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How do you hydrate a sick pigeon without aspirating it?

5726 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Bella_F
I have only tried hydrating a very sick pigeon once, by following the advice on the sticky at the top of this forum. I was using a large syringe, which seemed like a good way of doing it. However at the time, I was very confused about how to get the water down its throat without causing it to breath in the water. The pigeon was sitting, so I tilted back its head and opened its beak, and slowly plunged the syringe, letting drops of water go down his throat. I'd do a few drops at a time, and then let the pigeon swallow.

He seemed to do ok with this, but according to the sticky he needed a lot more fluid, so I tried to give him more in the morning. I pretty much did the same thing, but after an hour or so, he took a turn for the worse and was having breathing problems.

I am left feeling that I aspirated him! He was already really sick and badly wasted, with severe diahorrea, and he'd lost the ability to stand over the night. So with the breathign problem on top of all this I tought it would kinder to have die painlessly rather than suffer any longer.

I'm sure I'll encounter a situation liek this again, so i am wonderng if anyone can please explain to me how to hydrate a sick bird, without aspirating it? Is there a trick with the tilt of the head, or where the tip of the syringe enters the mouth?

Thanks so much for your help!
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Bella....I open the beak to get a full view of the inside of the mouth and throat. By doing so I can tell if the mouth looks healthy and if there are any obstructions in the throat.
It's best to go slow with a few drops at a time down the back of the throat, after the bird has been completely warmed.
Dear Charis,
Thankyou, that makes a lot of sense. When you have the beak open, how far do you usually tilt back the pigeon's head to get the fluid to go down the back of the throat? Do you think it would be better to put something on the end of the syringe, to get the tip of the syringe past the trachea? Or is it unnecessary?

X Belinda
An easier way is using a tube extension so that you can get past that, like the one shown here:

...and discussed in more detail here:


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Belinda, we usually use a 3 or 5 cc syringe with a nipple attached and insert the nipple past the air hole and just put a drop or two in at the time. If the bird is really sick, we simply use a finger with a drop or two of water on it, place the finger against the beak and let the water dribble in that way.

I believe you can get nipples in the kitten area of most pet stores.
Thanks everyone for your help. I feel like I'll be a bit better prepared next time.
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