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Sunshine Vet Talk

Archived Questions Answered By:

Our Resident Veterinarian, Dr. Rosskopf

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Archived Questions & Answers:

An answer to your question is NOT a medical diagnosis and is only based on the general information provided. These questions and answers do not take the place of proper medical attention for your bird. Always, when you have a concern about your bird, you should take him or her to your veterinarian.


One last note: Dr. Rosskopf is dictating his answers,
so any misspellings, etc. are ours not his.



(1649) Donna asks: My question is this....I purchased Lucy my red front macaw in Feb. she was six months old. I took her to a vet to get checked out they ran every test possible, everything checked out well! In June I took her to a vet, that a local bird store recommend because I was gonna board her while I was on vacation, they needed her to be checked out before I could bring her there, so they did a gram stain and culture test, all was great again! So I boarded her in July for a week, when I picked her up she did not seem herself, I thought it was because she was stressed! I called the vet a week later and told him how Lucy was acting, he thought Lucy should get checked out, so I brought her back in, he tested her again, and there was burkholderia cepacia (heavy) and enterobacter cloacae (light) so he put her on baytril 0.50 2x a day for 10 days! In a month he checked her again then he found pseudomonas acrujinosa (heavy) and enterobacter cloacae (heavy) and alpha hem strep (light) she ! then went on baytril again for ten days. My question is should I bring Lucy to another vet to get tested? I don't know of another avian vet. in the MA area! People told me that baytril can harm her if she is on them so much.....please help I don't know what to do! I clean her cage 2x a day, she seems in great health, eats very well, picking up new words every day! Your advice would be greatly appreciated!

Dear Donna: Has the veterinarian done any blood tests? Have Sensitivities been done with the cultures? Short term Baytril is safe. I would suggest a more thorough exam than just a gram stain and a culture.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1648) Rarepup asks: My Umbrella Cockatoo female mates with my male Military Macaw all the time. She has layed an egg now, can they cross mate like that or is the egg infertile? What should I do with the egg? Should I let her sit on it?

Dear Rarepup: The egg won't be fertile. I'd let her sit on it for a while.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1647) Toni asks: I have a 12 week old budgie, who nibbles on everything in site and from the first day I've had him he will eat then shortly afterwards will start what looks like choking. On average he does it once a day that I have actually seen him. (It looks like he is going to vomit or something - he sort of coughs chirps and strains his throat all at once once he actually spat out a seed, it seems to last for between 10 and 30-40 seconds and is quite alarming to watch him) I wasn't sure if it was some kind of regurgitation process or there is something seriously wrong with him. But last week we got another budgie that he is now best mates with - and the other budgie doesn't do this (but they do eat from each others beaks at times. I was going to take him to a vet but the chances of him actually doing this at the time are very slim. Do you think there is something wrong with him?

Dear Toni: Do take him to an avian veterinarian and have him examined thoroughly.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1646) Margaret asks: I have two canaries that do not whistle much since their last molting. They are in separate cages and both are male birds. They are both healthy or appear to be. They are given thistle and endive quite frequently. What can the matter be? Hoping that you may be able to help. Thanks, Margaret.

Dear Margaret: They may be ill. They may simply be content in their surroundings. The best singing canaries are usually "Lonely or horny." Have they been examined by an avian veterinarian?

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1645) Brenda asks: I acquired a rescued Blue Crown Conure Bird approximately 4 weeks ago. The band indicates that this bird was hatched in 2000. His beak is extremely long and pointed. Today I noticed that he was rubbing it a lot on his cage. Getting a closer look I found that his beak is beginning to flake. He is eating well and seems to be healthy otherwise. Please advise to what his condition may be. Thank You, Brenda

Dear Brenda: The flaking is usually normal. If the beak appears deformed, there are many possible medical causes, including liver disease and mineral deficiency. Have an avian veterinarian properly diagnose the problem.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1644) Brett asks: My Hawns Macaw was just diagnosed with chronic liver disease, the disease is possibly 2 to 3 years old. She herself is 4 years old and has always been on a pelleted diet. She has mutilated herself twice almost exactly 6 months apart. What causes this disease and what are the next steps in making her healthy again?

Dear Brett: You need to try and find out what is causing the liver disease. Sometimes the only way is to have a liver biopsy performed.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1643) Susan asks: Benny, adult female mustache parakeet, flew down to me on a San Francisco, CA street corner about 3 years ago. About one year ago, after egg-laying, Benny's feathers became discolored. Since most recent molt, new feathers have come in with full color; some old discoloration remains. About 1-1/2 months ago Benny experienced diarrhea. Promptly took her to young avian vet who noted discoloration and a little excess weight, but clear eyes, nares. Routine bloodwork analysis indicated high amylase and calcium levels. Later xrays revealed enlarged kidneys. Consult with radiologist led to speculation of metal toxicity and/or infection. During approximate 2-week period administered course of antibiotic. Benny's stool normalized, increased energy. Cursory follow-up exam revealed minor weight loss, but otherwise Benny appeared fine. Third follow-up examination last week. Benny has regained lost weight and then some. A second round of bloodwork reveals that "her numbers are even higher than before." But vet remains at a loss as to what may be wrong. She proposes tests for zinc and chlamydiosis ... although I observe that Benny does not seem to exhibit symptoms for either. If additional tests eliminate zinc/chlamydiosis as culprits, vet proposes to talk with U.C. Davis. However, my confidence in vet is on the wane. Will Dr. Rosskopf please offer other observations, opinions, options, perhaps even more experienced Bay Area diagnosticians vets that I and Benny may pursue? Thank you very much.

Dear Susan: I would do the zinc and Chlamydiosis tests as advised. There are many excellent avian veterinarians in the S.F. area. If you are dissatisfied, be sure to seek second opinion from someone who is board certified. You could also consider a visit to U.C. Davis.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1642) Julie asks: Cockatoo born 4-15-01 being treated with dsma and antibiotic became sick thought was bacteria first then thought a toxin was given dsma for 7 days, off for two became sick again put back on medication better but not right he is off balance, white stools most of the time had to go back to hand feeding won't eat seed (pecks at them) vet is always gone and I am at wits end trying to keep our bird alive he took blood work. I know this is vague but is there something that you might suggest (vet thinks the toxin is slowing the food from the crop to the stomach) also this bird is full of gas (hear when he does his dropping) xray showed that stomach was full of gas no objects. help

Dear Julie: There are many possibilities here. If you are not satisfied with the veterinarian's approach, you might seek a second opinion.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1641) Jennie asks: I have a nearly one year old female budgie who continually climbs to the top of the cage and slides down the sides and also bites her claws so that she falls off. I am concerned as she has totally destroyed all her tail feathers and I am worried she is going to break her neck/back. She seems to be extremely active and I'm not sure if this is normal behavior. Is there anything I can do to stop her from behaving like this? She is tame and a talker if this makes any difference.

Dear Jennie: It sounds like she really enjoys the slide. It is likely she will break her neck or back. Have an avian veterinarian look at her and the cage setup.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1640) Gloria asks: My budgie was recently diagnosed with a potential kidney tumor (lameness of one leg) by x-ray. What options are available? What are the chances of survival without intervention, or is oncology the best way?

Dear Gloria: Kidney tumors are common in Budgies. Most are malignant, in my experience. I know of no effective treatment. Anti-inflammatory medication may help make the bird more comfortable.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1639) Michelle asks: Affected: 7 yr. old hen Symptoms: large quantity no form stool excreted every 4-6 hours difficulty maintaining balance plucking feathers at vent area weight loss History: good health last egg laying was spring 2001 when soft shell noticed. began increased CA with water vitamins. egg form was round like golf ball. no signs of illness until Sept. 2001 Vet care: 1st visit he said was neurological due to wobbles no other signs. 2nd visit was 4 wks. later when feather plucking became problem and noticed the large stools. Vet did fecal test for bacteria's and all negative. He diagnosed stretched cloaca with inability of peristalsis or poor muscle tone. Given Genta spray for bald skin which appears to have made her vomit. He has advised Vesticulid 1/8 tsp per 4 oz water as a precaution Thank you very much Michelle.

Dear Michelle: There are many possibilities in this case. Chickens have a myriad of problems. Ask about a complete blood panel and radiographs.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1638) Mel asks: Hello. I have had 4 Cockatiels and they have all after their first molt (with me) grown in short, thin ruffled tail feathers. I feed them Harrisons bird pellets, so it shouldn't be their diet. Do you know how I can help my birds grow beautiful tail feathers again? P.S. I raised two baby Cockatiels and I kept one. The baby I kept got the messed up tail feathers and the bird I gave away (eating Kaytee pellets) tail is fine.

Dear Mel: There are many possible problems that can cause tail abnormalities. Have an avian veterinarian properly diagnose the case.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1636) Rachel asks: My Chicken has diarrhea all the time could you tell me how to treat it?

Dear Rachel: This could be due to diet, disease, (parasites, etc.), nervousness and many causes. You should consult an avian veterinarian. Minimally, start with a fecal examination.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1635) N.S.Kumar asks: Hi Dr. I am from India. I have 6 Budgies all 4 Months old. In India there are not many Avian Vets. But there are doctors who treat Poultry birds. I see some green droppings . I suggested a Vet doctor and he suggested to give a tablet called Flagyl-f in drinking water. I didn't see any improvement. Can you suggest my vet Doctor what are the reasons for green droppings and how to treat them. Your Advice will greatly help me in looking after my birds Thanks Regards

Dear N.S. Kumer: There are many possible causes of greenish droppings. Greenish droppings can be due to diet, liver or organ disease, etc. You need to talk to an Indian Veterinarian who treats pet birds. There are many of these veterinarians in India.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1634) Clare asks: Brought an Electus Parrot, had 1 week and died, autopsy could not find anything wrong. African Grey purchased week later that too dies after 2 weeks, again autopsy done nothing, vet put both down to stress. We now have Hahns Macaw parrot still with us after 2 weeks and all is well. Any ideas on what may have happened, followed all instructions and diets.

Dear Clare: Were tissues sent to a professional lab or was just a gross necropsy done? It is unlikely stress alone caused these deaths. If just a gross necropsy was done, a proper diagnosis could not be made by just looking grossly at the tissues.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1633) Page asks: I own a 10 mo. umbrella cockatoo. Is it possible for birds to have brain damage? She has not weaned yet and is low to develop. Sometimes her leg shakes when the "step up" command is given. She has been tested for heavy metals, blood diseases and all major bird illnesses. She just had an upper GI test. All tests were negative. Our vet has been in touch with other avian specialists and the general thinking is that she is brain damaged. What I need to know is how will this effect the quality of her life. Are there problems that have not arisen I should be aware of?

Dear Page: It certainly is possible for a Cockatoo to be brain damaged or mentally impaired. There is no reason why she can't have an enjoyable existence.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1632) Donna asks: Our pet love bird has been a feather plucker since the end of last year. Pathology is negative, we adhere to the requirements in the web site article including cleanliness, good fresh mixes and fresh foods, supplements, etc. The bird has a roomy cage, the company of his son and a cockatiel and many toys to play with and chew. He is not unduly stressed. He likes to bathe. We make much of him and spend hours with him. Antibiotics were administered and did not help. Our vet has decided that this pet is allergic and has ordered a seed and liquid vitamin diet only -- no protein, corn or wheat. We have consequently offered our pet this diet for the past week with no improvement. What do think about this over fat and protein low diet? If a seed diet does in fact turn out to be a benefit for such a bird, what specific seeds and what proportions would be healthy? Our vet could not answer the specifics of this question. I have heard that some birds pick from boredom as some people bite ! their nails. Such a condition is a bit disfiguring but usually not much more. That is not the case with our pet. It is unhealthy, disturbing to all of us and getting worse by the day. Please help. Thank you.

Dear Donna: There are many causes of feather picking, particularly in Lovebirds. Allergic skin disease is rare, in my experience. I don't like the idea of an all seed diet. You might want to seek a second opinion. Sometimes veterinarians temporarily limit birds' diet to see if a response occurs. If it does, the other foods are added to see if a bird can tolerate them, one item at a time.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1631) Sandy Asks: I have a Quaker parrot, I've had him for about 6 yrs. and he's a total of approx. 11 yrs. old. I am concerned about his beak, it keeps flaking and peeling, it worries me, I asked a vet about it years ago and he told me not to worry about it, that beaks were like our fingernails. I am concerned about a vitamin deficiency or a disease.

Dear Sandy: Beaks naturally flake and peal. This is normal, It is always advisable to have a health exam and work-up to rule out medical problems.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1630) Scott asks: I have a new Senegal and a new cage. I wish to add some perches to it but have been warned to only use certain types of wood....such as apple of fruit branches. Can you be more specific about the types of wood to use? Scott

Dear Scott: I would suggest using professionally made perches or varying sizes. "Natural" perches can be difficult to clean and may have sharp edges, etc., (by natural, I'm referring to tree limbs, etc.)

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1629) Mary asks: I have recently acquired a 4 yr. old Moluccon Cockatoo. She has started with self mutilization in the last 8 months. Her previous owner opted euthanasia. I talked her into letting me at least try. So now I'm trying to find help. Please help me save this birds life.

Dear Mary: You have taken on a serious problem bird. This is not uncommon in Moluccans. Have an avian veterinarian examine her. She may have to have a life time collar applied in the worst case scenario but there are many treatments and approaches to this perplexing situation.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1628) Margaret asks: I have a budgie that is about 1 years old and is behaving oddly at the moment. After taking one or two mouthfuls of seed, he is constantly rolling his tongue and licking the side of the cage (leaving a sticky deposit). This continues day in day out. I have just taken him to the vets and he had his beak trimmed but this has made no difference. Can you help?

Dear Margaret: Have an avian veterinarian do a health work-up. There are several diseases that could cause this.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1627) Grant asks: I have just built an aviary and have four cockatiels and two new kakariki's( 1 boy & 1 girl). I got the boy first and he settled in fine, then two weeks later (last weekend) I got the girl< she was tatty when I got her but now she has got worse and a lot of her chest feathers are missing, is she doing it herself? or getting bullied? What can I do to help her stop? Thanks for any help. Grant.

Dear Grant: Have her examined by an avian veterinarian. This may be nesting behavior but you need to rule out disease.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1626) Julie asks: Hello! I was wondering if it would be all right to use fresh cut Non-Bearing Mulberry branches in my Cockatoo cage? I live in El Paso, TX. Thanks, Julie

Dear Julie: Mulberry branches should be OK.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1625) Susan asks: I have a 7 year old cockatiel (male) who started eating its droppings about 2 months ago. Nothing has changed, he is on cockatiel food from the pet store (bonanza), gets vitamins in his water, and other "human" food in moderation. Why is he doing this?

Dear Susan: Have a health check done on the bird. There are many possible causes, including Giardia infestation.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1624) Jean asks: I am a small bird breeder of cockatiels, love birds and once a year Blue Fronted Amazon's. Since last March I have had a large number of eggs that develop 3/4 of the way to completely and then die in the shell. I have never had this problem before. I have increased my humidity to 50 % as we have been hot and dry here. I feed 80 % seed with fruits and veg. All birds have clean food, cages and water everyday. I do use some vitamins. They have cuttle bones and mineral blocks. I breed my birds twice then they rest for a year before I rebreed. We pull babies at 12 days and hand feed them. I am concerned over the loss of babies in the shell. Any help would be appreciated. I usually put wet towels the last few days on the top of the nest box to help with the humidity and we do spray them three to four times a week but not soaking them. I have been doing this for years and have never had this problem. I have not hatched a live bird in two to three months. When I crack the shell! they are fully developed with feathers and sometimes a small egg sack left but they will not hatch. The parents all appear to be healthy and very happy and lay 3 to 4 eggs with at least 3 being fertile. Could this be some type of disease but the parents show no sign of any stress or illness. Thank you for your help.

Dear Jean: This could easily be a disease. Take one to your state or county veterinarian or to an avian specialist for a necropsy.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1623) Diane asks: I have canaries 14 3 gouldions 2 societies in the last 6 weeks I have had 5 of my babies born in June die. they puff up get weak stay on bottom of cage then act like they are drunk, walk around in a circle leaning to one side head bowed some times wings will flap. some of the birds act like they don't feel good, a little puffy. what could be wrong?

Dear Diane: It sounds like you have an infectious disease problem. There are many viruses and other diseases that could cause these symptoms. You need to have a professional necropsy done on a recent death.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1622) Laura asks: My Cockatoo is loosing her feathers I'm not sure what it is ??? Could it be mites or what I am feeding her or could she just be plucking them out. I don't think she has beak and feather disease because she is only just 1 year old. Please help me I love my Milly

Dear Laura: You need to have an avian veterinarian look at her. She may be plucking. She may have a disease problem. Feather loss problems are, unfortunately, common in Cockatoos.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1621) Nora asks: My 6 year old male canary had been sick on and off for several years, wheezing, sneezing, sluggish and then would be active and fine. He was treated several times for possible mites with Ivermectin and occasional antibiotics - but I always doubted mites. My vets were hesitant to run invasive tests on a passerine. His cage mate Tenny(another male)never had any symptoms; but was also given Ivermactin once in case. After a particularly hard 6 months and numerous vet visits; Limone died. Necropsy revealed enlarged liver (which he had lived with for a full year)and spleen due to canary pox. I would like to get another companion for my existing canary since they were very devoted to each other; but am afraid of exposing another bird to possible pox. My vet suggested I vaccinate a new bird before bringing it home as I was told that my other canary must also have pox or at least already has been exposed. I am not even sure who gave the pox to Limone-perhaps Tenny has/had it and is asymptomatic. It has been at least 9 months and Tenny remains healthy but is alone. What are the chances that he does NOT have immunity - and if I bring a newly vaccinated bird in - will it make Tenny sick? Will the vaccine make a new baby canary ill? My vet told me it can actually give the birds pox. Risks? I watched my other bird suffer a great deal and would hate to endanger my other bird. Thanks very much.

Dear Nora: The canary pox vaccine is usually safe. A bird that has had canary pox and survived is immune for life. Chances are Tenny is immune. Ask them to run a routine health screen on the new bird and I would vaccinate it.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1620) Susan asks: My daughter bought 4 red factor canaries for me whilst I was away on vacation, from a pet shop. On my return home I found these birds to be listless thin and not eating much. Also coughing. I went to vet who gave me Baytril and Ivomec. 2 months on the birds are slightly improved but still coughing. they are a little brighter but not as much as one would expect (I have kept canaries previously). I have repeated the Ivomec (5days ago) and they seem somewhat better although they are still coughing. I live on a small Island off coast of England and there is no avian vet in the vicinity so I am floundering in the dark. How often is it safe to use Ivomec or do you recommend anything else? I would be grateful for any information. thank you

Dear Susan: Ivomec is safe but air sac mites can be resistant to it. A newer treatment is Moxidectin. Air sac mites can be difficult to knock out and may require long term treatment. The birds may have several diseases concurrently. Usually we have to run tests to be sure of the diagnosis. I would need more information such as your Baytril and Ivomec doses you are using, how to give it, etc. Baytril and Ivomec are generally a good combination for air sac mites and bacterial disease.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1619) Melinda asks: We are looking for a good treatment for e-colli in parrots. We have had an outbreak in the aviary from a new guest, and are possibly looking at treating everyone. There is not a Avian vet in our local area, we would have to travel approximately 100 miles to find the closest one, who we have never used before. Can you please recommend a good medication of choice that is safe for all birds, ranging from parrollets to severe macaws. We have used Baytril in the past, when the numbers were much smaller than they are now, and are looking for something that won't break the pocketbook but will effectively treat this outbreak so no one gets seriously ill.

Dear Melinda: There are many strains of Ecoli. Ecoli may be resistant to many antibiotics. You really need to have someone do a culture and sensitivity for you. Who diagnosed the problem as an Ecoli outbreak? A good medication for many strains is Squibb's Vetisulid but it may not work for your problem.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1618) Ronnie asks: I would like to be a larger cage for my one budgie. I have heard that you need to be careful about what products you can use as some may be harmful to the bird. Could you please advise me on what products to stay clear of or which are more suitable, I haven't got a very high budget and larger cages in pet shops are well out of my price range. Your help would be very much appreciated . Yours sincerely Ronnie

Dear Ronnie: Many of the industrial materials used to build cages at home are coated with zinc or other harmful products. You need to advertise for a proper birdcage that someone is selling at a reasonable price. Second hand cages can be found in garage sales, second hand stores etc.--

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1617a) DeAnna asks: our parakeet has suddenly a crooked looking face. Upon closer examination it appears that her bottom beak is growing and that is why her face looks crooked. After having her for three years what would cause this. And how do I correct this. Our other parakeet does not have the same problem. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Dear DeAnna: She may have been injured. There are many other possibilities. An avian veterinarian should look at her to make a proper diagnosis.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1617) Pauline asks:My cockatiel has red sore eyes and it suddenly produced stained dropping(green stripes) I have been told it may be psitticosis. I have more fatalities in young birds this year (more than usual) does this sound likely to be psitticosis and if it is what medication can I use. I have been told that if it is psitticosis it could be a very expensive treatment and that it may be advisable to have all my birds destroyed. What are your thoughts on this? I look forward to hearing your reply. Pauline

Dear Pauline: It certainly may be Psittacosis. You need to have the condition properly diagnosed. I don't think treatment is particularly expensive but that is my opinion.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1616) Phyllis asks: Two questions: 1. our male lovebird has started regurgitating layers onto the floor of his tent. it appears he may be trying to fill in one end. I am concerned that he's not eating enough for his own nutrition needs. Help. 2. our probably female 16 year old desert turtle has disappeared for the third year in a row. I think she may have burrowed, perhaps to lay eggs but I can't find her. she has reappeared about a month later the last two years. is this normal behavior? is there anything I can do? thank you for your help.

Dear Phyllis: It sounds like a typical mating behavior to me. Try to keep nutrition as optimum as you can and provide vitamin and mineral supplements for both birds. This will keep happening unless you separate the birds, which may stress them more than the nesting.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1615) Leah asks: Hi I have a 10 year old Conure and we are moving from N.E. Pennsylvania to South Florida. I need to know if there are any special precautions or needs that I should take to make this move easier on Joe. Also I was wondering about wing clipping, they have never been clipped and recently he has been leaving his cage to explore all parts of the house. This can be dangerous as we have 2 dogs, not to mention the fact that he messes all over. Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated. We are moving in 3 weeks. Thanks, Joes Mom

Dear Leah: I would clip the wings for the trip and facilitate handling him in your new home. Has he ridden in a car before? You might try short trips to get him used to the car ride (I'm assuming you are not flying to Florida). Make sure his nutrition is optimal. Have a health exam performed prior to the trip to eliminate subclinical problems.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1614) Arlene & Bob asks: Dr. Rosskopf, We have a pair of peach-faced lovebirds, about 7 months old and which we were told but have not verified by DNA test that they are a male and female. A few months ago, we noticed the rim of the female's vent was a bit red and swollen after she poops. At times it seems she strains, as if constipated, but in minutes succeeds. Other than that, she seems to be in fine health: her droppings look a normal green and white, like the male's, and like him, she is energetic, animated, chirps up a storm, gets lots of exercise, robustly eats a varied diet of fresh vegetables, fruit, and vitamin-enriched seed. What could be the cause of the redness, and what do you advise, if anything? Many thanks for your generous help. Arlene & Bob

Dear Arlene & Bob: She could have a cloacal infection, a partial prolapse and other possible problems. Have an avian Veterinarian diagnose the problem.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1613) Shari asks: I have a 14 month old male Hanhs Macaw. His entire clutch died due to secondary bacterial infection after polyoma vaccine - he is the lone survivor. When I got him at 5 1/2 months he appeared healthy (via avian clearance) though was sensitive to a few antibiotics. About 2 months ago he began to sound and act like a baby again. He had a low level infection (white cell 18,000) and responded to baytril. He was normal for 2-3 days and began regressing again. Due to slight pancreas elevations they added avizyme and hand feed - he then stopped eating (appetite fine prior). He still looked well and his white cell stayed high normal for 3 weeks - then hit 47,600. He almost died! He reacted slowly to the baytril but his level returned to normal in a little over one week. He is still very thin (handfeeding plus he is beginning to eat) and on liver meds and still acting like a baby and not talking. They believe it is chronic and untreatable (other than resolving secondary infectious crises as we can). Aspergillosis and polyoma were negative. Xray revealed enlarged pancreas (did not respond to treatment for pancreatitis), small heart and small liver. This little guy is such a love! any advise would be appreciated - don't want to give up and assume the worst. Other info: Total solids dropped to 1.7 - back to normal 2 days later without treatment. Odd mucousy droppings mainly morning - then normal rest of day - sometimes runny and discolored. Passed blood one time.

Dear Shari: Pancreatic damage can result in digestive problems. He might require digestive enzymes. Have they run a culture on the little guy? Sometimes biopsies are necessary to really know what is going on. Ask about diagnostic endoscopy.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1612) Donna asks: I bought a Congo African Gray yesterday. It was 10 weeks old. They said it couldn't yet fly but they would clip its wings anyway since I lived so far away. Now I am worried that it was too soon. What do you think & what problems will it cause if it was too soon. Thank you very much.

Dear Donna: The wings will grow out. Baby Greys are very clumsy so be careful that it doesn't fall like a rock and hurt itself. If the bird injures its wings the bird might chew on them. Many other things could happen. Just be careful until the bird matures a little.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1611) Gillian asks: I have 2 peach faced lovebirds (Tara & Tino). 1 very plump and loud! (female), the other quiet and more reserved! (male). The male(Tino)does not fly well and is so painfully thin. A couple of seasons ago Tara attacked Tino and ripped all his eye open. After several month his injuries healed and I rigidly followed the veterinary advice I was given. Since this incident Tino has become a changed bird. He seems to be incapable of full flight and seems very week and painfully thin. His breast bone sticks out like a knife edge. However, his eyes seem bright and his stools are fine, but it his lack of strength, weight and ability to fly that concerns me. I have taken him to three local vets in my area, all of whom suck their teeth and say, "lets give him a tonic". I cannot bear to see him so thin, but I cannot find a vet that will help me. Is there any advice you can give me as to what I can do in order to try and get Tino to gain weight. As I say his partner Tara is in rude health and very dominant. If I separate them Tino gets worse and becomes very depressed. You may not be able to help, but any info you might be able to give would be much appreciated. PS: Tino does eat his food and likes a treat now and then but still he remains painfully thin. Tara and Tino are approximately 4 1/2 years old.

Dear Gillian: Have someone run a standard lab work on the little guy. There are many problems to consider. Try to contact an avian veterinarian.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1610) Yvonne asks: What causes crop impaction, What to do for it on a 15 gram 2 year old sparrow.

Dear Yvonne: Certain foods can cause crop impaction. An infected crop can become impacted, as well. Nerve damage may occur. I would need more information.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1609) Robert asks: 21 year old orange wing amazon in mornings stretches his legs and whimpers sometimes moderately loud while in process - like he may be feeling cramps. diet is seeds, carrots, nuts, celery, potatoes, etc. is this a diet problem or arthritis? I live over 150 miles from the nearest "bird vet"

Dear Robert: This could be cramping. These sometimes respond to calcium supplements such as Neo-calglucon in the water (3cc/4oz). The bird certainly may have arthritis. You may have to make at least one trip to the bird vet to have the condition properly diagnosed.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1608) Kate asks: I have a question concerning my mom's two year old parrotlet. In January, she began feather plucking and had literally pulled out all of her feathers in a matter of days. She tested positive for Giardia, was treated, and re-tested negative. But she is still feather plucking. She has been in a collar/neck brace since March but can manipulate her head so that she can still pluck. The collar is constantly readjusted but she finds a way around it. I am really not pleased with any of the vets in their area. Each trip to the vet is expensive and no one has any other suggestions. (They live near Philadelphia - I live outside of Washington DC and am tempted to bring her to my vet down here.) She has every preening toy made but nothing distracts her. Could there be any other medical cause and if its just behavioral, what do you do? She has plucked her legs raw and has pulled out new feathers and bled profusely on more than one occasion. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Dear Kate: These cases are exasperating for everyone involved. She would be classified as a compulsive picker at this stage. These cases are extremely hard to resolve. Try to find an avian specialist. Have a complete health work-up done. Ask about investigating hormone therapy and mood elevating drugs.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1607) Amy asks: Hi Doctor, thank you very much for this informative service. My blue-colored parakeet is sneezing, and he is losing his voice. I took him to a vet who started doxycycline, but he is still sneezing. Otherwise he is not pumping his tail or breathing heavily, but his claws seem more bluish than my green colored parakeet's. Does this have to do with his sneezing or is it possible that that's the inherited color? Thanks again for your help.

Dear Amy: The color may be normal. If he is turning blue from respiratory disease, I would expect him to look very ill with difficulty breathing, fluffing, etc. Ask about nasal flushing. Even if Doxycycline is the drug of choice for her problem, sinus discharge is difficult to eliminate with antibiotic therapy only. Also have cultures been done? Have other tests been done? There may be other organisms present (other bacteria), fungal organisms, etc.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1606) Julie asks: I have 1 female and 2 male parakeets. One of the males (Romeo) has been particularly frisky with the female (Juliet). In the last couple weeks Juliet has become quite plump. How do I know if she is expecting? What is the gestation period? What do I need to do and know? Should she be separated? Does she need more than her bird house? Also, Romeo appears to be kicking at her but at the same time seems to intervene when the other male gets too close.

Dear Julie: Once a parakeet mates, the egg formation process is rapid (~36 hours). Once the egg is laid, the incubation is around 3 weeks. A nest box is usually required. Be sure her diet is optimal. A calcium supplement is a good idea. Egg binding, egg peritonitis, metritis, and other problems are common. Have her examined by an avian veterinarian.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1605) Carmen asks: During the last year my peach face lovebird stayed with my parents in Miami and I just got it back last week. My parents told me that Raphael, the lovebird, had a white phlegm(foam type) and symptoms that made them believe there was something stuck in her throat. Right after my parents brought her back to me, I saw the symptoms. Since she is back, I have noticed wetness in the nostril area twice, her drops are fine, feathers look healthy, she is very loud, and her normal ornery self. This morning, she produced the white phlegm again. She is in the fourth day of "8 in 1 Pro" Marvel Aid antibacterial liquid that must be administer for five days. I am hoping that this medicine, keeping her clean and warm improve her health while I find an avian vet in the area. Can you tell me what this white phlegm is? Thank you.

Dear Carmen: This phlegm is a discharge caused by some infectious agent. Have this diagnosed properly by an avian veterinarian before it gets worse.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1604) Lori asks: Hi, I have a 5-month-old Congo African Gray. Over the past week or so, in the morning her first huge big poop of the day is quite foul smelling, the odor smells similar to vomitus. The rest of her droppings throughout the day have no odor and appear normal. Her daily diet consists of pellets, fresh green vegetables, fresh fruits, grain, carbohydrates, etc. Her weight has fluctuated between 350-362 grams. (Weight checked first thing in the morning after the big foul poop of the day and empty crop.) She is still being weaned and down to two handfeedings a day, I am hoping to be able to drop the morning feeding soon. Thank you, Lori

Dear Lori: What you describe is very abnormal. Take her to an avian veterinarian A.S.A.P. and have a poop culture and other appropriate tests done.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1602) Jennifer asks: West Nile virus was found in a crow in Florida. I live in Florida and have an Eclectus. Can she be infected with West Nile Virus from mosquitoes?

Dear Jennifer: Probably not but we are all concerned about the disease. Do the best you can to keep the mosquitoes away from her and contact your local veterinarian about the status of this new disease in your area.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1601) Leon asks: I have a 2 month old wild bird I rescued, like a sparrow with a long beak(maybe a tree crawler finch?). It seems healthy in all ways, but one. It does not seem to be able to grow full length tail feathers. They seem to start growing and break off and become tattered on the ends. The rest of the feathers are perfect. This bird should have fairly long tail feathers. I started it off with ground dried dog food as a mush and now eats lots of meal worms, crickets and misc insects, it doesn't like seeds. As a result of no long tail feathers, it has difficulty controlling its flight. Ideas?

Dear Leon: Tails can easily be injured in young, wild birds. The clumsiness that ensues may continually re-injure the tail. Some ratted feathers may need to be pulled to encourage rapid replacement of new feathers. The tail base may be damaged or infected. An avian veterinarian should give you an opinion.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1600) Anna asks: I have a baby budgie named Rocky. I have noticed recently that the area around his beak has turned a slightly pink color. The pink color is noticeable around his nostrils. Does this signify an infection? What should I do? Sincerely, Anna

Dear Anna: There may be a discharge present. Sometimes pigment changes occur normally. Have an Avian veterinarian look at him.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian

(1599) Joan asks: I have read several articles suggesting the use of Fenbendazole as a safe de-wormer for birds. But I cannot find any information on dosing. What is the recommended dose for parrots, and is there an established maximum safe dose?

Dear Joan: Fenbendazole is an excellent de-wormer for birds. There are pastes, gels and powders available. Are you sure your bird has worms? The traditional dose of the paste is usually .10cc per 100 grams but there are some species variabilities.

W. J. Rosskopf, Jr. DVM, Dipl-ABVP-Avian



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