Elizabethan Collars in Birds
Why would my bird need a collar?
Following certain traumas, after some surgeries, or in the case of a self-mutilating bird or feather picking bird, various protective devices or collars (often called Elizabethan collars) may have to be employed to prevent a bird from further harming or traumatizing itself. You should not attempt to make or apply your own collar. A collar should be used only under the supervision of a veterinarian familiar with birds and only in conjunction with ongoing therapy or work to manage the underlying causes. The bird's nutritional health, medical problems, traumatic or surgical problems and especially its behavioral issues must be addressed; the collar is only a "bandage" solution to facilitate healing and keep the bird from harming itself further.
What are the available types of collars?
"There are various kinds of collars available, including both commercial products and custom-designed ones."
There are various kinds of collars available, including both commercial products and custom-designed ones. Some birds respond better to certain types or designs of collars. Some veterinarians will design and make their own collars. Some are made from carefully padded plastic disks customized to the sized and needs of your bird. Some are soft tubular devices that gently extend the neck. Some collars are soft and some are rigid.
How will my bird respond to his collar?
This is a significant event for your pet and has POTENTIAL RISKS associated with it. It is important that the collar itself does not cause further trauma to the bird. Initially, most birds will flap and flail around and fight to get this "foreign" object off their body. They do not understand it. Collars have to be lightweight so they do not prevent the bird from eating, drinking or getting around the cage reasonably well. The collar must not be able to be caught in the cage or on cage items. The collar must be easy enough for an owner to take it off should there be any problems, but obviously NOT easy for the bird to remove. It is recommended to have the bird stay in hospital for observation after a collar has been applied to monitor how they are coping and acclimatizing to it. While in hospital, the bird may be placed in an incubator or Plexiglas cage that is padded, perhaps with towels, to protect the bird while it adapts to wearing the collar. As the day progresses, the bird will tire and learn to accept it. Then, he will explore getting around the cage and learn to manage the food and water dishes. If the bird somehow manages to chew or damage the collar, is able to get around the collar and at the site to be protected, gets the collar off or if the collar somehow causes harm to the bird, it will be removed, remade or adjusted to better suit the individual bird. Some individuals and certain species fight the application of a new collar more than others do. Your veterinarian may elect to use a mild and safe sedative to aid in its acceptance.
What about home care?
When you get the bird home, you will need to make some temporary modifications to your bird's cage during the adjustment period. You will need to put padding on the bottom of the cage and lower ALL the perches in the cage such that if the bird falls, he will be protected and as safe as possible. Food and water dishes must be placed such that the bird can easily bend over and eat or drink with the collar on.
PLEASE ENSURE your pet is eating and drinking. MONITOR the feces. NO feces means that your bird is NOT eating.
"NO feces means that your bird is NOT eating."
IN AN EMERGENCY - if you find the bird somehow stressed, depressed or otherwise compromised or endangered by the collar, remove the collar or seek assistance from your veterinarian.
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