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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 25527
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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My Lilac Crowned Amazon seems to be spiraling downward.

Customer Question

My Lilac Crowned Amazon seems to be spiraling downward. About two weeks ago he started falling off his perch at night. His appetite has decreased and he has general malaise. I am his third owner and do not know his age, but he could be in his forties. Is he ill or failing due to Old age?
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. What is the bird's name and age?
Customer: Cester
JA: How old is Cester?
Customer: Chester and age not known. possibility late forties
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Cester?
Customer: he hangs his head instead of holding it upright.
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 month ago.

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Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 month ago.

It's important to note that once a parrot acts ill it's already 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 and within their flock. Chester's symptoms of profound weakness, inappetence, and malaise are important symptoms but they're not pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of any one particular disorder. They do, however, indicate a critically ill bird.

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 Chester's choana - the slit between his oral cavity and nose - and cloaca (vent) may be taken. Whole body X-rays can be quite helpful as well.

Until Chester can be attended to, please heat up his environment to 85F by means of a 100W bulb shined into his partially covered cage (not at night when he needs to rest) or by taping a heating pad set on its lowest setting to the sides of his cage. If he appears weakened remove his perches and put his food and water on the bottom of the cage along with him. Add a water soluble avian vitamin such as Oasis brand to his water at half of the recommended dose so as not to make his water distasteful. Add a calcium supplement such as Calcivet or Calciboost to his water. These supplements are available in pet/feed stores. Avoid over the counter antibiotics designed to be placed in his 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 Chester's diet consisted of, please? Seeds should compose less than 20% of his diet. A diet of mainly seed and nuts has excessive fat, carbohydrates, and phosphorus; marginal protein; adequate vitamin E, and are deficient in amino acids, calcium, available phosphorus, sodium, manganese, zinc, iron, vitamins A, D3 (necessary for efficient absorption of calcium), K, and B12, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, choline, and available niacin. 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 further questions or concerns if you wish.

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