Birds are susceptible to parasites just as mammals and reptiles are. For most mammalian parasites there is a counterpart in the bird world. Birds can be infested with internal parasites such as worms, and with external parasites like mites.
Birds that are kept outdoors or in flocks are more likely to have a problem with parasites because of their increased risk of exposure. One or two birds caged together should have minimal risk of becoming infected with parasites assuming they were parasite-free when purchased.
So let us take the right information
What birds can get worms?
There are many opinions on this topic and we have heard them all. Things like cement floors will prevent worm infestations in aviaries and if you only have one bird it can not get worms. Wrong. While there are measures that reduce the risk of worm infestation, there remains some risk. While some species of birds and environmental factors reduce risk. The fact is if it has a gut, it can get worms, no exceptions.
So why should you care about worms?
Well, different worms cause different issues. If your bird has made contact and ingested Roundworm eggs, they quickly hatch, the emerging larvae taking a tour of the bird's body, actually moving through the tissue on their way to the bird's gut. Sounds traumatic right? Well, in large numbers it can be.
But you see the real problem caused by Roundworms happens when the larvae reach the gut and then mature into adults. At this point, each worm becomes an egg-producing factory sucking up nutrients that your bird needs and increasing in numbers as the life cycle continues now your birds are in serious trouble.
What are the symptoms of worms?
It is a tricky thing to know what to look for if your bird has worms. Birds can carry a large number of worms in their stomach without showing any outward symptoms.
Then in the right conditions, for example, your bird becomes stressed; this existing large worm population can explode in numbers causing immediate implications and even death. Some of the symptoms that are common with worms with birds include weight loss, poor feather condition, lethargy, sleepiness, and ruffled feathers. In inbreeding birds, you may also see a reduced activity, particularly in egg production.
Adults carrying worms also pose a risk to their developing babies. The big problem is that these symptoms are not specific to just worms and the majority of them occur when the birds are very sick, with just about any disease. Waiting to treat worms until you see these signs is a very bad idea.
How do we stop a worm infestation?
The only way is to establish a regular worming schedule. PGPET recommends that all birds, whether they are breeders or pets, inside or outside birds, are wormed four times a year. Prevention is key to stopping worm infestations. Some people find it easy to remember by worming at the start of every season, this ensures you are up to date with your worming treatments.
Vetafarm recommends using Wormout Gel to worm all types of birds. The active ingredients are Praziquantel and Oxfendazole, both have been proven to be safe at up to ten times the recommended dose rate. It will treat and prevent all types of worms and can be administered either in water or via a crop needle and either method is safe and effective.
If you choose to treat in water, here are a few tips to help you get the job done right:
Avoid medicating on generally cold days and damp days. A bird’s water intake will generally be less on days like these and birds will drink water off the wire of their cages before touching medicated water. Likewise, avoid medicating on extremely hot days as a bird's water intake can be double or triple what it would usually be.
Worming solutions can be quite bitter and often birds will refuse to drink medicated water adding a small amount of orange juice to sweeten the water will often help with these fussy drinkers.
Also, make sure you remove all other types of water and wet food whilst medicating. Birds will choose to eat things like fruit or sprouts to get moisture rather than drink their medication.
Measuring the medication is easy -1 pump is equal to 1ml. We recommend using a jar with a secure lid for mixing Wormout Gel as this provides a much faster way to achieve the mixed solution. So two pumps of Wormout Gel into 160ml of water, pop on the lid, and shake well. All these directions are also on the reverse of the product label. If you’re adding orange juice, just remember to supplement 40mls of water with your 40mls of juice.
You need to provide the medicated water for 2 days and replace it with a fresh solution every 24 hours. We find it much easier to make up two days' worth of medication, use half on the first day, and put the other half in the fridge to be changed out on the second day. You will need to ensure that it is mixed through properly as the gel will settle to the bottom of the container after some time.
While anyone can treat worms using Wormout Gel in water, it is also designed for direct administration using a medication or crop needle in birds in emergencies or any circumstance that a bird's water consumption is in question.
It is only recommended that you attempt this if you are familiar and confident with the technique of using a crop or medication needle. If you would like to find out more about how to crop needles, check out our store, or consult with your local veterinarian.