5 Signs Your Bird Needs a Nail Trim (Pasadena, MD)

Having a happy, singing, chattering bird is every owner’s wish and dream. There are many species of birds from parakeets to parrots that can make the greatest of pets. But from time to time your bird will require a nail trim. Usually around every two months the average bird will require a trim depending on the type of bird, sex, age, and size.

Some opt to take their bird to the veterinarian for a nail trim, but one can also give a much-needed trim right at home. It can be difficult if you do not know the correct way to handle your feathered friend but with a few tips, it can be manageable. Always consult a veterinarian first who is an expert on your specific breed as different breeds have different nail needs.

Bird Nail Trim in Pasadena, MD

How Often Your Bird is in Need of a Nail Trim

Parrots for example need to preserve their long nails, where as a parakeet needs to have regular trims for comfort and practical everyday needs. Before you go in to the veterinarian for your bird’s nail trim you need to first know the signs to look for. Here are a few clues to look for:

1. Excessive Nail Length

Become familiar with your bird and ask the vet what is normal for the species. If you are familiar with your bird, you should be able to tell if it needs a trim. Depending on the species of the bird, routine spot checks of their nails should give you a clue if they are looking long and due for a trim. The bird might be perching itself differently if it needs a trim.

2. Changes in Perching Behavior and Activity

If a bird’s nails are too long it will usually change how it perches itself in the cage. Is the bird standing on one foot? Is it standing on the cage floor vs. one of its perches? If the behavior is abnormal, it might be as simple as needing a trim. Take a quick look at the feet and see if a nail trim is in order. If a more serious problem such as a foot infection or injury, consult your avian veterinarian. If a nail trim is needed you might also notice a change in activity. Your bird may be disinterested in its favorite toy or holding its favorite treat in-properly. It will usually show signs of less activity in its cage or perch.

3. Difficulty Getting Around

Birds are very dependent on their feet for just about everything so keeping them nice and trim is paramount for keeping them in good health. They use their feet for perching, eating, walking, climbing, playing with toys, dancing and pretty much everything. Healthy nails give them the ability to correctly maneuver around. If their nails start getting stuck on things such as bits of food, clothing, parts of their cage or other items, that is a good indication they might need a good trim.

4. Abnormal Patches on the Skin

Birds scratch themselves all over with their nails. If nails are overgrown it can cause sores, abrasions, or scabs on their skin. It is easy for a bird to scratch themselves too hard with overgrown nails, so it is critical to make sure they have a proper nail trim to prevent this from happening. If you notice a missing patch of fur or a sore, it is most likely due to nails that need a desperate quick trim.

5. Hand Scratches

If your bird scratches you while holding them, they might be due for a trim. While it is quite normal to feel your bird’s nails while holding it, it should not be scratching you or leaving a mark while doing so. Anytime it becomes uncomfortable to hold your feathered friend, think about a nail trim first and foremost.

How to Trim Your Bird’s Nails at Home

Keeping your bird’s nails trimmed is important for the overall well-being of your feathered friend. Trimming their nails, while not rocket science, it is important to know how to correctly hold the bird to do so. Birds are sensitive in the way they are held and if done so incorrectly can obstruct their breathing pattern. To properly handle your bird to trim its nails it is best to consult with your veterinarian if you have never tried it. To prepare your bird in being handled start off with the basics.

Holding Your Bird

You will need to wrap the bird in a towel so try practicing this often from day one so when the event arises to trim the nails it won’t be traumatic for the bird. Try and lay the towel on your hand and allow the bird to climb onto the towel while giving treats and giving affirmations such as “Good Bird.” Never hold or squeeze the bird in the chest as they will not be able to breathe. Always hold them by their sides in a gentle manner.


You will need a couple of basic tools on hand to trim the feet. First, have some styptic powder on hand in case you trim to close to the quick, apply a small amount to stop the bleeding. The other essential tool for clipping the bird’s nails will be a specially designed nail clipper for birds. The size you need will depend on the size and type of bird you are trimming.

For a small bird you might get away with using regular old nail clippers but for a big bird, such as a parrot, you will need a clipper that can cut through the thicker nail quickly and cleanly.

Bird Nail Trims Are Important for Everyday Functions

Once again, birds use their feet for perching, eating, walking, climbing, playing with toys, scratching, and moving around their cage. Every two months is a good measure of time to think about looking at their feet for an important manicure for a happy and healthy bird.

If you have questions or concerns about your bird’s nails, call Lake Shore Pet Hospital in Pasadena, MD at (410) 317-2028 or make an appointment today!

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You want only the best for your family and you always keep their best interests in mind. We understand your pet is a part of that family. Our veterinarian's mission at Lake Shore Pet Hospital is deeply rooted in treating you and your pet family how we'd like ours treated. We take great satisfaction in giving back to and developing strong bonds with the communities we serve, including Pasadena, Riviera Beach, and Lake Shore.