Common Drugs and Dosage Used in Treating Pigeons
Common Drugs and Dosage Used in Treating Pigeons
This information is presented as reference material on treatments. Always consult a trained medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment instructions.
Establishment of a proper diagnosis before treatment begins is extremely important. Shotgun treatment often produces poor results, delays recovery to when the proper drug is finally found, and often produces drug-resistant bacteria and parasites. We cannot stress strongly enough, in the case of antibiotics, that a culture and sensitivity be done to make sure the antibiotic used is needed and effective. Just because a drug is noted to be effective against many cases of E. coli infection doesn't mean it is effective against all cases. More and more drug-resistant bacteria occur every day and can best be treated when proper diagnostics are used first.
Many of the drugs give you a dosage range. This is done for 2 reasons:
1. The lower dose may be used in mild infections but the higher dose may be needed in more severe infections.
2. Since most drugs are given in the water, the amount of the drug a pigeon gets varies with how much water he drinks. We assumed that in hot weather 30 birds drink a gallon (4 litres) per day and in cold weather 60 birds drink a gallon per day. The low dose is figured on the 30 bird/day consumption level and the high dose on the 60 bird/day consumption level. This is a very important principle to keep in mind with the more toxic drugs such as dimetridazole (Emtryl).
It is important to give the drug for the proper length of time. Failure to do so often results in poor response, relapse of the disease after the drug is stopped, and production of resistant strains of organisms.
Measurements and Equivalents
1 gram 1000 milligrams (mg)
1 cubic centimeter (cc) 1 milliliter (mL)
5 cc 1 teaspoon
15 cc 1 tablespoon
30 cc 1 ounce
1000 cc 1 litre
8 oz 1 cup
2 cups 1 pint
2 pints 1 quart
4 quarts 1 gallon
Examples of Methods to Convert Drug Dosages into Teaspoons
To treat a respiratory problem in your birds, you buy a package of antibiotic powder. The label says that the total weight of the package is 100 grams, and that each gram contains 500 milligrams (mg) of antibiotic. How do you translate that amount into teaspoons?
Example 1 : Firstly pour out the powder onto a clean surface and with a teaspoon, measure out the number of level teaspoons of product in the package.
The label on this package of antibiotic says that each gram contains 500 mg of antibiotic. As an example only, assume you find that there are 20 level teaspoons of powder making up this . This means that each level teaspoon contains 5 grams of product (100÷20 = 5). Now we know that each gram of product contains 500 milligrams of antibiotic, so now we know that each level teaspoon contains 2500 milligrams of antibiotic (5 x 500), half a teaspoon contains 1250 mg, and so on.
Assume that the correct dosage of this antibiotic for pigeons ranges from 1500-3000 mg per gallon (4 liters) for 7-10 days.
Note : the lower dose of 1500 mg is used in warm weather when the birds drink more water, and the higher 3000 mg level is used in colder weather when birds drink less.
So in hot weather, you would use a level of 1500 mg which is between 1/2 and 3/4 of a teaspoon for 4 liters of water. Depending on the season, you can use levels of this antibiotic in between the range of 1500-3000 mg in 4 liters of water.
Example 2 : You buy a 400 gram package of powder that contains two antibiotics, one of which is Chlortetracycline, also known as Aureomycin, a tetracycline-class of antibiotic; the label indicates that this 400 grams of powder contains 80 grams of Aureomycin. How many teaspoons of this powder do you use to treat a respiratory condition?
When you measure out the number of level teaspoons in this package, you find that there are 80 teaspoons of powder ( this is a fictitious example only).
Since there are 80 grams of Aureomycin in 80 level teaspoons, each teaspoon contains 1 gram of Aureomycin (80 grams divided by 80 teaspoons), which is the same as 1000 mg of Aureomycin per teaspoon (see table, page 2).
The dosage of Aureomycin for pigeons is 600-1500 mg for 4 liters of water for 7-14 days. Once again, use the lower dosage during warm weather and the higher dosage during colder weather. In this case, for practical convenience, you could use 1 level teaspoon (1000 mg) of product for 4 liters of water, a compromise between 600 and 1500 mg, during warm weather.
Note: For best results in treating respiratory conditions, it is a good idea to combine the tetracycline class of antibiotics with a full dose of tylosin as well.
Example 3 : You buy an antibiotic as a liquid. One example of such a liquid is a liter of a 10% solution of Baytril. A 10% solution means that there are 10 grams of Baytril in every 100 cc. There are 20 teaspoons in 100 cc (see chart), so there is ½ a gram (10÷20) or 500 mg of Baytril in each teaspoon. The dosage of Baytril for pigeons is 150-600 mg for 4 liters of water for 7-14 days. On a practical basis, in warm weather, you can use ½ teaspoon (250 mg) for 4 liters of water, and in colder weather, use 1 teaspoon for 4 liters of water.
You may be able to buy a 50 cc bottle of injectable Baytril from a veterinarian. Each cc of solution contains 50 mg of Baytril. In warm weather use 1 teaspoon of drug (250 mg) for 4 liters of water; in cold weather use 2 teaspoons (500 mg) in 4 liters of water.
Baytril ( Enrofloxacin): This is a "best choice" for treating paratyphoid (salmonellosis). Baytril is a broad spectrum antibiotic with excellent penetrance into different tissues. Dose: 5 mg per pigeon per day in divided doses; 250 mg per gallon (4 liters). When treating paratyphoid, treat for 10 days.
NOTE : Baytril tablets do not dissolve in water. Use only water-soluble liquid when flock treating in water. Tablets are fine for individual bird treatment - 1/2 of a 15 mg tablet twice daily.
SaraFlox (Sarafloxacin hydrochloride): Similar to Baytril, it is available as a water-soluble powder marketed for poultry. Available in 5.1 oz (15 gm) packets.
Dose : 1 tsp per gallon (4 liters).
Amoxicillin : An excellent broad spectrum antibiotic. Often good against Salmonella, E. coli, Strep. & Staph. species of bacteria.
Dose : 50 mg per pigeon per day in divided doses. 3 grams (3000 mg) per gallon (4 liters). Treat for 5-10 days.
Cephalexin : Another excellent broad spectrum antibiotic. Use like amoxicillin; it has a slightly broader anti-bacterial spectrum than amoxicillin. Dosed same as amoxicillin.
Trimethoprim/sulfa : A good combination product, when bacteria are sensitive to it. We are seeing more resistant bacteria to this drug.
Dose : 30 mg per pigeon per day – 1500 mg per gallon (4 liters) for 7-14 days.
Nitrofurans (NFZ, Furacin, etc.): A broad spectrum antibacterial, with some anti-coccidial properties. Seems to work better in a test tube than it does in the pigeon. Not one of my favorites, but sometimes useful.
Dose : 1 tsp NFZ per gallon (4 liters) for 5-7 days.
Erythromycin (Gallimycin): A narrow spectrum antibiotic. Use limited to respiratory infections, especially those caused by Mycoplasma species. Difficult to achieve blood levels because crop bacteria break it down readily.
Dose : 50 mg per pigeon per day - 1.5 to 3 grams per gallon (1500 - 3000 mg per 4 liters of water) for 7-10 days.
Lincomycin : Similar to Erythromycin. Same dosage.
Tylosin : Similar to, but generally more effective than Erythromycin and Lincocin. Dosed same as Erythromycin. It is very effective against coryza (respiratory infections) when combined with tetracyclines (use a full dose of each).
Tetracyclines [Tetracycline, Chlortetracycline (Aureomycin);
Oxytetracycline (Terramycin): Most effective against respiratory infections - especially when combined with t ylosin. Occasionally these antibiotics will control more serious infections - but only a low percentage unless an antibiotic sensitivity has confirmed their effectiveness.
Dose : 60-75 mg per pigeon per day – 600 -1500 mg per 4 liters for 7-14 days.
Doxycycline : Another tetracycline - listed separately because birds eliminate it more slowly, allowing for less frequent administration and lower dosages.
Dose : 10-50 mg per pigeon per day – 500 -1000 mg per 4 liters of water. Excellent antibiotic.
NOTE: When using tetracyclines, remove calcium sources such as grit, oyster shell, mineral, etc., since the calcium ties up the drug and makes it unavailable.
Amprolium (Corid, Amprol): An excellent drug of choice for coccidiosis. Must be used for 3 to 5 days to be effective. Avoid using vitamins while treating, but use them for 1-2 days after treatment is finished. Dose: 1 tsp (20% powder) per gallon.
Toltazuril (Baycox): A very potent coccidiostat. Not yet approved in USA.
Dose : l mL per liter (4cc per gallon –100 mg per gallon) for 2 days.
Sulfonamides : Some sulfas are more effective than others. Sulfadimethoxine is probably the most effective. Dose: Use for 5 days. 1250 mg per 4 litres.
Drugs used against Trichomonas (Canker) and Hexamita
All these drugs, except Spartrix, must be administered for 3-5 days or more in the drinking water; although metronidazole ( Flagyl ) can be dosed individually for 1-2 days and is at least as effective as Spartrix. Ronidazole ( Ridsol ) is the safest product (more is needed to produce toxic effects). Overdose of Emtryl or Flagyl can occur more easily. Toxic levels produce central nervous signs which usually reverse after discontinuance, but can result in death.
Dimetridazole (Emtryl): 3/4 tsp per gallon (4 litres) for 5-7 days (Canadian Emtryl – 40% water-soluble powder). You can use this dosage for 1-2 days early in the week, eg. Sun-Mon, every 2-3 weeks throughout the race season.
Ronidazole (Ridsol): 400 mg per gallon - 2 tsp per gallon (4 liters). Use 5 days before the season and for 2 days every 2 weeks throughout the season.
Metronidazole (Flagyl): 25-50 mg per pigeon per day - 1250-2500 mg per gallon (4 liters) for 4-6 days.
Carnidazole (Spartrix): One 10 mg tablet per pigeon preferably on empty crop. Not as effective as treatment in drinking water.
These drugs, at the doses given only suppress Haemoproteus and are not curative. They may be curative against Plasmodial malaria in pigeons. This is an acute syndrome causing acute anemia. Antimalarials must be dosed for 28 days prior to racing to fully suppress Haemoproteus. Follow up, through the races, with treatment 1-2 days each week.
Primaquine (Aralen) : Irregularly available. 1-2 tablets per gallon for 10-21 days before the race season, the 1-2 days weekly.
Quinacrine (Atabrine): 200 mg per 4 litres. 1½ - 3 tablets per 4 litres for 10-21 days, then 1-2 days each week.
Chloroquine : 500 mg per 4 litres.
Ivermectin (Ivomec, Eqvalen): Broad spectrum wormer. Effective against Ascarids (roundworms), Capillaria (hairworms), and stomach wall worms. Some resistance developing.
Dose : 500 -1000 ug per bird. Can be dosed in the drinking water, but the efficacy of this method is debatable. The surest way is to treat the pigeons individually. 1-2 drops by mouth of Ivomec is the correct dose. The higher dosage is needed to treat roundworms and, for some reason, even this is occasionally ineffective. New generation avermectins such as Moxidectin may be more effective.
Fenbendazole (Panacur): Broad spectrum; effective against roundworms, hairworms and stomach wall worms. Has a narrow range of safety and can easily cause feather abnormalities if birds receive too much. Avoid using.
Dose : 5 mg per pigeon per day for 3 days.
Levamisole (Tramisol, Levasol, Ripercol): Good against roundworms, but usually fails when used to treat capillaria (thread) worms or stomach wall worms.
Dose : 1 to 1.5 grams per gallon for 1-2 days. NOTE: This dosage often causes some pigeons to vomit. This drug is an immune stimulant even at lower dosages.
Piperazine : Effective against roundworms only, and only 60-80% effective here.
Dose : 15 mg per bird (300 mg per gallon) for 2 days. It is best to avoid using piperazine.
Praziquantel (Droncit): Excellent against tapeworms and flukes.
Dose : 6 mg per pigeon once (1/4 of a cat-size Droncit tablet).
Pyrantel Pamoate : Excellent against roundworms.
Dose : 1-2 mg per pigeon – 75 mg per gallon for 1-2 days. Repeat in 3 weeks.
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Gordon A Chalmers, DVM
(Taken from Formulary prepared by the Association of Pigeon Veterinarians)
Special thanks to:
David E. Marx, D.V.M.
Golden Valley Pet & Pigeon Clinic, 2702 NW 60th Avenue
Norman , OK 73073