How To Apply Eye Drops to Pet Birds

Published Apr. 19, 2024
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Birds make wonderful pets, but like any other companion animal, they are prone to having health flare-ups. Eye problems are common in pet birds. These pets can live a very long life, so you’re likely to come across an eye problem or two over those many years, including conditions such as an injury to the eye or conjunctivitis.

Common symptoms of a pet bird eye problem include redness and swelling around the eye, as well as discharge or crusty material in and around the eye area. Your bird may rub or scratch at an eye due to discomfort. If you suspect your bird is suffering from an eye problem, it’s recommended to seek immediate veterinary care.

Most bird eye issues are treatable, and your veterinarian may prescribe eye drops or ointment for you to administer at home, such as Terramycin®. Daily treatment may be needed for a few days to a few weeks, depending on the root cause of your bird’s problem. But you may be wondering—how do you safely apply eye drops to pet birds?

Before You Apply Eye Drops for Birds

It’s important to read all the medication’s directions, including the length of treatment as advised by your veterinarian, and review any special considerations for storing your bird’s eye drops or ointment.

Most bird eye issues are treatable, and your veterinarian may prescribe eye drops or ointment for you to administer at home.

Always wash your hands before and after each treatment session.

Place the bottle open next to you before handling your bird. Be sure to keep the tip of the bottle clean—do not have the tip come into direct contact with the eye, eyelids, your bird, or any other surface.

Gently clean around the bird’s eyes with a clean warm washcloth or gauze before administering the medication.

Handling and restraining your bird will depend on the size and bird. Work with your veterinarian on proper restraining methods to ensure your bird’s safety. It may be helpful to have a second person help you. Birds should generally be placed on the floor and gently wrapped in a small towel from neck to tail to prevent wiggling.

Applying Bird Eye Drops

  1. Position your bird so the eye being treated is parallel to the ceiling.

  2. Hold the bottle in your dominant hand, close to the eye, before administering the drop.

  3. Squeeze the bottle to allow the drop to fall directly onto the eye, using the center of the eye as a target.

  4. Hold the bird for 5–10 seconds in the same position to allow for the bird to blink—this helps distribute the eye drops.

After Applying Eye Drops to Birds

Your bird may try to rub their eye in their enclosure after administration. The use of a recovery cone collar might be needed. The proper fit of the recovery cone is extremely important; a bird can get injured if the cone does not fit correctly. Your veterinarian will be able to properly fit your bird or recommend where to purchase one. If your bird’s eyes become red or irritated after administration of their medication, contact your veterinarian.

Always complete the entire round of eye drop treatment as directed by your veterinarian. Skipped treatments or stopping eye treatments early may result in a worsening eye infection, even blindness or permanent damage to a bird’s eye.

Jessica Hockaday, DVM


Jessica Hockaday, DVM


Dr. Jessica Hockaday completed her undergraduate degree from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, earning a Bachelor...

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