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 Post subject: A to Z of Avian Medications
PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2007 4:19 pm 
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When your bird is sick, you take it to your vet, some tests are run and evaluated, and then a medication is prescribed. When administered as directed for the correct length of time, your bird gets well. That seems very straightforward, doesn't it? However, the simple act of choosing the correct medication for treatment is based on many different factors. Let's take a look at the complicated and confusing world of avian medications so we will have a better understanding of this subject.

There are many medications used in avian medicine today. Veterinarians may choose to prescribe from drugs developed for human use, those labeled for use in dogs and cats, medications compounded from a pharmacy or less commonly, from those actually developed and labeled for use in birds. How a veterinarian chooses a drug to dispense depends on many factors, including the species of the bird, its age, its general condition, what type of disease it has, testing results, drug cost, drug availability, how the drug is formulated (pill, oral suspension, injectable, etc.) and personal choice. Drugs can be given orally, by injection, by nebulization, topically (in the eye, ear canal, etc.), in the cloaca or possibly by a transdermal patch.

Medications usually have two names, the chemical name that is used to describe the drug, and the trade name that is the name given by a drug company to identify their brand of that drug. For example, there are many trade names for the drug combination, trimethoprim/sulfa, including BactrimTM and SeptraTM. For this reason, it is less confusing to use the chemical name when discussing a drug. Also, readers in other countries will probably not be familiar with trade names of drugs in our country and vice versa.

A:antibiotic, one of a group of medications that are used to treat bacterial infections. Some are called broad-spectrum and are used to treat a wide variety of bacteria. Other are used to treat a specific group of bacteria (Gram positive, Gram negative, aerobic, anaerobic). Some antibiotics kill the offending bacteria (bacteriocidal), others just prevent the bacteria from reproducing (bacteriostatic).
aerobic bacteria, bacteria that grow in the presence of oxygen
anaerobic bacteria, bacteria that grow in the absence of oxygen
ampicillin, an antibiotic in the penicillin family, not often used in avian medicine, since many bacteria that cause avian infections are often resistant to it
amoxicillin, an antibiotic in the penicillin family, not often used in avian medicine, since many bacteria that cause avian infections are often resistant to it
amoxicillin and clavulanate, a combination of drugs that makes amoxicillin more effective in treating some bacterial infections
amikacin, an aminoglycocide (as is gentamicin), a potent antibiotic that must be given by injection, as it is not absorbed orally, can cause deafness and/or kidney damage, so fluids should usually be administered during injections to prevent kidney damage, may also be used in nebulization therapy
amphotericin B, a potent antifungal agent, used for treating aspergillosis, given by intravenous injection, nebulization, or directly into the trachea, is toxic to the kidneys, also available in topical cream
aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), potent anti-inflammatory, useful for musculoskeletal pain, also will bring fever down
butorphanol, a pain medication and cough suppressant, used to treat pain in avian patients
ciprofloxacin, broad-spectrum antibiotic, made for human use, often used in avian medicine, was in the news during anthrax scare because it is a first choice antibiotic for treating that disease, is a fluoroquinolone, in the same family of antibiotics as enrofloxacin (BaytrilTM)
cefotaxime, in the group of cephalosporins, an injectable antibiotic that crosses the blood-brain barrier, can be used to treat susceptible bacterial infections in the brain, and also useful for serious susceptible bacterial infections elsewhere in the body
cephalexin, also a cephalosporin, can be given orally to treat susceptible bacterial infections, may be good for deep skin infections
chloramphenicol, an older antibiotic that is bacteriostatic, chloramphenicol palmitate not available in U.S., but can be compounded, can be given orally, in humans and animals, can cause dangerous anemia
chlortetracycline, an older member of the tetracycline family, formerly used to treat psittacosis (Chlamydophila), oral preparation, however doxycycline is preferred
clotrimazole, an antifungal used as an adjunct to aspergillosis treatment, can be administered into air sacs, into the trachea, topically or by nebulization
calcitonin, a hormone used to treat metabolic bone disease
chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone used to inhibit egg-laying, also used to treat feather-picking due to sexually related disorders
calcium EDTA, preferred initial drug to chelate lead or zinc related to toxicosis, given by injection
carprofen, oral or injectable for pain relief
chelating agent, a drug used to bind toxic elements (lead, zinc, iron) and remove them from the body safely
cortisone, a corticosteroid that should be used with extreme caution in avian patients due to immunosuppressive properties
cisapride, an oral medication to stimulate gastrointestinal motility, increases gastric emptying rate
celecoxib, a COX-2 enzyme inhibitor, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, used to control symptoms of Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD), is not a cure
doxycycline, a very effective drug for treating psittacosis (Chlamydophila), can be given orally, is bacteriostatic, also available as an injectable preparation that will provide blood levels for one week with just one injection (however, this drug preparation is not available in the U.S., also used to treat susceptible bacterial infections and mycoplasmosis
dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA), preferred oral chelator for lead toxicosis, effective for zinc toxicosis
diazepam, used for sedation, seizures, can be used with anesthetic agents, oral or injectable
dexamethasone, a potent steroid, anti-inflammatory, used for shock and trauma, may predispose a bird to aspergillosis and other fungal infections
diphenhydramine, antihistamine, used for allergic feather-picking
enrofloxacin, broad-spectrum antibiotic, useful for a wide variety of infections, injectable (can be given orally), tablets, also available in a 3.23% solution for poultry that can be administered orally, multiple injections should not be given, as they can cause serious tissue damage, pain and nerve damage
fluconazole, antifungal medication, fungistatic, useful for treating Candida yeast infections, can be combined with nystatin, another treatment for yeast
fluoxetine, used as adjunctive treatment for depression-induced feather-picking, antidepressant
flucytosine, an antifungal, fungistatic, can be used prophylactically in raptors and waterfowl to prevent aspergillosis, may be used as adjuvant for aspergillus treatment
fenbendazole, an antiparasitic drug, not recommended for routine use in avian patients as it can be toxic, perhaps fatal in some species, and other antiparasitic drugs are safer and as effective
furosemide, a diuretic, helps remove excess water from tissues, causes increased urination, can be used in treatment of heart failure, fluid build-up in tissues or celoem
gentamicin, an aminoglycoside, can cause deafness and kidney disease, not absorbed orally, used in some eye preparations, can be nebulized or given by injection, not recommended for injectable use as safer, newer aminoglycosides are available
glipizide, an oral agent that can be used in the management of diabetes mellitus
halothane, an older inhalation anesthetic agent, not usually used in avian patients
hydrocortisone, a steroid that should be used with extreme caution in avian patients due to immunosuppression, in some topical agents
haloperidol, an oral medication used for behavior disorders and for frustration-induced feather-picking
hyaluronidase, added to sterile fluids for injection, causes increased rate of absorption of fluids (such as lactated ringers solution) when administered subcutaneously, in some cases, replacing the need for intravenous or intraosseous fluids
itraconazole, an oral antifungal agent used in the treatment of aspergillosis
ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug, can be given orally, injectably, or applied topically, effective for mites, lice (ectoparasites), may not be as effective in eradicating ascarids, other nematodes
insulin, injectable hormone for lowering blood glucose levels in diabetes mellitus, appears to have very short duration of activity in avian patients
isoflurane, an inhalation anesthetic agent that is very safe for use in avian patients
ketoconazole, for systemic fungal infections including aspergillosis, candidiasis, may cause regurgitation, also may cause adrenal gland suppression, so can be dangerous for use in stressed birds, safer antifungal is available for treating candidiasis (fluconazole)
ketamine, injectable dissociative agent, may be combined with other injectable medications to provide anesthesia
ketoprofen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent, for analgesia, arthritis
lincomycin, an oral or injectable antibiotic used for skin infections, pododermatitis, bone infections
leuprolide acetate, a depot drug to prevent ovulation, may be useful for sexually-related feather-picking, for use in reproductive diseases, may be helpful in sexual aggression cases
levothyroxine, treatment for hypothyroidism, obesity, lipomas, however hypothyroidism cannot be diagnosed by just one solitary thyroid test, hypothyroidism is very rare in pet birds, is probably over-diagnosed
metronidazole, an oral or IV injectable bacteriocidal antibiotic/antiprotozoal agent, tablets are very bitter and should not be crushed before use, oral suspension is not available in this country, but can be compounded, treats anaerobic bacteria (such as Clostridium), treats Giardia and other GI protozoal flagellates, seems not as effective in eradicating Giardia as many isolates seem to be resistant now, so for treating Giardia, ronidazole may be a better choice
methylprednisolone, corticosteroid, anti-inflammatory, may predispose a bird to aspergillosis and other mycoses, should be used with extreme caution
metoclopramide, an injectable or oral medication used for gastrointestinal motility disorders (regurgitation, slow crop motility)
nystatin, an oral suspension used to treat candidiasis (yeast infection), medication must contact the organism, so used most often to treat oral or gastrointestinal candidiasis, some isolates of Candida are becoming resistant to nystatin, so it may be used as a carrier for fluconazole (a systemic antifungal agent), any baby bird on an antibiotic should also receive an antifungal agent to prevent secondary candidiasis
oxytocin, a drug for use in humans and mammals that causes uterine contractions and milk letdown, has been used by injection in cases of egg-binding, however, since birds are not mammals, this is not the best, most effective drug to use, but it may help a hen lay an egg in certain cases
prostaglandin E2 (dinoprostone) gel, for use in cases of egg-binding, placed into cloaca, will help deliver an egg (if egg is not too large, there are not any complications, etc.)
prednisone, prednisolone, corticosteroids that are anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive, may predispose birds to aspergillosis and other fungal infections, should be used only with extreme caution (either orally, topically or injectably)
piperacillin, injectable antibiotic in the penicillin family, good broad-spectrum
penicillin G (procaine), the procaine in this injectable preparation used in small and large animals is very toxic in avian species and should not be used if safer antibiotics are available to treat the condition
phenobarbital, an oral medication that can be used to try to control seizures in avian species, especially in cases of epilepsy
pyrantel pamoate, an oral dewormer that is very safe and effective to remove intestinal roundworms, and other types of intestinal worms (except for tapeworms)
praziquantel, a dewormer that can be used to remove tapeworms and some flukes, can be administered orally or by injection
pyrethrins, topical preparation used to remove lice, mites, stick-tight fleas
quinacrine, oral medication rarely used to treat malaria (Plasmodium) in avian species
ronidazole, oral antiprotozoal medication, very safe and efficacious for treating giardiasis in avian species (however, not produced for use in the U.S., but is available through companies in this country that import the medication for use in pigeons)
sulfachlorpyridazine, powder antibiotic for susceptible bacterial infections of the gastrointestinal tract, also used to treat coccidiosis
sulfadimethoxine, an oral and injectable medication used to treat coccidiosis (a type of protozoa)
sevoflurane, newer inhalation anesthetic, similar to isoflurane, provides more rapid recovery
tylosin, older antibiotic, used in nebulization, also orally to treat susceptible bacterial infections, also can treat Mycoplasma and Chlamydophila, however not the recommended drug for those infections
trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (or sulfadizine), oral, injectable bacteriocidal antibiotic combination, used for susceptible organisms
triamcinolone, a corticosteroid often found in topical preparations used for dogs and cats, can be dangerous when used topically in avian species, may predispose to aspergillosis and other fungal infections
tetracycline, an older antibiotic that is bacteriostatic, was used for treating Chlamydophila, Mycoplasma, spirochetes, rickettsiae, aerobic and anaerobic bacteria that are susceptible, also can be used to treat certain protozoal infections
vinegar, can be used in drinking water (apple cider) to treat gastrointestinal yeast infections, also can be applied topically to mucosa of cloaca (everted) to check for evidence of papillomas
vecuronium bromide, can be used to dilate pupils in avian species
vincristine sulfate, treatment for avian lymphosarcoma, possibly leukemia, given intravenously
xylazine, injectable agent used for sedation (seldom used in avian patients)
yohimbine, used to partially reverse xylazine
zinc, a metal that can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst and urination, found in galvanized metal, some adhesives, some toys, pennies minted after 1982, and more, is associated with feather-picking in some birds, especially cockatoos, can be chelated

This is far from a complete list of medications used in birds, and is not meant to replace veterinary care. Never give your bird medication prescribed for another animal or human. If you have any question about your bird's health, please call your avian veterinarian or schedule an appointment for an examination and lab tests. This information is meant as a reference and guide to help you better understand a medication that was perhaps prescribed by your vet to treat your pet bird.

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