So, your pet bird needs a pedicure — or manicure, depending on how you want to look at it — and you’re not sure if you can do it yourself at home or you need to schedule an appointment with an avian vet. The good news — again, depending on how you want to look at it — is that you can DIY at home, if you’re feeling up to the task. If you have your doubts after reading this, please do your bird a favor and schedule the appointment.
In the wild, birds manage to keep the nails on their claws trim through daily activity. In captivity, however, that isn’t always possible due to the fact they don’t get the same kind of exercise nor do they come into contact with the same materials that might wear them down naturally. Because birds’ nails are continually growing, they need constant trimming. It may take you and your bird a while to get used to the practice, but trimming your bird’s nails can be done at home. This will keep your bird’s nails healthy and prevent them from having problems with perching.
Trimming Bird Nails
Before you begin, make sure you have styptic powder on hand to stanch the bleeding should you cut into the quick. Birds can’t afford to lose much blood, because even just a teaspoon can equal to 10 percent of their total blood volume. Begin by gently wrapping your bird in a soft towel. Once they’re settled, carefully clip just the sharp tips with a pair of bird nail clippers at the very end of the claw.
Note: If you don’t have any styptic, you can easily make some using ordinary household items like flour and baking soda or cornstarch and baking soda or all three. Some people use arrowroot. Whatever you have on hand, mix a little together and apply wet or dry. It should stop the bleeding quickly and it’s harmless to your pet.
With overgrown beaks, don’t try to wing it and do it yourself. Unlike trimming their nails, where it’s optional as to whether you perform the procedure or take them to a vet for professional services, overgrown beaks should be attended to by an avian veterinarian. You can schedule an appointment for having their nails trimmed during the same visit, if you find it too challenging.
Birds love water for the same reasons we do: it’s cool and refreshing and it cleanses away dirt and grime. That’s why it’s important to provide your bird with a suitable bird bath for freshening up whenever they feel it’s necessary. Tip: clean the water a few times a week and keep it at a tepid temperature. Pet stores and purveyors of pet supplies carry convenient spray baths for keeping birds clean as well.
Helping your bird stay well groomed can improve their quality of life and add years to it.