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PETS

Q: This may seem like a stupid question, but I'll ask it anyway. How does one "pill" a parrot?

-- F.W.

A: You don't "pill" a parrot. Here's a rundown of the options when it comes to medicating a bird:

Adding water-soluble medications to drinking water. Adding medication to water is easiest, but it has its drawbacks. There's little control over dosage because you can't count on a bird to drink any set amount of water.

Offering medicated feeds. This has the same pros and cons as medicated water. It's easy to offer medicated feed, but there's no way of making sure any of it gets inside the bird.

Using a syringe or eyedropper. Accuracy of dosage is a benefit of giving medication orally -- assuming it's possible to get the stuff in him instead of dribbling it everywhere but down his throat.

The downside: A bird isn't likely to sit still for this procedure, and he'll have to be restrained by being wrapped in a towel.

Giving an injection. High marks for accuracy, and once the owner is used to injecting the bird, high marks for ease as well.

When a bird needs medication, either short-term or for life, it's essential that the bird's caregiver and the veterinarian are on the same page when it comes to how to administer medication.

One final thing to remember about medications: Keep on giving them even if a bird seems to feel better. Or at least, don't stop early unless your veterinarian says it's OK.

In addition to this syndicated column on pet advice, a locally written column is often prepared as a public service by the Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society. Send questions to Pets, P.O. Box 1252, Buffalo, N.Y. 14205 or to the Web site at nfvs.online.org.