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August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 7542
Experience:  Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author
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My 6 year old parakeet had a regurgitation episode on Saturday.

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My 6 year old parakeet had a regurgitation episode on Saturday. At one point it looked like there was mucus in his beak. This lasted about 5 hours then he seemed to recover. Since this time, he is drinking a lot of water and only eating his millet and egg stick. I've put fresh seeds out for him, but he doesn't seem interested. He will eat some celery leaves and broccoli though. He's back to his usual chirpy self, but I'm still concerned.
The first thing I have to suggest is that you remove the millet. What most owners don't realize is that the acceptable amount of millet for little birds like this is about a thumbnail size every week.

Big surprise isn't it?

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Next, tell me more about the episode. Was this a matter of something relatively clear and very sticky being flung from his mouth; likely ending up to some degree on the top of his head as well?

Or was it a production of partially digested food delivered in a lump onto a surface or the floor in front of him?


When was the last vet visit and was it a check up or for a problem?


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Well, I found a couple of lumps of sticky seed on the side of his feeder. I smelled them, but no odor. Later on, he pumped his head violently, several times, and that is when I saw the mucus. After that, he was quiet and fluffed out for awhile -( actually, he had stopped chirping when he started the regurgitation). I heard him make several muffled chirping sounds and then, he started his regular chirping routine. He's out in the living room now, chirping up a storm. If I remove the millet, how long should I wait if he doesn't eat his regular seed? He went to the vet a couple of years ago after a stint in the wild - he had gotten out of his cage and flew away. Was gone for 3 months. Vet said he seemed okay after such an ordeal.

Oh my goodness, what a little survivor and how very blessed you are that he came back after so long in the 'wild'.

OK, here's the thing about vomiting as opposed to regurgitation (it sounds like vomitus rather than regurge from your description of 'sticky'):
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Regurgitating vs Vomiting

A bird that bobs its head up and down in a sort of pumping motion, beak open and then a purposeful delivery of partially digested food is regurgitating. This is something they would do to feed offspring or a mate. It’s done by some birds to objects they are particularly fond of, especially if they’re in a breeding season. It might also be done when the bird is nervous or trying to ‘please’ you.
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Regurgitating can be a symptom of crop infection or other problems, but generally it’s a threat because it can lead to malnourishment. If your bird is giving up too much of the food they should be digesting for their own nutrition, the result can be pretty serious.
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http://www.avianweb.com/vomiting.html

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Vomiting is more of a head ‘flicking’ event. The bird will often seem uneasy, pacing or uncomfortable and although the head bobbing might be similar to the regurgitation action, it’s usually more of a shaking and the end result is a very splattered, sticky substance that may or may not include food.
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If possible, collect a sample of this substance to bring to the vet with you.
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When there’s a blood showing in the vomitus it may indicate esophageal or proventricular ulcers.
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The vet will take a look into your bird’s mouth for other symptoms and I’d ask for a swab culture if the vet isn’t going to do one anyway. A good exam will also check for any growths or tumors.
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Vomiting is a more serious symptom and seeing a vet as soon as possible is important. There are far too many possible diseases to outline here, but as in any case of illness, getting it evaluated, diagnosed and treated right away is often the best outcome at the lowest cost.

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The top causes of vomiting in domestic birds are (gram-negative) bacteria, something that may increase to a troublesome point after the bird is stressed somehow. Stress can involve changes in their environment, being frightened, having their sleep hours reduced or other changes in schedules or even a difference in food.
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http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?cls=15&cat=1829&articleid=2418

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The other possible causes are contamination of food or water by fecal matter. Be sure there are no perches above food/water bowls which could allow this to happen without you noticing until after the bird has ingested it.
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Candida (also increased after a stressor) infection or Trichomonas are also causes that should be explored by your vet. When these are all ruled out, the search for a cause can get pretty complicated.
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If you’re dealing with regurgitation, as hard as it might be for you to do, remove the object of your bird’s affection and begin to modify the bird’s light and dark hours to help curb this behavior.
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By changing the cage around, switching up the food and water dishes, taking out familiar toys and adding new ones, you alter the possible triggers. Change the location of perches, or the types, but always keep in mind that the highest perch where the bird will spend most of their standing time should never be a coarse or grooming perch which can cause foot and leg problems. Those perches are excellent options in a cage, just not for long time standing or sleeping.
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Take a look here for more about sleep, sleep cages, open perches and lots more www.4AnimalCare.org/birds

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For a makeshift brooder: Use an appropriately sized box lined with soft clothes like tee shirts. It should be like a ‘nest’ for your bird, not too big. Tuck in more materials to make an oversized box ‘smaller’ on the inside if necessary.
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Use a thick, clean sock and fill it ¾ with plain, raw white rice. Knot the end and microwave it for about 1 ½ minutes.  Shake it afterwards to distribute the heat and be sure it's not too hot.  Tuck this in just under the cloths. The heat should last a couple of hours and even though it’s dry, raw rice - it’s a moist heat. You can use two socks if you feel it’s appropriate.
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A heating pad under the box is also helpful, set on low.   This is one of the few times I’d ever use both heat sources if necessary to maintain incubation temp (approx. 90 degrees F, 32.2 C). If you use the heating pad - I’d only use one rice sock, if any at all. Be sure you only put the heating pad underneath ½ of the cage bottom so the bird has the option of moving to a ‘cooler’ side.
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 If ever using an electric source for heating anything in anyway, please be vigilant and constantly double checking carefully.
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Gently drape a light cover over this box to further help hold heat in and keep light low.
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You might also want to put a vaporizer in the area - no meds in it. The warm, steamy air is helpful for just about anything that might be wrong. Not a cure, but helpful.
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If you prefer to stick with the cage:
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Putting a heat source into the cage may be necessary. I prefer a non electric source and use rice socks.
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Use a thick, clean sock and fill it ¾ with plain, raw white rice. Knot the end and microwave it for about 1 ½ minutes. Shake it afterwards to distribute the heat and be sure it’s not too hot.

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You can layer a thick towel on one side of the cage, secure with clothespins out of the reach of the bird’s beak – then clip a heating pad over the towel and set on low. Check often to be sure it’s not overheating and that the bird isn’t gnawing through. A side attachment like this will allow the bird to move closer or away as needed.
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--- And to find out what is best for feeding and how to start right now with what's likely in your own kitchen:
www.4AnimalCare.org/birds

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Be sure to let me know if there's ANY questions you still have ok?



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(References:
http://www.theveterinarian.com.au/clinicalreviewcve/article300.asp
http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?cls=15&cat=1829&articleid=2418


August Abbott, CAS and other Bird Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you. I feel like I have a place to start anyway. He started to take a seed from the feeder this morning, but put it down, very odd. He ate egg stick and a few greens though. I guess I'd better find an avian vet.

-- Though specialized avian vets are ideal, any vet who sees a majority of birds or at least 1/3 of their practice consisting of birds is a good choice.
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If you have a Pet Smart, you have Banfield Clinic inside, open 7 days a week and they see birds.
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If you have a Pet Co, they have a list of vet names that they use for themselves and are happy to give you, ask for 'bird vets'.
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Ask any vet in town who they'd recommend for bird care. Ask any good breeder in town who they use (if they don't use anyone, they are not a good breeder, stay away from them).
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Find an avian vet near you
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http://aav.org/search
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http://www.parrotpro.com/avlist.php
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and
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http://veccs.org/hospital_directory.php
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These days, with birds growing fast in popularity as in home companions, many DVM’s are quite experienced and able to see and treat many birds. If you have a pet store that sells birds or know of any bird breeders – ask them who they use for their bird care.
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While Board Certified Avian Vets are the ideal choice in most cases, it’s not necessary. I’ve met BCAV’s that I personally feel shouldn’t be allowed in the same room as a bird, and I know ‘regular’ vets that specialize in avian care to the point of being published with the American Veterinary Medical Association repeatedly and highly sought after for information, input and personal research.
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If you have a Pet Smart in town you may have a vet for your bird. Most Pet Smart’s now have a veterinary clinic inside and many of them will see birds (open 7 days a week too).


Please let me know how you make out. I'm here to support both of you!




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