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Sore Feet

Expert Question

My Question:
I bought a pair of rosellas in November 2007. I realised at the time that one of them (the male) had sore feet but I didn’t realise the severity of it until I got home. The poor bird had 2 very very sore feet, so sore in fact that he was barely able to perch and was spending most of his time resting his body in the food dish so that he wouldn’t have to put pressure on his feet.

Previously to this experience two of my own rosellas (pale-headed) had suffered sore feet but I spent weeks treating them with antibiotic and antiseptic cream and managed to cure them. Obviously I discovered the feet in the early stages.

I have been treating this poor bird for six months now and his feet are still not better. They are not nearly as sore and lumpy as they were and he is not in as much pain but something else is needed and I would be grateful if someone couldn’t enlighten me as to what is used for pododermatis in birds. The poor bird is so stressed from being picked up 3-4 times per week. I have done a lot of research and have found treatments for rats and other rodents but am afraid that the creams used would not be safe for birds.

I have gone to a few small animal vets for advice but none of them are avian trained and are unable to help me. We have no avian vets whatsoever in the republic of Cyprus.

Would be so grateful for advice.

Gemma Ralph

Expert Answer

Hi Gemma, Pododermatitis can be very difficult to treat.  The main problem is that one of the criteria of treatment is to get the bird’s weight off his feet, an impossible task for an animal who spends most of his time on his feet!  One of the best things you can do for your rosella is to provide clean, soft, padded surfaces for him to perch.  The only ointment I recommend using on birds is Silvadene; place a thin layer on any open sores on the feet daily.

There are many various causes for sore feet in parrots and it is impossible to diagnose and prescribe treatment without actually “laying hands” on the bird.  While small animal veterinarians may not be skilled at treating birds, they are skilled in the art of practicing medicine.  A physical examination has the same elements whether you are dealing with a Rosella or a Rottweiler.  Would your small animal veterinarians be willing to examine your bird and consult with an avian veterinarian via phone or email?  That would be the best thing you could do.  Good luck!

Ellen K. Cook, DVM
About Ellen K. Cook, DVM

Dr. Ellen K. Cook has been practicing small animal medicine since 1975. In 1998, she rescued Merlin, a six-year-old Moluccan cockatoo with many undesirable behaviours, and soon began focusing primarily on avian veterinary medicine and behavioral issues.

Dr. Cook is a member of the Association of Avian Veterinarians, the International Association of Trainers and Educators, the Animal Behavior Management Alliance, and the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviorists.

She has published numerous articles over the years on avian veterinary and behavioural care, and serves as on online consultant for the World Parrot Trust. Dr. Cook has been teaching basic behavior classes to parrots and their caregivers since 2009, and is the founder of Parrots Anonymous, an organization dedicated to educating those who live with companion parrots.

To book a consultation with Dr. Cook, visit the Cicero Veterinary Clinic at