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Birds

  • Egg binding is not uncommon in birds and may be resolved easily if treated early. Egg binding occurs when the female bird is unable to expel the egg from her body. If a prolonged period has elapsed since the bird began attempting to lay the egg, she may become critically ill. Birds with egg binding may or may not have passed an egg more than 2 days ago, are usually weak, not perching, often sitting low on the perch or on the bottom of the cage, and are straining as if trying to defecate or to lay an egg. Treatment varies depending upon how sick the bird is, as well as the location of the egg and the length of time the bird has been egg bound. Critically ill birds are first treated supportively for shock, and then attempts are made to extract the egg. If your veterinarian cannot see the egg through the vent, surgery under general anesthetic may be necessary to remove the egg from the abdomen. A hysterectomy (removal of the oviduct and uterus) is typically the last choice therapy, when medical and egg extraction through the vent are not possible.

  • Egg yolk peritonitis is commonly diagnosed in laying hens when yolk from a developing egg or an incompletely shelled or ruptured egg is deposited within the body cavity rather than passing normally from the ovary, into the oviduct, and then out of the body as a fully shelled egg. The yolk material that is released into the coelomic cavity causes inflammation of the peritoneum and typically the development of fluid within the coelom. Affected birds will often stop laying, become less active, have distended abdomens, and have difficulty breathing. Veterinarians diagnose egg yolk peritonitis through a combination of physical examination findings, blood testing, and imaging with radiographs or ultrasound. Treatment is supportive, with supplemental feeding, anti-inflammatory medication, antibiotics, hormones to prevent further egg laying. With more advanced cases, oxygen therapy and fluid drainage from the abdomen may be necessary.

  • Elizabethan collars are designed to help prevent self-mutilation and as a supplementary therapy for feather-destructive birds. Collars may be designed and made by the staff at the veterinary hospital/clinic or commercially made. Collars should only be used when prescribed by an avian veterinarian. Collars are not always safe for every bird.

  • Enalapril is used on and off label and is given by mouth or injection to treat heart failure, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, or proteinuria. Common side effects include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and tiredness. Do not use in pets that are allergic to it, have an acute kidney injury, or have certain heart conditions. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • Enrofloxacin is an antibiotic given by mouth or in the muscle commonly used to treat bacterial infections in cats, dogs, and off label in small mammals, birds, and reptiles. Common side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of appetite. It should not be used in growing or dehydrated pets, or in cats with kidney disease. Use cautiously in pets with seizures, liver, or kidney disease. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • Erythromycin is given by mouth or injection and is used off label to treat bacterial infections and gastrointestinal motility problems in many animal species. Common side effects include diarrhea, lack of appetite, and vomiting. Do not use in pets that are allergic to it, have liver disease or dysfunction, or in pets such as rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs, or hamsters. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • A feather cyst is a malformation of a feather follicle whereby the feather(s) do not exit the skin, and instead become buried in a cyst under the skin. They can become quite large and be painful to the pet. These cysts require veterinary attention and if injured, may bleed extensively.

  • Feather loss occurs either because the bird is truly losing feathers or because the bird, or its cage-mate, is picking out its feathers. Feather-picking is often a behavioral problem, especially in the larger species of birds (such as cockatoos, macaws, and African gray parrots). However, feather loss and feather-picking can also be caused by diseases that result in irritation or pain for the bird, or damage to, or inappropriate growth of feathers. Your veterinarian may have to many perform several diagnostic tests to rule out potential causes. Treatment of feather loss depends on the cause. Feather loss and feather-picking are complicated problems; for specific advice, your bird should have a thorough work-up by a veterinarian familiar with birds.

  • Our knowledge of bird nutrition is constantly evolving both from heightened awareness of the importance of nutrition and from increased research into birds’ different needs. As with all other animals, birds need a proper balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins, minerals and water. Different species of birds often require different foods.

  • Lories and lorikeets are also known as "brush tongued parrots" due to their unique tongues that are adapted for their highly specialized dietary needs. Lories and lorikeets eat a high moisture-containing diet and have relatively short digestive tracts when compared with other parrots. This combination makes for a very quick transit time of food through the gastrointestinal tract which is why lories and lorikeets eat often and produce frequent and very loose droppings. Lories and lorikeets eat nectar and pollens in the wild. They also consume soft foods like fruits, berries, blossoms, and buds. There are a number of excellent commercially available nectar and pollen substitutes available for feeding lories and lorikeets. Feeding these diets can be complicated, as their high-sugar content makes them susceptible to rapid spoilage once mixed with water. If lories and lorikeets eat spoiled food, they can be prone to developing gastrointestinal tract infections with yeast and bacteria. Lories and lorikeets can also be successfully maintained on several commercially available brands of pelleted diets and tend to have firmer stools when fed pellets. A large variety of diced fruits should be cut up in pieces and offered every day along with nectar substitute or pellets. Lories and lorikeets often use their water dishes to bathe in. Water dishes must be refilled often to keep them clean. Junk food, including chocolate, caffeinated products, alcoholic beverages, and foods high in salt or fat should not be offered. In general, birds eating 75-80% of their diet in the form of nectar, pollen, or pellets do not need supplements.