can birds choke on food

Choking means that a bird is unable to breathe because something is either partially or completely obstructing the windpipe. Pet birds, especially babies, can easily choke on liquids or small pieces broken off of a bird toy.

A bird that is choking will show difficulty swallowing, it may be gasping for breath, or it may be opening the beak with an exaggerated motion and attempting to regurgitate or gag.

Sam Vaughn, DVM, Dip. ABVP-Avian Practice, said the signs that your pet bird is choking may be obvious or subtle. A bird may begin extending its neck, gasping for air, he said. In other cases, the bird will utter a small sound like a cough that could easily go unnoticed.

“If you even imagine your bird has aspirated you should seek veterinary care immediately,” Vaughn said. “Most likely radiographs will be performed to attempt and localize the substance in the air sacs or respiratory tree.”

Vaughn said in his opinion it is wrong to use a cotton swab to attempt to remove the object causing the choking. Instead, when a bird obviously aspirates, such as a when a baby bird starts choking on formula during a hand-feeding procedure, he recommends gently turning the bird upside down without restraining its head. This allows gravity and the bird’s natural jaw manipulations to dislodge the object.

Since birds don’t have a diaphragm separating the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity, one can’t perform the standard Heimlich maneuver that is used for a choking human. However, if it is suspected that a bird has inhaled a seed hull or a small object that has entered the trachea (windpipe), you can still attempt to dislodge it by carefully, but quickly, performing a short inward compression of the keel, with the bird being inverted.

Endoscopy to remove the substance causing the choking is an advanced procedure that may need to be performed to cure a choking problem. Vaughn also said antibiotic or antifungal treatment may be necessary to prevent secondary infections.

If a liquid or semi-solid has entered the respiratory tract, nebulization therapy may be an important part of treatment. An avian veterinarian may surgically place an abdominal air sac tube to allow the bird to breathe if there is an upper air-way obstruction causing choking. This can be a life-saving procedure useful to allow a bird to breathe until the obstruction is removed. Once the cause of choking has been resolved, a bird may not need any additional treatment long-term.

If aspiration of a liquid or semi-liquid has occurred, some scarring of the lung or air sac tissue may be a permanent result, but unless the damage was severe, this may not affect the bird’s normal activity level or functioning of the respiratory system.

Disclaimer: Bird Health Index is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s health if you suspect your pet is sick. If your pet is showing signs of illness or you notice changes in your bird’s behavior, take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.

So how do birds consume large prey? Some will shred it into small pieces that they can bite off. That’s probably how this Red-tail Hawk had its squirrel stew or this Osprey consumed this large fish.

I became interested in learning more about how different birds’ beaks have evolved to fit their diets after reading this article. Stay tuned!.

I recall seeing this Great Blue Heron at Ocean Winds Golf Course tossing and turning this eel around its beak until it swallowed it whole in April.

Response: A Google search didn’t result in many responses. Food that has been poorly chewed can become lodged in the trachea of humans, causing them to choke. Food travels more easily through a bird’s grooved mouth and shaped tongue past the glottis, the tracheal opening, and into the esophagus (food tube). Food getting into the trachea, which is the main reason why people choke, is not the solution. Birds frequently swallow their food whole rather than shredding it (more on this later). When something a bird is eating gets so big that it obstructs the trachea’s opening and stops the bird from breathing, that bird is said to be choking. Two instances that were observed were a Northern Saw-whet Owl (7 inches) trying to ingest a Peromyscus mouse (5-8 inches long) and a Great Blue Heron consuming a lamprey. The bulk of the fish were visible outside the Laughing Gull’s mouth in the image that was sent with the inquiry. The Laughing Gull most likely tried to swallow a fish with a hook, which prevented the bird from naturally expelling the large meal. It would not have been a happy ending, which serves as a reminder to all of us to fish with caution when using hooks.

A lot of people have seen Anhingas spear fish, but I’ve never seen how they eat it. My thought is the “down the hatch method”. While I was researching, I discovered that they can also eat small turtles or alligators in addition to fish. However, I was unable to find an answer.

“You should seek veterinary care immediately if you suspect your bird has aspirated,” Vaughn advised. “Radiographs will probably be taken in an effort to pinpoint the substance’s location in the respiratory tree or air sacs. ”.

According to Vaughn, trying to remove the choking object with a cotton swab is incorrect. Instead, he suggests gently turning the bird upside down without holding its head down when it clearly aspirates, like when a baby bird chokes on formula during hand-feeding. This makes it possible for the object to be removed by gravity and the bird’s natural jaw movements.

To treat a choking issue, an advanced procedure called endoscopy may be required to remove the substance causing the choking. Additionally, according to Vaughn, treatment with antibiotics or antifungals might be required to stop secondary infections.

Sam Vaughn, DVM, Dip. The symptoms that your pet bird is choking could be overt or covert, according to ABVP-Avian Practice. He said that a bird might start stretching its neck and struggling for air. In other situations, the bird will make a faint sound, similar to a cough, that is easily missed.

Birds lack the diaphragm that divides the chest from the abdomen, so they cannot be choked and should not be performed the standard Heimlich maneuver on a human. On the other hand, you can still try to remove a suspected seed hull or small object stuck in the trachea (windpipe) from a bird by quickly and carefully compressing the keel inward while positioning the bird upside down.


How do I know if my bird is choking?

ABVP-Avian Practice, said the signs that your pet bird is choking may be obvious or subtle. A bird may begin extending its neck, gasping for air, he said.

Do birds ever choke on food?

Food passing into the trachea, the cause of most human choking, is not the answer. Birds often don’t shred their food, opting to swallow the food whole (more on this later). The examples of a bird actually choking is when the item being eaten is so large it blocks the opening to the trachea, cutting off air movement.

Can birds get something stuck in their throat?

If he has something irritating or stuck, he’ll act this way for a short period of time, like an hour or two, then act quiet and subdued for a few hours, then start to return to normal. If he continues to retch he needs to be seen by a veterinarian familiar with birds tomorrow.

Can birds breathe while swallowing?

Even the most modest meal can take 10 or so minutes to swallow, so they have something in their mouths, behind the tongue, called the glottis. When not in use, they are closed, but when swallowing, they can extend the glottis out of the mouth to continue breathing.