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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 33247
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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Avian vet/experienced with birds vets only please My

Customer Question

Avian vet/experienced with birds vets only pleaseMy cockatiel has a bobbing tail which moves when she breathes. She is eating/drinking/pooping/playing as normal and she has been to see our local vet who thinks it is a respiratory infection and prescribed baytril to go in the water as my other cockatiel has started bobbing tail also but it's very small amount in comparison. I'm concerned he has given a weeks worth when I've read baytril should show signs of improvement in 48 hours if it is a bacterial infection. It's been 48 hours and no improvement, would this indicate it's not bacterial? What else could it be; viral, fungal etc and should I take her back to see the vet for some new medication in a day or two, as I know birds can decline rapidly.Thanks
Submitted: 12 months ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 12 months ago.

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Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 12 months ago.

It indicates that an antibiotic should never be placed in a bird's water and expect that it will helpful. Birds that are ill aren't going to drink enough to medicate themselves properly and adding any drug to the water is likely to make it distasteful and even less likely to be drunk. You'll need to dose Cocoa directly into her mouth twice daily with the Baytril dosed at 20 mg/kg of body weight twice daily. Most cockatiels weigh ~0.1 kg and so Cocoa should receive 2 mg of Baytril twice daily. An antibiotic designed to address a respiratory infection should be administered for a minimum of 10 days. Two days would be woefully inadequate and unlikely to show improvement in my patient even if given by injection. Be sure to heat up Cocoa's environment to 29.4C with a 100W bulb shined into her partially covered cage (not at night when she needs to sleep) or by taping a heating pad set on its lowest setting around the base of her cage.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
He recommended adding to the water because while she's tame she does not like to be restrained and is very feisty which he said is going to cause unnecessary stress when ill. She has actually been drinking water normally, the other cockatiel has been drinking more than usual since the baytril in the water so I guess they don't mind the taste in that respect. I really don't think he's given enough baytril for 10 days as it says 6 days on the label. Can you recommend the best way to medicate her directly to her mouth safely and as comfortable for her as possible.Also, could you tell me if the baytril doesn't work what should I do when going back to my vet or what would the most likely illness be if its not bacterial
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 12 months ago.

The vet should demonstrate how a bird is handled to be medicated properly without harming the bird. If you grip Cocoa a bit too hard you'll suffocate her as birds need their entire body to breathe properly. They don't have a diaphragm. There is a risk handling a bird already in respiratory distress but not treating properly is even more risky. Here's a good example of how it's done:

I want to see a positive change from antibiotic administration within the first half of the prescribed course. In other words, if I want to treat for 10 days, I want to see a positive change within the initial 5 days. If I don't, I need to consider another antibiotic; in this case, either doxycycline or trimethoprim/sulfa. Bacterial respiratory infections are most common in cockatiels. I need to also consider both fungal and viral infections as well as hypovitaminosis A (a lack of vitamin A in the diet) which can cause changes in the respiratory tract lining and symptoms similar to those of an infection. What has Cocoa's diet consisted of, please? Seeds should compose less than 20% of her diet. A diet of mainly seed and nuts has excessive fat, carbohydrates, and phosphorus; marginal protein; adequate vitamin E, and are deficient in amino acids, calcium, available phosphorus, sodium, manganese, zinc, iron, vitamins A, D3 (necessary for efficient absorption of calcium), K, and B12, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, choline, and available niacin.  Ideally, a balanced pelleted diet such as can be found here: or here: should be fed as well as hard boiled egg yolk, pancakes and cornbread, the tops of fresh greens, dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, fresh fruits such as apples, pears, melon, kiwi, and berries, vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, beets, asparagus, cabbage, sweet potato, and squash, and even tiny pieces of meat.