How to administer oral medications to a bird

by Jeannine Miesle, MA
Allied Member, Association of Avian Veterinarians


Available for Professional Writing, Editing, Proofing

  • Gather all your supplies, fill your syringes and have them waiting for you.

  • Gently pick up your bird, give him lots of hugs and kisses, and hold him carefully on either side of his head. Play peek-a-boo with him, smiling and laughing all the time.

  • Carefully open the mouth and place the syringe on the side of the beak, slowly squeezing the medication into the beak. Allow time for swallowing between mouthfuls. Keep giving those hugs and kisses! Give a reward when finished.

There! Done! See? Wasn’t that easy?

Now for a reality check

  • Take TWO nerve pills.

  • Gather all your supplies, fill your syringes and have them waiting for you.

  • Pick up your bird and observe as he wriggles free and flies to the floor.

  • Chase the bird around the house, throwing the towel over him every fifteen seconds or so.

  • Move the sofa out of the way and try to lure him out from under it.

  • Close the pantry door after he scoots into it, then make an effort to block his escape route.

  • If it’s a small bird, give the net a try. Generally, this is a wasted effort.

  • Use the longest stick you can find to shoo him off the curtain rod.

  • Yeay! You’ve finally captured him! Now dart to the powder room, snatch the gauze, ointment and tape and bandage up your fingers.

  • Once you’ve gotten the bleeding to stop, repeat the above steps until you finally have him secured in a towel.

  • Now that he’s wriggled out of the towel, grab him again and enclose him in it.

  • Pin him against the microwave so that your left arm is between him and microwave and your left hand is gripping his head. Ignore the fighting, screaming and scratching of feet on the counter surface and your upper body. With your right hand, pick up the syringe and aim it at the back of his mouth.

  • Do your best to hold his head with the thumb under the mandible while attempting to pry open his beak.

  • Squirt the liquid in the general direction of the beak.

  • Smart as he is, he’s figured out that it’s impossible to swallow if his mouth is open, so strive to pry his beak from the towel or your shirt and quickly lift his head so the liquid will drip down his throat.

  • Make a mental note to clean up the floor where the syringe fell. Try to stop cursing and swearing as you take a deep breath. Persevere.

  • Refill another syringe and try again, this time using the fingers of your left hand to clutch his head against your chest while you again take a stab at getting the mouth open with the fingers of your right hand. Use your chin to restrain his head.

  • Pry open the beak with the syringe, then, if it’s a large bird, remove the broken syringe from the bird’s mouth. Inhale. Repeat as many of the above steps as necessary until some of the liquid pours down his throat.

  • Refill another syringe with one hand while preventing the bird from twisting away with the other.

  • Insert a perch or small stick in the mouth in an effort to keep it open. If successful, squirt the medicine anywhere close to the beak that you can get it and hope for the best. If he permits you to do so, wipe the medication off the bird’s face, forehead, beak, breast, back, tail, wings and feet. Release the bird. Sweep up the wood.

  • Stagger to the powder room for the gauze, ointment and tape, and bandage up your arms and other body parts that have not as yet been treated. Change your clothes, lie down for a while, and wait for the nerve pills to kick in.

Find Your Local Avian Veterinarian

Information contained on this website is provided as general reference only. For application to specific circumstances, professional advice should be sought.