. I'm having a real hard time getting her to take it. She's hand tamed but absolutely hates being held. Getting her in my hand is no problem, but she struggles a LOT. She also jerks her head around a lot and that makes it very difficult to get droplets from the syringe in her beak. It usually just ends up on the feathers around the beak, the beak itself, and the cere.
I'm not really sure what to do about keeping her head still because I don't want to crush her. I've looked up video tutorials of how to hold a budgie for giving syringe medication but in all the videos the budgie cooperates enough for its head to stay still. Does anyone have any advice on how to hold her?
Take your index and middle fingers and place them on either side of her neck, then stretch them until her neck is fully extended. That should keep her head from moving around so much. https://lafeber.com/vet/parrot-handling/
Giving oral meds can be a challenge, one of my birds is impossible for me to medicate with any of the standard techniques so this is what I have done with her and it works the best for her. First I prepare the syringe with the medicine, then I take her out of the cage with a cloth while the room is fairly dark, she is naturally upset so I sit down and let her sit on my leg while I am still restraining her enough that she cannot fly away, after a minute or so while she is still sitting on my leg, I am able to gently restrain the movement of her head and get her beak open enough to get in meds in. I then place her back in her cage with the lights still dim and let her relax before turning on the usual lights.
I find holding small birds in a cloth much more stressful than in my bare hand. I can't feel how tightly I am holding them accurately enough for my own peace of mind, so they can wriggle about much more than is necessary. The feeling that they may be able to escape increases their stress and the more the struggle the more stressful it gets.
I do as Hunterkat suggests, it is the usual way of holding a small bird so it is safe and can be treated quickly and quietly with minimal fuss. If the birds is not tame or doesn't like the medication then quickly and calmly is the best option for you both. Using your index and middle finger to support the head means you can accurately administer the meds with care.
With birds as small as budgies, it's more easy to have aspiration of the meds occur due to giving the liquid in the amount that gets into the windpipe. This is a reason that people trying to raise a baby bird should never give the bird water while they are being hand fed.
Since most meds are liquidy, when I've done this (similar to Cody's method). I'm right handed but transfer bird to left hand and hold the bird so it's sitting on my knee. Being care that the bird can breath but enclosing it except for the thumb and index finger so the head it just sticking out (you should practice this several times). The birds feet are holding onto you pants with its feet and you're just enclosing it with your hand. Using the dropper or syringe, the bird with often peck at the dropper and letting the meds out slowly, the bird will generally peck at the intruder object and swallow what he gets from the liquid.
Allow enough time to see that he gets at least some of the meds. Aspiration is serious and this method is the least restraining and from my experience, seems to work safely on small birds. With larger birds, often more restraint is needed and big parrots have beaks that would ruin your day with hand injuries. Most people can tough it out with most budgie bites. Good luck.
Thank you tonic and phil! Now I understand better why using a towel makes me feel so uneasy. And I'm definitely going to try the method of having her sit on my knee.
It's just stressful because I still feel so inexperienced as a budgie owner. I hold her and see and hear how she struggles. The jerky movements and the sounds she makes. It makes it hard to know if she's just angry at me or if I'm really hurting her. It stresses me out... I just want my baby to get better and it worries me that I'm somehow going to make her worse or injure her.