Cockatiel won't eat after beak trim

by Debbie McNair
(Atascadero, CA, USA)

My 15 yr. old female, Pied cockatiel doesn't use her cuttlebone or toys to keep her beak trim, so because it was getting long & poking her we took her to a Vet to have the beak trimmed. The Vet said he was an Avian.
The beak appears to be too short now, as it doesn't have a hook at all. The U part of the bottom looks okay, sans a little scab in that area. When the Vet tech returned her to us after the procedure, she mentioned the bird had cut her tounge.
The bird will drink water, but not much. She will not eat at all. We got all her favorite foods, but she only took a couple of pecks at a crust of bread. I don't think she actually got any in her mouth.
We offered soft strawberries and minced zucchini, but she doesn't want any of those.
I am concerned my bird won't eat. She sits in the same spot on her perch & appears to be sleepy much of the time.
She doesn't whistle as much as before, but it's been only 28 hours since the beak trim.
Please advise.

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May 30, 2013
Happy End to Story
by: Debbie

Cockatiel was given vitamins in water to sustain her. She had soft broccoli flowers minced very finely, minced carrot, banana & minced zucchini.
She started rubbing her beak on the perches, so I put a very small sand paper perch cover (maybe an inch long) where she could reach and she pretty much conditioned her beak where she could eat. Day 5 I got her a millet spray with exceptionally small seeds. She fed her self adequately. Now she has eaten regularly and seems to be her old self.
Am still looking for an Avian Vet. Emailed and telephoned the closest one to my home as was posted via link on this site, but no response. Will never take bird back to Vet who did the damage.
Am very happy she didn't die! Thanks to all who offered advice.

Editor's note: Please be cautious with vitamins, I killed my first bird by putting vitamins in the water. It caused kidney failure.

May 24, 2013
Update re: Cockatiel
by: Debbie

I called the Vet. How convenient he went on "vacation" today.
There is no one in my area that will see her, I called 2 other Docs, but know they aren't as qualified.None were willing to see her and prescribe anything for pain. The vet I took her to is the only Avian in the entire county. I think he had a Vet Tech do the beak, It's not smooth enough to have been done with a dremmel.
As for the tounge, she bit her tounge before we even took her in. That's how I knew the beak was too long and the curvature was incorrect.
The bird has been offered various soft foods including fruits, veggies, oatmeal, bread. She has declined. She attempts to peck at her millet, but I see no casings from any seeds on the floor of the cage.
I added vitamin drops to her water for nourishment. She is more vocal today and more interactive than in the past 2 days. She is able to use her beak to pull herself up along the bars of the cage.
Everyone in the house takes turns observing, so the only time she's completely alone is when we all sleep.
We'll keep at this and sustain her as best as possible. Unfortunately, we do not have the means to travel 250 miles each way to a different vet.
Believe me, if she happens to meet an untimely demise as a legal professional, I plan to sue the "flock" out of the Vet.
Any other comments or suggestions are appreciated.

May 24, 2013
Cockatiel won't eat after beak trim
by: Linda

Unfortunately, the people you took her to have butchered her. The tongue should never be hurt unless they used a dremmel tool on her which can actually cut part of the tongue off.

She needs to be seen immediately by an Avian Vet only. Make sure you are taking her to an Avian Vet because dog and cat vets do not know the first thing about caring for birds, and this sounds like who you took her to. Avian Vets have this information displayed in their ads in the yellow pages so there is no doubt they are avian vets. If this was an avian vet, then they need to find another line of work not involving living beings of any kind.

Do not take her back to the other vet because they obviously do not know what they are doing. She will sicken and die if not treated immediately by an Avian Vet.

Also, a word of caution here for you and everyone reading this. Do not allow any vet or their staff to take you bird off somewhere to do something like trimming wings, nails and beaks. Have them do this in the room with you. If they do not agree, leave their office and take bird somewhere where they are not ashamed of what they're going to do with your bird. Beak trimming can be a very tedious and dangerous operation, and you never want them to be using a dremmel tool because they cause more injuries than is necessary.

Your little bird is in pain and needs immediate help from a licensed and trained avian vet. If someone does not allow you to see what they are doing, it can sometimes mean they are going to handle your bird roughly and do not want you to interfere. Make sure your bird stays in room with you unless they have to do x-rays where they have to take bird to a more restricted area. To remove bird for something as routine as wing, nail and beak trimming means they are going to hurt your bird, and it is your job to make sure this does not happen.

Let us know what the "real" avian vet has to say and I hope your little bird is better soon.


May 24, 2013
Beak trim
by: Anonymous

You really should have checked out the vet before you took your bird there to make sure they were truly an avian vet. Most dog and cat vets do not know how to care for birds. Whomever did the beak trim did not do it correctly. If there was a small scab, they trimmed the beak too short and hit a blood vein and probably had to use a styptic pen to stop the bleeding. Also, the bird didn't cut her tongue, the person doing the beak trim did.

When I take my bird to the avian vet, the vet himself comes into the room and handles her and trims her beak right in front of me, I would not allow a vet tech to take my bird into another room for any procedure.

I used the Find an Avian Vet link from this blog and found a wonderful expert in bird care very close to my home and would not take my bird anywhere else.

May 24, 2013
Bird not eating properly after beak trim
by: The Avian Vet

Her beak is now painful because it was trimmed to short, I think. There should be a natural hook to the upper beak. It is possible that a pain medication would be appropriate because this will be uncomfortable for a few days. Continue feeding soft foods in addition to offering the regular diet. Call your veterinarian to see if your bird can have pain medication. Leave her in the cage to rest more than she is out. Do not bathe or spray her so as not to encourage the need for excessive grooming.

Dr B

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