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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 daughter's 12 year old parakeet just recently started to

Customer Question

My daughter's 12 year old parakeet just recently started to have problems with its feet. She(the bird) can't seem to grip her perches, and as a result is spending more time sitting/sleeping on a pillow. Her one foot is a darker pink, somewhat swollen and it appears to have some small wart like bumps all over it. Pippi (that's her name) is eating normally, but hasn't been playing/ bathing in her birdbath/water dish. She isn't wheezing or looking sick but my daughter is very worried about her. What do you think we should next?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 1 year ago.
Thank you not only for requesting me, but for caring this sincerely ***** ***** daughter's little one. How nice to know this bird is loved like a family member. The problem you've described is actually not uncommon in little birds like this Fatty liver disease is something that is often seen in a bird on a seed only or predominantly seed diet. No matter how much the manufacturer insists they are fortified and healthy, they are misleading all of us. --- Skeletal problems, deficiencies and even toxicities can cause a loss of balance and restlessness in some birds, as well as the more common symptoms such as breathing difficulties, open mouthed breathing and so on. ---Diabetes may be behind foot and leg problems in birds, especially budgies/parakeets. Even more so if they’ve been eating a high fat (mostly seed) diet. ---As with humans, diabetes in a bird can cause gangrene in toes, feet or even leg. ---Thyroid disease (Goiter) is another problem sometimes found in birds, often more common in budgies. ---A surprise to many owners is that a crop problem can be behind the symptoms too. Anything that contributes to an electrolyte imbalance/nutritional --- As with all things that might go wrong with our feathered friends, early intervention gives us a better chance at keeping them around a bit longer. --- Blood chemistries and X-rays should be expected (and encouraged). ************************************************* When you notice hard, corn-type nodules on your bird’s feet and their discomfort, foot shifting, loss of balance; perhaps even bleeding from these growths, you are likely dealing with a condition called ‘Bumble Foot’. --- Other possibilities of growths on the feet could be the result of a tumor (more common in budgies/parakeets), or something far simpler like blood blister, fluid filled cysts or even feather cysts depending on where the growth originates. --- When dealing with Bumblefoot it can be a very serious, progressive condition, so don’t delay treatment. This might include surgical removal of the growths and treatment with an antibiotic, topical and/or oral administration (Bumblefoot often has a bacterial secondary). --- 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. 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. 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). *********************************************Leg fractures happen sometimes with the most minor of events, like a hard fall from a perch, cage top or crash into a wall or window. Sometimes it’s the result of another animal, human or any number of accidents that can happen. --- What’s most important is to have your bird evaluated to decide where the break or fracture is and how bad. --- The ‘shin bone’ (tibiotarsal) is the most often fracture seen. Generally speaking, a special tape can be employed to splint the leg for approximately a month to set and heal certain types of these fractures successfully. --- When the fracture is of the femur (thigh bone), surgery is necessary. --- Quite honestly though, I doubt there's a break or fracture; I'd lean more toward the Bumble foot or other systemic disease. In any case and in all cases, I'm afraid this is something that you can't fix at home, mainly because you don't have the equipment or medical background in avian health to know how to sample the area, xray it and/or run labs to determine the origins. Bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitical, thyroid, liver all possibilities. Once you have it pinpointed you have a good chance of treatment and recovery. This is a good teaching opportunity (if your daughter is younger) about how to do the right thing for a life, no matter how different, no matter how small. And it sounds like you're already doing that.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I will share this information with my daughter and we will try to find an avian specialist in our area. Do you have any idea of the costs for an avian specialist? Office visit, treatment etc.?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What else can you tell us about Bumblefoot?
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 1 year ago.
Where I am in N. California it's less than $50 for an office visit and that should cover a diagnosis based on experience. If it's bumblefoot it's pretty obvious. If it looks like it could be something else, something similar, a scraping might be done and some labs - so gosh, I'm taking a guess here, maybe $100 depending on the vet.
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And remember, an avian specialist, while desired, isn't always necessary. A vet that is well experienced with birds, seeing at least 1/3 of their practice of avians, they are likely qualified.
Asking ALL the pet stores where you see birds for sale, who they use for bird care should net you a good list of vets
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When it comes to the condition you're describing, "IF" it's actually bumblefoot it sounds rather advanced, so home care isn't feasible. This said, please replace the perches with the rope perches you'll find in most pet stores. Be sure to opt for those that the bird's foot will wrap up to half way around at most. A size slightly bigger than that where the foot is only about 1/4 way around or nearly flat is good for a second one. It will help with comfort and hopefully reduce any pain while help is sought
Also, feeding more fresh foods like dark greens (kale, broccoli, carrot tops, chard), try human baby food of sweet potatoes, peas, green beans and other pure, all natural vegetable types, can help. In fact, birds eating a predominantly pelleted food with plenty of fresh vegetable offerings daily seem to be far less likely to develop the disease at all.
--- For right now though, let's get her better and make her comfortable.
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 1 year ago.
Hi Diane Smith,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Pippi. How is everything going?

S. August Abbott, CAS

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