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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 27974
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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She is sitting on the bottom of the cage making distress

Customer Question

She is sitting on the bottom of the cage making distress calls. She keeps levying her right foot and almost rocking back and forth.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. What is the bird's name and age?
Customer: She is a 20 year old cockatiel.
JA: What is the bird's name?
Customer: Her name is Barrlett.
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Barrlett?
Customer: Bartlett There were ants in her food last night.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 9 months ago.

You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm currently typing up my reply.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 9 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. Please let me know if you still need help. May I have an update on Barlett please? Barrlett is considerably past life expectancy for a cockatiel and so I would expect that more than one thing is going on with her at her advanced age. Finding our pet birds on the bottom of the cage is never a good sign as it usually indicated profound weakness and these birds, then, feel more secure when not perching. Her vocalizing, lifting her foot, and rocking are important symptoms but aren't pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of any one particular disorder.

It's important to note that once a cockatiel 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.

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 Barrlett's choana - the slit between her oral cavity and nose - and cloaca (vent) may be taken. Whole body X-rays can be 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. 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 Barrlett's 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 9 months ago.
Too late. She has passed.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I took her to her vet. She said she had a stroke. There was nothing he could do for her. He put her to sleep.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 9 months ago.

I understand. My condolences for your loss of Barrlett. I appreciate your taking the time to let me know. You may receive an inappropriate follow-up from the site ostensibly sent by me. It wasn't and I apologize in advance should you receive it.

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