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How to Groom a Pet Bird

Learn how to groom a pet bird in this Howcast video featuring veterinarian Laurie Hess.


Dr. Laurie: So when we think of grooming we think of bringing our pet, like our dog to the groomer, where they get washed and brushed and combed. It's not quite like that for birds, but birds need regular grooming every few weeks to few months, as well. They need to have their nails trimmed, and typically we do recommend wing trimming as well, and these things often that pet bird owners cannot do at home.

It takes two people. One person to hold the bird and the other one to trim. Little bird's nails can be trimmed with a little baby nail trimmer. Apparently she doesn't like to have her nails trimmed, so she's voicing an opinion there and wings can be trimmed with a scissors. We do that very safely at the animal hospital.

You want to make sure that you don't use the same nail trimmer or wing trimmer scissors on multiple birds. You want to sterilize them, just as you would get a manicure and clean in between people using them. We would want to clean our instruments between birds. Do you want to mention something about beak cleaning?

Sarah: Absolutely, a common misconception is that people often believe that their bird's beak needs to be trimmed regularly. On the bright side, it does not. It is supposed to be sharp. If your bird's beak has something wrong with it where it's deformed and it needs to be trimmed often. It means that there's another medical issue going on and that needs to be checked out by your veterinarian, immediately anyway.

A: Yeah, parrots are hook-billed species. Meaning they have a hard, hook-like shaped beak, and that's what they need to eat, and that's normal for them. So while it may be unpleasant to be bitten by a bird who has a point at the end of their beak, that's normal. So better to work on training the bird or giving the bird appropriate things to chew on, then to try to change it's normal anatomy by trimming it's beak back.

We will trim when they develop conditions like scissor beak, where the top and bottom beak kind of cross like that. Sometimes even an upper beak that's very long can be indicative of a problem, like liver disease. So rather than just rushing out to the pet store and saying, "Please, please trim my bird's beak." If it looks abnormal, better yet go to the vet. Have it checked out and make sure there's no underlying problem.

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