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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 23833
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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She's wheezing. She (orpington chicken) started wheezing

Customer Question

She's wheezing.
JA: I'll do all I can to help. What is the matter with the bird?
Customer: She (orpington chicken) started wheezing this afternoon. I don't know why.
JA: Where does the bird seem to hurt?
Customer: Other chickens are all fine.
JA: Can you see anything that looks wrong or different?
Customer: Nothing looks different about her. I gave her some dried worms and she ate them.
JA: The Veterinarian will know if the bird will be able to digest that. What is the bird's name and age?
Customer: Name is ***** ***** she will be 2 years old in September.
JA: What is the bird's name?
Customer: Toast
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Toast?
Customer: She has always been perfectly healthy.
JA: I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Veterinarian about your situation and connect you two.
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 7 months ago.

It's important to recognize that in any case of respiratory illness, it's important to know if you're dealing with a viral, bacterial, fungal, or parasitic disease. The treatment for one disease may be ineffective or even harmful for others. To make a diagnosis, an avian vet (please see here: will perform several tests including bacterial cultures of the airways, blood tests, and necropsies of dead birds if they're available. Dead birds should be refrigerated - not frozen – until they can be necropsied. Microscopic evaluation of affected tissues is helpful and can be performed at a diagnostic laboratory such as a county animal disease diagnostic laboratory. A fecal test for parasites also should be done. Attempts to isolate virus may be required. Respiratory infections in poultry have several causes but outward signs may appear similar to the flock owner.

I understand that that's all well and good but you might not have access to such a veterinarian. In that case it's not unreasonable to treat what you can treat - bacterial respiratory infections - with the appropriate antibiotics. Tylosin (Tylan-50 at your local feed store) can be administered at a dose of 20-30 mg/lb daily either injected into the breast muscle or orally even though it's an injectable solution. Five to seven days should suffice. Alternatively, tetracycline (Duramycin-10) at your local feed store can be placed in Toast's drinking water as per the label's instructions. Ten consecutive days should suffice. Quarantining her at this time isn't necessary as she has already exposed all of your other chickens. If she's becomes inappetent, however, I would recommend your treating her as seen here:

If you didn't see a positive change in spite of antibiotic therapy consulting with an avian vet is indicated. It's best to approach the diagnostic process with a clear sense of Toast's value to your operation. Although some services such as your county animal disease diagnostic laboratory might be available free of charge through a county agency or land-grant extension office, the expense of some diagnostic tests and treatments can add up quickly. While it’s always worth your time and money to identify a bacterial or viral infection that could potentially impact more than one member of the flock, this might not be the case with a condition that only affects one hen. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 7 months ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. Michael Salkin