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How Do You Rehydrate a Sick Bird?

How Do You Rehydrate a Sick Bird?

One of the things you might experience is a sick bird regardless of whether the bird is your pet or is a wild bird you encountered. Of course, like people and other animals, birds need to be rehydrated when they are sick because of how illnesses can easily lead to dehydration. But, sick birds aren’t always willing to drink water in a conventional way, how do you rehydrate a sick bird?

The best way to rehydrate a sick bird is to use homemade or commercial rehydration remedies that are quick to replace the bird’s electrolytes. In extreme cases, you might also need to use intravenous fluids to provide the bird with the fluids that it needs especially when it is too weak to drink.

We are always told that we need to drink lots of fluids when we are sick because of how our bodies are naturally dehydrated when we are ill and how we need to make sure that we are properly hydrated to combat our illness. The same concept applies to birds as we need to make sure that sick birds are properly rehydrated whenever they are sick so that they can quickly recover from their illness.

Signs of a dehydrated bird

Similar to how humans can easily get dehydrated when they are sick due to how hard the body is working to fight off the infection, the same can happen to birds. That’s why, if you have a sick bird, you need to watch out for these signs of dehydration so that you can immediately rehydrate it:

Obvious signs

There will be some obvious signs of dehydration when you observe your bird carefully. Dehydration is pretty easy to spot similar to how you can easily tell if a person isn’t drinking enough water. In the case of a bird, it should have sunken or dull eyes or should have a wrinkly appearance. There will also be times when the inside of a bird’s mouth will become dry due to dehydration.

Skin is less elastic

Skin elasticity is directly related to how well-hydrated a bird is because the skin needs to be moisturized for it to be elastic. So, if you tried to gently pinch a section of the bird’s skin, look to see if the skin takes a bit longer to go back. If it doesn’t go back to normal in a second, there is a good chance that the bird is dehydrated.


Of course, a bird’s body needs enough fluids to provide it with the energy it needs. While a sick bird should be naturally lethargic, you will be able to quickly spot a sick or dehydrated bird if it seems to lack energy or if looks weak and lethargic. That means that the bird wasn’t consuming enough water to keep its strength up and to make sure that it stays healthy. This is quite obvious when you notice that the bird isn’t moving as well as it should or if it seemingly lacks the kind of energy you should expect from it on a usual basis.

Solid droppings

Birds should normally have wet droppings. So, if you observed that your pet bird has solid droppings or if it has a pretty unusual bowel movement in the sense that it doesn’t eliminate its waste as often as it should, there is a good chance that it might be dehydrated. In the most extreme cases, it should have droppings that are quite dry or it might not even have any bowel movements at all.

What to give a sick bird for rehydration?

Now that you already know the different signs and symptoms of a sick bird, it is now time for us to look at the things that you can give a sick bird to help rehydrate it so that it can return to full health as quickly as possible.

The first thing you might think of is the usual way of rehydrating anything. Yes, we are talking about good old water. However, water might not always be the best for rehydration because of how it lacks the necessary minerals and electrolytes that your bird needs to keep its strength up and rehydrate. As such, you might want to use a solution that can help replace a sick bird’s electrolytes while providing it with the fluids that it needs to regain its strength.

In most cases, you may be able to do well with orange or cherry juice because these have essential electrolytes as well as helpful vitamins and minerals that will help rehydrate your bird. It also helps that orange and cherry juice are sweet enough to try to entice your bird to drink.

But if you don’t have orange or cherry juice at home, you can always go for the best name in terms of electrolyte replacement: Gatorade. While Gatorade is often used by athletes, it is full of electrolytes that can help replenish and replace the lost electrolytes of a sick bird. However, Gatorade might be too sweet and full of sugars for smaller birds.

As such, you may want to tone the sweetness down a bit by diluting Gatorade with equal parts of water so that it won’t end up having too much sugar for your bird. However, in extreme cases of dehydration, you probably don’t have to mix Gatorade with too much water and you might be able to make a good homemade solution of syrup, salt, and baking soda to provide the bird a way to regain its lost electrolytes.

However, the quickest way to truly rehydrate a bird without having to mix up a solution is to buy a commercial rehydration product such as Pedialyte. This solution is surely healthier and less sweet than Gatorade. That means that it should be safer than most other sports drinks that you can give your bird. Also, Pedialyte is formulated with the right kind of balance of electrolytes, carbs, and water to truly rehydrate a bird that is dehydrated due to its illness.

In any other case and when you can’t buy any fruits or commercial products, you can try mixing a mug of warm water with a quarter of a teaspoon of salt and a quarter of a teaspoon of sugar. The salt and sugar will help replace the electrolytes and carbohydrates that your sick bird lost.

However, when it comes to the most extreme cases such as when your bird is already too weak or too sick to even drink any liquids, that is the time when you should use intravenous fluids to provide it with the fluids it needs to recover. It is best to take the bird to a vet so that you will have a professional administering the intravenous fluids to your bird.