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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 24391
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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She is about 10 years old (possibly older--we adopted her).

Customer Question

She is about 10 years old (possibly older--we adopted her). Has had many seizures over the course of the years. Now she trembles all the time, seems weak, does eat a little. Is she dying?
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Seizures always look scary. Let's get you talking to the Veterinarian. Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about the bird?
Customer: No
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 4 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. You're justified to be very concerned about her. Which type of bird are we discussing, please?

It's important to note that once a bird 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. Her symptoms of tremors, weakness, and inappetence are important and life-threatening symptoms but they're not pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of any one particular disorder.

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

Until she can be attended to, please heat up her environment to 85F by means of a 100W bulb shined into her partially covered cage (not at night when she needs to rest) or by taping a heating pad set on its lowest setting to the sides of her cage. Because she appears weakened, please remove her perches and put her food and water on the bottom of the cage along with her. Add a water soluble avian vitamin such as Oasis brand to her water at half of the recommended dose so as not to make her water distasteful. Add a calcium supplement such as Calcivet or Calciboost to her water. These supplements are available in pet/feed stores. Avoid over the counter antibiotics designed to be placed in her 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 her diet consisted of, please? Seeds should compose less than 20% of her 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.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
She is a love bird. We adopted her and have never been able to introduce other foods since she was probably already three or so when we got her. My main goal here is to make her comfortable. Suggestions on that? I do not want her to suffer.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 4 months ago.

Thank you. I understand. Warmth, darkness, and not handling her are how we afford these birds comfort. Her food and water should be readily available to her as I posted above. Please continue our conversation if you wish.

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