Bathing Birds

 

Does my bird need a bath?bathing_birds-1

Bathing is very important to the proper maintenance of feathers. To have healthy feathers and skin, birds should get wet.  In the wild, a bird may bathe during a rain shower or in a puddle, lake, or stream. Some birds nuzzle playfully in wet grasses and vegetation. Bathing encourages birds to preen or groom their feathers. It keeps feathers free of dirt and helps preserve their wonderful, natural luster. The dry air in our homes created by central heating and air conditioning is not conducive to the maintenance of healthy feathers and skin, so pet birds should be encouraged to bathe every day.

 

How often should my bird be bathed?

"Your bird may have preferences such as the time of day it likes to bathe."

Birds should be offered a bath daily. Whether they opt to bathe every day depends on the bird. Many birds enjoy bathing every day, while others prefer to bathe only occasionally. Birds should be encouraged to bathe often, as their feathers and skin will look healthier if they bathe frequently. Start by offering a bath to your bird once or twice weekly. You may notice that your bird has a preference about the time of day it likes to bathe. Try to offer the bath or bring your bird into the shower at the time of day it chooses to bathe.

 

How should I bathe my bird?

The bird will actually do most of the work. You will simply supply the lukewarm water. Some birds enjoy splashing in a dish of water and actually try to submerge themselves in their drinking cups. There are also special bathing chambers that attach to the side of a small bird's cage and keep water from splashing about the room. A shallow sink of water is another convenient place for birds to bathe, and many birds like to frolic under a gentle trickle of water from the tap while dipping their head and fluttering their wings in the water. You can also use a clean spray bottle, such as a plant mister, to gentle mist your bird, simulating rain. Your bird may dance about excitedly with its wings in the air and its tail fanned out as it turns frequently to catch as much of this light "rain" as possible. You might even tire of spraying the bird before the bird tires of being sprayed! Your pet may enjoy showering with you and may be happy sitting on a special perch that sticks to the tile with suction cups at the back of the shower, away from the direct flow of water. Direct water pressure from the shower head may frighten or even hurt the bird, so a perch farther from the direct spray, where the bird can be splashed gently, is generally ideal. Some smaller birds, such as finches and canaries, will wet themselves on the moisture dripping from freshly washed vegetation such as carrot tops or other greens.

"Ensure you monitor a bird's bath time closely to help avoid accidents such as drowning."

Commercial bathing solutions containing chemicals, soaps, or other ingredients should not be used on birds. As they preen their feathers, birds ingest whatever is on the feathers, and many ingredients that might be safe topically may not be if they are ingested. Thus, in general, only water should be used to mist birds. Consult your veterinarian for specific directions if you should need to remove something specific off your bird's feathers.

 

When should I bathe my bird?

Bathing in the morning may provide more opportunity to dry. A sunny, warm room, free of drafts provides the bird with a comfortable setting to dry out and preen while ensuring the bird does not get chilled.  . Some birds enjoy being dried with a gentle warm hair dryer, but great care must be taken not to overheat the bird or force it to be dried with a dryer if it is frightened by it.

"Bathing in the morning may provide more opportunity to dry."

When done properly, bathing can be as much fun for you as it is for your bird.

This client information sheet is based on material written by: Rick Axelson, DVM; Updated by Laurie Hess, DVM

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