JAMES HARRIS, DVM
Car-sick birds can be acclimated
I have a four-year-old Hahn's macaw. We live on the coast and have had to evacuate a few times due to hurricane threats. My macaw seems to get motion sickness. He throws up and his body temperature rises. I try to keep him as calm as possible, with access to water, food treats and his favorite toys. Is this nerves or motion sickness? My African grey travels just fine.
-- Karen Welch, Charleston, S.C.
Birds can and do become motion sick, just like people do. And like people, they can become nauseated and vomit as a result. Since we have no choice but to pack up family and pets and leave when a hurricane or another serious danger threatens our homes, all we can do to make the experience easier for a car-sick bird is to try to acclimate him beforehand. This will take a bit of effort, but here's what you should do to get him used to the vibration of the engine and the movement of the automobile: Several times a day, take your bird out to the car in his cage and place him on the seat for a few minutes. Gradually lengthen the time. Once he seems comfortable sitting in the car with the engine off, start the engine and let it idle for a few minutes. If he takes this well, drive him a short distance. Repeat several times a day, gradually extending the distance driven. It may take some time, but most animals eventually adjust to car rides.
James Harris, DVM is owner and medical director of the Mayfair Veterinary Clinic in Sandy Bay, Tasmania, Australia. He founded Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Oakland, Calif., and has served as medical director and chairman of the board for the International Bird Rescue Research Center in Berkeley. Dr. Harris' numerous professional honors include California and National Bustad Companion Animal DVM Awards.
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