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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 24353
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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I have a macaw that seems to be somewhat hoarse.
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Customer Question

Customer: ***** *****. I have a macaw that seems to be somewhat hoarse.
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: Well, she sneezed a few days ago, like she would if something was irritating her nostrils. No other behavioral indicators. She is having bird PMS, we're waiting for her to lay an egg. Other than that, she's hoarse. Not her usually noisy self.
JA: OK got it. Last thing — JustAnswer charges a fee (generally around $18) to post your type of question to Bird Veterinary Experts (you only pay if satisfied). There are a couple customers ahead of you. Are you willing to wait a bit?
Customer: Sure
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Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 11 months ago.

The change in vocalization you're noticing is often the initial signs that owners notice when their birds suffer from respiratory infections.

It's important to note that once a macaw acts ill they're quite ill and in need of the attention of an avian-oriented vet (please see here: www.aav.org). This is a protective mechanism because sick birds are attacked by other birds in the wild. Her symptoms of are important symptoms but they're not pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of any one specific infection/disorder.

An avian-oriented vet might first treat symptomatically and supportively by providing supplemental fluids and electrolytes by needle and tube feeding a "recovery" food. Blood tests and cultures of her choana - the slit between her oral cavity and nose - and cloaca (vent) may be taken.

Until she can be attended to, please heat up her environment to 85F by means of a 100W bulb shined into her partially covered cage (not at night when she needs to rest) or by taping a heating pad set on its lowest setting to the sides of her cage. If she appears weakened, remove her perches and put her food and water on the bottom of the cage along with her. Add a water soluble avian vitamin such as Oasis brand to her water at half of the recommended dose so as not to make her water distasteful. Add a calcium supplement such as Calcivet or Calciboost to her water. These supplements are available in pet/feed stores. Avoid over the counter antibiotics designed to be placed in her water. They won't be effective if only because an ill bird won't drink enough to medicate itself properly.

Nutritional imbalances are a common cause of illness in our pet birds. What has her diet consisted of, please? Seeds should compose less than 20% of her diet. Ideally, a balanced pelleted diet such as can be found here: www.harrisonsbirdfoods.com or here: www.lafeber.com/pet-birds should be fed as well as hard boiled egg yolk, pancakes and cornbread, the tops of fresh greens, dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, fresh fruits such as apples, pears, melon, kiwi, and berries, vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, beets, asparagus, cabbage, sweet potato, and squash, and even tiny pieces of meat.

Please respond with the additional information and further questions or concerns if you wish.

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