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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 23850
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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I have a chicken that is about six years old. Recently, she

Customer Question

I have a chicken that is about six years old. Recently, she developed a swollen abdomen that appears to be full of fluid. She has plucked the feathers out on her abdomen and I can see that the skin is red and irritated. I washed her and put some antibiotic cream on, which is helping her skin but the more important problem is her swollen abdomen. She is eating and walking around and unless you picked her up it would be hard to realize anything was wrong. I have other chickens who are the same age or older and they are fine. What do you think can be done for her? I don't want her to suffer but if there is a simple treatment I am willing to take her to a veterinarian.
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 7 months ago.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. We don't have many avian vets on this site. Your hen's ascites (fluid in the coelomic cavity), age, and appearing otherwise well is pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of right-sided heart failure. To be most specific, pulmonary hypertension secondary to right-sided heart failure is responsible for the extravagation of that fluid. There are other causes such as liver disease resulting in inadequate albumin (a small protein) production, bacterial infection such as with Clostridium perfringens, and a metabolic disorder called amyloidosis but these causes also result in quite an ill hen.

To answer you directly, heart failure can be conservatively addressed with a diuretic which lowers blood pressure and increases the rate at which her kidneys removes fluid from her body. A diuretic won't be curative but can be palliative. You would dose her directly into her beak once or twice daily. In cases in which a hen such as she isn't a pet but either an egg producer or meat source, she would be culled if only because the expense of her care wouldn't be commensurate to her value to the operation.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 7 months ago.
Hi Deb,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. Michael Salkin

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