Baytril for Birds

Disclaimer: The information on this website is gathered from many sources and presented by a ay individual. It may not be accurate or complete. It should not necessarily be considered expert advice. Some medicine uses below are off-label & not USDA-approved, and should only be used when authorized by your veterinarian.

Baytril is a powerful antibiotic that is effective for a large number of bacterial & mycoplasmal infections, including pasteurellosis, mycoplasmosis, coli-bacillosis, coli-septicaemia and salmonellosis. Baytril is the brand name for Enrofloxacin, which is a powerful bactericidal medicine in the Fluoroquinolone class, which is a derivative of Quinolines.

Treatment in severe Chronic Respiratory Disease (CRD)

CRD is a common problem that has some symptoms that make chickens seem to have a "cold." Birds that get well still become chronic carriers & may have symptoms re-appear during later times of stress. CRD is usually caused by Mycoplasma Gallisepticum (MG), Mycoplasma Synoviae (MS) and/or Infectious Coryza, though it may be possible for E. Coli, chronic Infectious Laryngotracheitis (ILT), and other conditions to be involved.
Baytril may be very useful in treating many cases of CRD / Air Sacculitis.
  • Findings in some cases of some strains of MG, Fluoroquinolone medicines, such as Baytril, have appeared to eliminate the MG bacteria, but there have been contradicting findings. (1, 2, 3)
  • However, at the same time, in birds' digestive systems, Baytril also impacts Campylobacter bacteria, which are not related to the MG. Campylobacter generally does not cause birds to have health problems, but can cause significant risks to people. Campylobacter and other bacteria exposed to Baytril in poultry may develop resistance to Quinolines. Birds may recover from MG and seem healthy. However, the birds may from then onward carry Quinoline-resistant Campylobacter bacteria that is particularly dangerous for people. The offspring of Baytril-treated birds can also carry Quinoline resistance. (Also see "Dangers for Meat and Eggs" below.)

Dosage

0.25 ml or cc of 10% liquid per day for a 5-lb. bird.

  • Dose would be split in half & give twice a day for more constant treatment, or given continuously in drinking water (PP does not recommend in drinking water, since birds are very reluctant to drink it, though the addition of Xylitol might possibly help some).

Treatment period

For salmonellosis or pasteurellosis: 5-10 days
For other conditions: 3-5 days (or up to 10, if necessary)
*One set of experiments has seemed to indicate that a 2-day treatment at 0.625 ml Baytril per day for 5-lb chicken may be possibly preferable for some conditions instead of the generally recommended 5 days at a 0.25 ml dose, but this has not been thoroughly researched.

Reducing disease transfer through eggs to chicks

If hens have MG, giving them Baytril during the time when hatching eggs are laid does not comprehensively eliminate, but greatly reduces the transmission of MG to chicks.

Combinations to avoid

  • Direct sunlight will inactivate Baytril. If giving in drinking water, place bowl in shade.
  • Minerals such as calcium, magnesium & iron significantly reduce absorption of Baytril during digestion. Try to avoid giving these to a bird for at least a couple hours before & after dosing with Baytril.
    High levels of these minerals may be found in dairy products, some nutritional supplements, calcite, formulated feeds, hard water, etc.
    • Some research seems to indicate that when treating with Baytril, it may actually be beneficial to also give calcium spaced a couple hours before Baytril dosing, but the optimal timing sequence has not been researched thoroughly & may require other treatment modifications to avoid problems.

Methods of administration

An optimal method

Medicine can be given orally down the throat via a human syringe, which you can buy at a pharmacy for people. A 1-cc size syringe is best for accurate, small measurements. If the syringe comes with a needle, be sure it is a kind that can be removed.
  • This "force-feeding" or "gavage" method can also be used to feed soft food or supplemented liquids to a sick bird that is starving or weak from not eating enough.
    • You can also use a larger syringe & flexible fish aquarium tubing (Use a match to slightly melt the feeding end so it won't scrape the throat) to "tube-feed" larger quantities of food. See video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtHvRkdskwY.
*Note: Baytril Injectible can be given by mouth instead of injection.
  1. If the bottle has a removable lid:
    1. Remove the needle from the syringe & discard the needle.
    2. Place the medicine bottle in a stable, slightly larger container (such as an empty tin can) that will help keep it from tipping over & spilling.
    3. Open the medicine bottle & insert the (needle-less) syringe.  Pull the plunger back to draw the appropriate amount of medicine into the syringe. Remove syringe from bottle.
  2. Place the bird on your lap and restrain it in your arms.
  3. [These suggestions on how to position your hands are approximate. Experiment with what works best for you.] Put your left hand to the side of the chicken's head, with the thumb behind its head/neck. Be careful that you don't press against the bird's eyes.
  4. Take your right forefinger, and push it against the side of the bird's beak until it opens its mouth. If you're right-handed, when the bird opens its mouth, push the forefinger of your left hand in across the mouth from side to side inside the beak and keep it there so your finger acts as a wedge to keep the mouth open.
    • The bird will STRONGLY resist this. Patiently persist. Once you have your finger put in place, within a few seconds the bird will suddenly stop squirming & sit still.
    • Birds mostly try to open their mouths to get away from your finger. They rarely bite hard while you do this, and they can't bite as hard with their beak in this wide open position.
  5. Tilt the bird's head back so the beak almost points skyward; then the throat passage will be straight & it will be easy to insert the syringe.
  6. Hold the syringe in your right hand and gently slide it past the breathing hole (that is on the floor of the mouth on the back part of the tongue area) and on down the very back of the throat (which is the passage for swallowing). Slide the syringe far in (almost halfway down the throat) to be sure no medicine ends up going down the air hole. Be gentle so you don't scrape the sides of the throat.
    • This sounds intimidatingly risky, but it is actually VERY EASY to see and slide in the right area safely.
  7. Depress the plunger on the syringe to dispense the medicine.
  8. Withdraw the syringe from the bird's throat & take your finger out of the bird's beak.
  9. Hold the bird so its side is close against your body so it can feel secure & burrow its head into your arm. With one hand, hold your fingers flat & pat the bird's outside wing/side in a gentle thumping way to reassure & comfort it.
    • You can tell the bird is feeling more relaxed when it closes its eyes, makes chewing motions, and then makes gentle exhaling noises each time it breathes out. (Note: This is different that the open-mouth breathing a bird may do when in pain, or panting it may do when overheated.)

Other methods

Mixed in water: Baytril Injectible and Baytril Soluble are both suitable for mixing into drinking water.
If possible, minimize negative effects that minerals cause when combined with Baytril, by using distilled water or water that has gone through reverse osmosis.
Baytril is bitter and even thirsty birds will resist drinking it. To make it more sweet & tasty, mix in something sweet. Xylitol sweetener (available in health food section or baking sweeteners section at grocery store) is ideal since it doesn't foster the growth of internal fungi. [Cautions: Too much xylitol will cause diarrhea in birds. Also, keep dogs away from xylitol because it is toxic to them.] Fruit juice and/or sugar can be used if that is all that is available.
By injection: Injections of Baytril Injectible can be given in the breast muscle, but it the muscle can have some soreness & damage, and bird may not feel as well.
By giving pill: A small Baytril pill or portion of a larger pill can be pushed down the throat. For general guidelines, see above Steps 4 thru 8 and 11.
Mixing with food may not be as effective. Many foods contain minerals that cause Baytril to not be absorbed as much during digestion.

Side effects

  • In people, fluoroquinolone-class medications in rare cases have caused serious and sometimes permanent damage (1, 2, 3) to tendons, muscles, joints, nerves, and the central nervous system. It is possible that birds are at risk for similar side effects.
    • Some sources advocate magnesium and other treatments as potentially offering some help in treating such cases in people.
  • Baytril presents substantial risk of negative effects on the development of young birds, particularly in their joints.
  • After being dosed with Baytril, birds' systems may be particularly vulnerable to infections from yeast or other bacteria that is non-susceptible to Baytril, particularly if Baytril had been given for an extended time. To minimize the risk, try to maintain sanitary conditions & to give Baytril for the minimum time needed to be fully effective. You may need to follow up with antibiotic or anti-fungal medicine if problems develop afterward.
  • Because it is very powerful, Baytril can kill off significant numbers of "good bacteria" that normally fight harmful organisms in birds' digestive tracts, although it is said to have less of this effect than many other of the powerful antibiotics. To minimize risk:
    • Try to maintain sanitary conditions.
    • Give Baytril for the minimum time needed for sufficient effectiveness.
    • Give birds' probiotics, such as unflavored yogurt, buttermilk, or a probiotic supplement to re-establish good bacteria. You could try feeding probiotics halfway between Baytril dosings to try to fight the growth of bad bacteria during treatment (though the probiotics will be killed off at the next Baytril dosing), &/or give probiotics after finishing all Baytril dosings.
    • You may need to follow up with a different antibiotic if new bacterial problems develop after Baytril treatments.
    • If a fungal condition develops, it may be necessary to give an antifungal such as Nystatin, or you might try Oxine if timed to not conflict too much with probiotics. Raw, unfiltered cider vinegar has anti-fungal properties & may help, as well (but do NOT combine it with Oxine as the acid might hazardously activate Oxine).
  • There are conflicting reports about whether Baytril has negative side effects on a chicken's kidneys, the liver or blood.

Dangers for Eggs and Meat

MEDICINE WITHDRAWAL TIME
No meat or egg withdrawal time has been approved in the U.S.
Various studies haven't always concurred on time. One study in Europe recommended 7 days for meat clearance for chickens, and 14 days for turkeys. Another study found that eggs and meat cleared of Baytril sufficiently 5 days after chickens stopped receiving the medicine. However, it has not been definitely proven that Baytril will clear a bird's system completely at some point in time.

There have been reports in people of serious damage to tendons, muscles, joints, nerves, and central nervous system by medicines in the same Fluoroquinolone drug class as Baytril (1, 2, 3). It is possible that people may be vulnerable to similar damage when eating eggs or meat from a bird that was treated with Baytril.

ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE
The concerns with Baytril that are considered to be most generally serious are antibiotic resistance concerns. These have caused Baytril to be banned in the US from use in every type of poultry used for eggs or meat.
  • When exposed to Baytril, Campylobacter bacteria can potentially become resistant to other related quinoline medicines for humans.
    • In people, the effectiveness of quinolines is critical in the treatment of some serious infections for which there are few alternative medications. Quinoline-resistant bacteria from Baytril-treated birds and their offspring could greatly impede people's recovery from these infections.
    • Quinolines are also commonly used as treatment for conditions such as food poisoning and urinary tract infections (UTI's).
    • Baytril-resistant bacteria that may have developed in a chicken that EVER took Baytril, could potentially pass through meat or eggs to a person and prevent other quinoline medicines from effectively treating some infections the person might have later in life.

MEASURES TO IMPROVE COOKING SAFETY
Normal cooking temperatures kill Campylobacter. However, if internal temperature of food does not reach a high enough temperature, or uncooked bacteria (such as water droplets from washing the meat) gets consumed, a person may ingest live Campylobacter.

Where to buy Baytril

Poultry: Pet supply and vet medicine stores & online retailers sell Baytril. However, it is illegal in the US to sell Baytril for egg or meat-producing birds, because of possible risks to people who own the chickens or might sell them or their eggs later. Most online sellers would require a vet's prescription for you to buy Baytril for use in poultry. Some vets will sell Baytril directly to you if they determine it would be advisable for your bird's case.
 
Other birds: Small pet birds do not require a prescription, because people do not eat eggs or meat from these. A search online for "Baytril birds" will list some retailers of supplies for small pet birds, and these sellers may not need prescriptions for treating those small birds.