Elizabethan Collars in Birds

Why would my bird need a collar?

Following trauma or surgery, or in the case of a self-mutilating or feather-picking bird, various protective devices or collars (often called Elizabethan or Restraint collars) may be used to prevent a bird from further harming or traumatizing itself.

Owners should not attempt to make or apply their own collar. A collar should be used only under the supervision of a veterinarian familiar with birds, and only in conjunction with ongoing efforts to manage the underlying cause of the bird’s self-harm. The bird’s nutritional, medical, traumatic, surgical, and behavioral issues must be addressed, because the collar is only a “bandage” solution to facilitate healing and keep the bird from harming itself further. The use of a collar without addressing underlying issues will simply frustrate your pet bird and may cause more problems.

What are the available types of collars?

“There are various kinds of collars available, including both commercial products and custom- designed ones.”

There are various kinds of collars available, including both commercial products and custom-designed ones. Collars must be adapted specifically for your bird’s size, specific needs, and temperament. Some veterinarians design and make their own collars. Some are made from carefully padded plastic disks, customized to the size and needs of your bird. Some are soft tubular devices that gently extend the neck, while others are made of thick fleece material. Some collars are soft and some are rigid.

How will my bird respond to his collar?

This is a significant event for your pet and has potential risks associated with it. It is important that the collar itself does not cause further trauma to your bird. Initially, most birds will flap, flail around, and fight to get this "foreign" object off their body, because they do not understand it. Collars must be lightweight so they do not prevent the bird from eating, drinking, or moving around the cage. The collar must not be able to be caught in the cage or on cage items. The collar must be easy enough for an owner to take it off should there be any problems, but NOT easy for the bird to remove.

It is recommended to have the bird stay in hospital for observation after a collar has been applied to monitor how he/she is coping and acclimatizing to it. While in the hospital, the bird may be placed in a padded incubator or cage, to protect the bird while it adapts to wearing the collar. As the day progresses, the bird will hopefully learn to accept having a collar. Then, he/she will be able to explore getting around the cage and learning to manage food and water dishes.

"As the day progresses, the bird will hopefully learn to accept having a collar."

If the bird manages to chew or damage the collar, get around the collar and access the site to be protected, get the collar off, or if the collar somehow harms the bird, it will need to be removed, remade, or adjusted. Some individuals and certain species fight the application of a new collar more than others do. Your veterinarian may use a sedative to help your bird calm down during the adjustment period. Some birds will never tolerate the use of a collar.

What about home care?

"Lack of fecal material means that your bird is not eating."

When you get your bird home, you may need to make temporary modifications to your bird's cage during the adjustment period. Put padding on the bottom of the cage and lower ALL perches in the cage such that if the bird falls, he will be protected and as safe as possible. Food and water dishes must be placed such that the bird can easily bend over and eat or drink with the collar on.

Please ensure your pet is eating and drinking. Monitor your bird’s feces closely. Lack of fecal material means that your bird is not eating.

IN AN EMERGENCY - if your bird is stressed, depressed or otherwise compromised/endangered by the collar, call or seek assistance from your veterinarian as soon as possible.

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