Part 9: Avian Pain Management - Pain Assessment in Birds

By Jeannine Miesle MA, AAV

Part 1: History / Introduction

Part 2: Pain Perception and Signal Reception

Part 3: Pain Signal Transmission and Pain Pathways

Part 4: Types of Pain, Long-term effects, Referred Pain, and Pain Memory

Part 5: Pain, Stress, and the Body’s Physiological Response to Them

Part 6: Pain in the Avian Species

Part 7: Anesthesia and Analgesia, Chronic Pain

Part 8: Quality-of-Life Issues

Part 9: Pain Assessment in Birds / Quality of Life  (Please scroll down)

Part 10: Hospice and Palliative Care for Pets, Strategy for Comprehensive Care, & Conclusion

Pain Assessment in Birds


Domain: Regularly ... Sometimes ... Rarely

Physical

  • Is your bird’s energy level normal?
  • Is your bird capable of completing normal, everyday tasks (playing, foraging, etc.)
  • Is your bird eating normal amounts of food?
  • Does your bird eat the normal variety of foods offered?
  • Does your bird greet you with alertness and vocalization?
  • Does your bird walk easily?
  • Does your bird fly easily?
  • Does your bird stumble due to poor vision?
  • Does your bird fly into windows or furniture?
  • Does your bird hear normally?
  • Does your bird recognize his name and turn his head when you speak to him?
  • Is your bird breathing normally, without tail-bobbing?
  • Does your bird become out-of-breath after light exertion?
  • Does your bird let you touch the painful area?
  • Does your bird sleep comfortably on a perch? 
  • Does your bird sleep on a platform or cage floor?
  • Does your bird alternate its sleeping positions?
  • Does your bird sit for long periods with its feathers fluffed and head under the wing?
  • Does your bird react adversely to any medications?
  • Is your bird presently on any medications?

Behavioral

  • Is your bird behaving normally?
  • Does your bird play with toys?
  • Does your bird enjoy foraging opportunities? 
  • Does your bird engage in normal self-grooming/preening behavior?
  • Does your bird engage in social grooming of other birds?
  • Does your bird preen normally after a bath?
  • Does your bird appear chilled and remain still after a bath instead of preening normally?
  • Is your bird easy to awaken?
  • Is your bird ever unusually anxious or nervous?
  • Does your bird cry out unexpectedly?
  • Does your bird exhibit guarding behavior by changing body positions in order to protect a painful area?
  • Does your bird withdraw to a corner or other solitary place and sit still?
  • Does your bird engage in feather-destructive behavior?
  • Does your bird engage in painful grooming behavior or self-mutilation at a specific site?
  • Does your bird engage in painful grooming behavior or self-mutilation generally?
  • Does your bird experience long periods of decreased activity?
  • Is your bird increasingly aggressive toward other birds of the same species?
  • Is your bird increasingly aggressive toward you?
  • Is your bird tolerant of other pets in the house?
  • Is your bird's plumage in good condition?
  • Are there any unusual lumps or growths on your bird?
  • Are your bird's eyes clear and bright?
  • When you lift the eyelid, is it red?
  • Are the nares clear and free of debris?
  • Is there any discharge from the nares?
  • Is your bird’s vent red, inflamed or swollen?
  • Is there any tissue coming out of the vent?
  • Does his preen gland appear normal?

Social

  • Is your bird happy to see you when you get home?
  • Does your bird interact normally with you?
  • Does your bird interact normally with other people?
  • Do you think your bird is happy?

What is your bird’s pain assessment?

The Bird Is In No Pain 0_____________________________________10  The Bird Is In Great Pain

Reference:

Paul-Murphy J. Pain Management for the Pet Bird. In: Handbook of Veterinary Pain Management, Ed. Gaynor J and Muir W III. Second Edition, Mosby Inc., 2009. p. 467

(Additional questions provided by J Miesle)

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