For A Naturally Healthy Pet
Boost the Efficiency
After hearing or reading about the many types of infections and diseases that our birds can succumb to, it would be normal for one to feel at least a bit fearful that one or more of their birds might develop one of them. Psittacosis, Polyomavirus, Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease, Pseudomonas, Giardiasis, and Aspergillosis are some of the infections that are frequently found to afflict many avian species. A bird becomes vulnerable to these, among a number of other bacterial, fungal, viral, or parasitical infections, if it is not in optimum health.
Why is it, you may ask, that the body is not able to defend itself against these diseases? Why do some birds die from these horrible diseases, while many others do not? There is always a reason why a bird succumbs to an infection or disease. There are no mystery diseases. Not every bird that is exposed to a pathogen or germ will develop disease and die from it. A bird must in some way be vulnerable or susceptible to illness or it just wonít happen. Some of the reasons that our birds become vulnerable to infection and disease may be stress factors, dietary and/or environmental inadequacies. It is important to remember that our birds are all carriers of yeast, bacterial and viral cells, but they remain in small numbers and harmless under healthy conditions.
Often times, the death of a bird is said to be caused by "unknown factors" or it is said that the cause was an infection of some type. A host of bacteria or viruses develop that are mistakenly taken as the "cause" of death. The answer is not that the cause was an infection, be it a bacteria or virus. The answer is simple: The reason is that a bird whose immune system is not functioning properly from an inadequate diet, that does not contain all the elements needed to sustain its defense system, will succumb to any number of pathogens. The best cure for ANY illness and disease is prevention. This begins, by providing your bird a HEALTHY DIET. You must treat the cause, not the result. This means that if you do not address the immune system, youíre treating the infection or disease without really treating the cause of the ailment itself.
How then do we prevent illness and disease from occurring in the first place? This is a vast subject that involves every aspect of the lifestyle we provide our birds. From the quality of their diet, to the air they breathe, the water they drink, the exercise they receive, the type of medical care they receive, the stress they experience, to the many other environmental elements in their lives. All of these factors contribute to either their possession of optimum health, maintenance health, or their developing DIS-ease. For our birds to possess optimum health, we must provide them with more than just enough to survive, but enough to flourish and have the highest quality of life possible, which includes emotional, mental and physical good health.
What follows is a discussion about some of the things that you can do to keep your birds as healthy as they can be, and thereby reduce the chance of their bodies becoming home to a number of pathogenic microorganisms.
About the immune system Ė The immune system is a complicated and wondrous network that helps to keep our birds from becoming ill. Our birdsí bodies are designed to utilize clean fresh food, air and water as fuel for energy. Under ideal circumstances, our birds would utilize all of the nutrients and chemical components in this fuel and eliminate the waste. These days it is difficult to do this when foods contain pesticides, preservatives, coloring agents, and sugars. This is much like placing leaded gasoline in a car that requires unleaded gasoline. I believe the best fuel we can provide our birds for optimum health, maximum immune system function and to help prevent illness and disease is one, which contains a wide variety of fresh, enzyme-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and sprouts. Whole grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes are also healthy foods for our birds.
Processed diets are not digested well, and therefore less bioavailable to a birdís body. After the body takes what little is usable from a processed diet, the rest must be eliminated. While your birdís body is a simply amazing structure with incredible resiliency, it will backfire sooner or later if not given the proper fuel. Eventually illness and disease will be a common occurrence, rather than a rarity. A bird with a strong immune system rarely, if ever, becomes ill.
If a bird lives too long in an unclean, overpopulated environment and/or is provided an inadequate diet it will eventually succumb to illness and disease. Diet and environment are the two key factors that you have control over and this can make a big difference in your birdís health. A bird that lives in a clean, stress-free environment, with proper exercise, love, and is provided with a well-balanced diet of fresh foods is a tower of strength against disease of all kinds.
The use of antibiotics Ė Antibiotics are, perhaps, one of the most important medicines we have, but they are among the most abused. Typical scenario: Your bird gets sick, you run to the veterinarian and you come home with a prescription for an antibiotic and for yeast infection prevention, an antifungal as well. Now you may not yet have a conclusive diagnosis of your birdís ailment, but the drugs are dispensed for you to give to your bird anyway.
I believe that drugs should not be used in this manner; it is far too dangerous. I prefer a positive diagnosis prior to treatment with a synthetic drug. There is just too much potential for direct side effects from these drugs (for example, immune system suppression) and it also places the birdís health in jeopardy if the drug treatment given is found to be contraindicated for the specific disease that your bird is later diagnosed with. So, not only may the drugs do no good, but also they may cause havoc with the immune system which helps to fight infection, and may cause damage to other systems and organs of the body.
Before you start giving your bird antibiotics, insist on culture and blood test results to find out if your bird has a bacterial or viral infection, etc. If your bird has a viral infection, donít use antibiotics, they will do no good. If your doctor thinks your bird should be on antibiotics for a viral infection, find out why. Normally, the only time that an antibiotic should be taken is for a bacterial infection. If a doctor tries to give you or your bird an antibiotic, always ask:
Itís always better to be safe than sorry, so ask, before you take that paper with the prescription on it and get it filled. Also, BE SURE youíve been given the correct dosage for your particular bird. The doctor is not always right and we must take responsibility for our birds in that they are not harmed in the process of getting well.
Continuous use of certain drugs, such as antibiotics and others, cause our birdís body to develop a tolerance, which requires a higher, and higher dose of the drug for it to be effective until eventually it stops working altogether. The overuse of antibiotics is prevalent in modern medicine, but many veterinarians, breeders, and bird owners are now realizing their great harm. The indiscriminate use of antibiotics leads to antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria and may lead to other bodily damage.
Our birdís body can also become dependent on certain drugs to the point where it forgets how to function properly. Possibly the most dangerous side effect of some drugs is that eventually the body may not be able to tell the good guys from the bad and begin attacking itself. No matter what organ or part of the body it affects, when this occurs it is referred to as an autoimmune disease. Remember while synthetic drugs may be necessary for some health conditions, they are a foreign substance to the body and are not always handled well.
How to counteract the negative effects of antibiotics Ė Probiotics, such as L. Acidophilus, L. Bulgaricus and Bifidobacterium can be very useful in preventing the proliferation of yeast cells during antibiotic use. They stimulate the growth of the beneficial bacteria, which are destroyed by the antibiotics, and leave less room for the pathogenic microorganisms to flourish. The beneficial bacteria aid in digestion and produce vitamins B and K, which are destroyed along with many other nutrients during antibiotic treatment. Probiotics can be used as a natural antibiotic, antifungal, or digestive disturbance remedy. Probiotics come in a liquid or powder form and can be purchased from your health food store.
Antibiotic alternatives Ė Sometimes antibiotics are needed, but in many cases a natural alternative treatment will be just as effective, if not more so, and without causing the negative side effects that antibiotics can produce in the body.
Echinacea is a powerful immune stimulant herb and is often effective for bacterial infections, which are commonly treated with antibiotics. This herb not only stimulates disease-fighting cells; it helps to create more of them. Echinacea also stimulates the production of interferon, which inhibits reproduction of an invading virus and induces resistance to further infection. It is also known to have anti-tumor and anti-fungal properties. For infections, general usage is from 5 days to 3 weeks, depending on the severity of the infection, and should not be used on a continuous basis. Try to purchase echinacea, which has been cultivated, because some varieties in the wild have been almost totally uprooted due to its popularity.
Goldenseal is also a popular herbal remedy, which is fast becoming endangered and is often combined with echinacea for its immune stimulating and infection-fighting properties, but must be used carefully and only on a short-term basis. Note: In humans, goldenseal should not be used during pregnancy.
Astragalus is a traditional Chinese herbal remedy, which promotes healing, supports and strengthens the immune system, and is often used as a preventative remedy at the onset of an infection. This herb is also used as a cancer-fighting medicine.
Garlic, vitamin C and bioflavonoids are wonderfully effective in strengthening the immune system, thus preventing and fighting infection, and also possess anti-tumor properties. Garlic acts as an antimicrobial medicine and may ameliorate bacterial, viral, parasitical and fungal infections. I use and recommend a garlic extract that contains the powerful nutrients: vitamin A, C, E and selenium. These antioxidant nutrients help your bird to build a strong resistance to infection and disease.
Remember that killing the invader (bacteria) with antibiotics without strengthening the host (the birdís body) will only yield symptomatic relief and will not, in the true sense, effect a cure. While no specific medicine is a cure-all, the body has a built-in ability to heal itself naturally if given the proper tools to do so. Those tools are a healthy diet and environment.
If bird owners and breeders desire to use natural treatments, and they are employed during the early stages of illness, their bird(s) may not require the conventional manner of treatment. However, no matter what form of medicine you choose, whether it be allopathic, herbal, or homeopathic, be sure you do not use it without the proper guidance and unless it is really needed.
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