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August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 7532
Experience:  Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author
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I have a cockatiel about 9 years old, all of a sudden noticed

Customer Question

I have a cockatiel about 9 years old, all of a sudden noticed that the toes on her right foot are curling in... But she can grip.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. What is the bird's name?
Customer: Punky
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Punky?
Customer: No
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Veterinarian about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 5 months ago.
You've done a great job in noticing things like this before it goes on too far. What you're seeing is something rather common in a bird with a condition called hypovitaminosis A, basically a lack of vitamin A in the system. This happens quite a lot in birds on a predominantly seed diet. Yes, even seeds proclaiming to be 'fortified' (the pet industry has virtually no 'truth in advertising' laws). Additives to water are also pretty useless for anything other than making manufacturers rich. What you can do right now is push a natural beta carotene supplement in the way of foods that 'tiels who aren't used to fresh foods may not like: Carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, pretty much any dark orange colored vegetables and fruits like cantaloupe, even watermelon I've found that birds not used to fresh foods tend to readily accept human baby food. Choose the natural, organic types and be sure nothing is in it except for the vegetable or fruit and 'water for processing'. To get your bird to try it, put a bit onto a teaspoon and see if she'll sample it. If not, touch it to her beak and once she gets a taste she should decide it's worth a try. By pushing food like this daily you should see an improvement in her foot and in overall behavior and health Even if you've had her on a quality pelleted diet and some fresh foods, it's possible her vitamin A levels are still low for various reasons. Now, even though I've given you this information it's absolutely vital that you have a check up scheduled for her. We like to recommend that all pet birds see their vet at least once a year for a 'well bird visit'. When you do this, at approx. $40-50 per visit which amounts to about $4.00/month or .13 cents a day. Well worth it when you consider the life of your dear companion. And that regular check ups mean you don't have the huge vet bill that occurs when you see a vet for the first time during an urgent care situation (which is where the myth of bird vets charging hundreds of dollars comes from) I should also stress that while I suspect hypovitaminosis A, these symptoms could also be from internal tumors pressing on a nerve or inflammations, infections and multiple other conditions that can only be determined with a hands on physical examination by a vet who knows birds. Still, modification of feeding routine as suggested above are always good and worthwhile Let me know how you make out - I'll be happy to work with you
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 5 months ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
S. August Abbott, CAS
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 5 months ago.
How are things going with your companion? If you wouldn't mind, please give a positive rating so we can bring this to a close; however, you can always follow up, as often as you wish - you are in control of the question

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