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How to keep your bird safe in summer

How to keep your bird safe in summer

When exposed to the summer heat, we might break out in a sweat and seek shade to cool our bodies down. What about our feathered friends…how do they stay cool? Since birds lack sweat glands, it’s important to remember that they can be at risk of overheating during the summer months. Here’s how to keep your pet bird safe in the summer heat and humidity.

Unlike humans, birds don’t have sweat glands and overheating is a serious threat. As we keep most birds in a cage or aviary, it’s important to provide what they need to stay cool and safe in the summer. Here’s our suggestions of how to do just that.

1. Offer shade

It's nice to be able to let your bird get some fresh air outside and enjoy the sunshine, but just like us, too much direct sunlight can rapidly cause overheating, which can be very dangerous for a bird. You can help prevent this from happening by ensuring that your birds always have access to shade and can escape the sun whenever they want. Think of moving the cage into a spot where they will be more comfortable in the summer. Try a tiled room, like the bathroom, when it’s hot.

2. Give them a light mist

A light mist spray will help keep your bird cool. You can do this manually using a spray bottle if you’re at home throughout the day. Or, you can hook up an automated mister that will spray a fine mist at regular intervals throughout the day to help your bird cool off while you’re out.

3. Provide a bath

Birds love to frolic in cool water to help them regulate their temperature. Add a shallow dish filled with just a couple of centimetres of water into your bird’s cage for it to bathe in. Or, buy a bird bath that can be attached to the cage. Keep the water clean by changing it regularly.

4. Keep things breezy

If you have your bird inside, it can still be quite warm. You might want to consider leaving a fan on (low speed) near their enclosure for a short period. It’s best if you’re nearby just to ensure they are safe. Just remember to turn the fan off or move it out of reach when your bird is out of the cage to prevent any injury from the fan blades.

5. Keep their water full

On hot days water can evaporate quickly, so check it regularly and keep it full for your feathered friend. Think about installing a second water feeder if needed for the hot months.

6. Clean the cage regularly

Warm conditions are perfect for the growth of bacteria and other parasites, so clean your bird’s cage more often during the summer months. Don’t let bird food sit for long periods without changing it as it can also promote the growth of bacteria. Change it regularly to keep your bird safe.

Recognise the signs of overheating

Our pet birds can start overheating at about 26°C. A sure sign of overheating is when your bird holds its wings away from its body to enable it to cool itself down; it looks ‘fluffed out’. Other signs to watch out for include:

  • Your bird may act stressed and out of character
  • He may be aggressive or uncharacteristically passive
  • If your bird is panting or is exhibiting an open mouth breathing pattern, it is trying to cool itself down
  • Severe head tilting as a sign of neurological distress
  • Your bird may be less active than normal
  • Sitting on the cage floor and very quiet

If your bird is showing signs of heat stress, it needs to be immediately cooled down with a gentle spray of water or damping with a cool sponge under his wings, feet and beak. He should be taken immediately to a veterinarian. Keep the car cool with the air conditioner but ensure that the air doesn’t blow directly on to the bird.

If you need any advice on keeping your pet bird healthy and happy, just ask one of our friendly Animates team members or contact your local Animates Vetcare clinic.

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