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Dr. Dan
Dr. Dan, Bird Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
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Experience:  12 years of pet, wildlife, and zoo avian experience, PLEASE rate my service when satisfied.
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I have a budgie(parakeet) that has had seizures on a regular

Resolved Question:

I have a budgie(parakeet) that has had seizures on a regular basis for about 3 months. Upon taking him to the local vet, he suspects it is epilepsy and has prescribed phenobarbital elixir to be given once a day. After the vet visit, I realized that the bird had been chewing on a metal chain of a toy in his cage like a soother, a comfort thing. for sometime before these seizures. It's thinking maybe some sort of poisoning.

The bird is acting disoriented, often walking in circles after he jumps off the perch in the cage and twists his head (that could be because of the pheno?) but he is eating millet and seed , and drinking, is preening, exhibiting strength when we try to give him his meds, & active in the cage often. the poop is sometimes running, sometimes almost normal. if we take him off the pheno, eventually he has seizures again.

the latest concern is what seems to be a very small amount of dark discharge over the cere. this has happened within the last few days. Help.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Dan replied 7 years ago.



Thanks for using, I'm Dr. Dan and I'll try to help you.


Was any blood work or other testing done before the phenobarbital was started?


Dr. Dan

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
no blood work was done. it's not practical to get blood work done on a budgie was the impression I was given.

the local vet really gave me the feeling he was blowing me off which is why I thought I'd try here...
Expert:  Dr. Dan replied 7 years ago.

Thanks again for the information.


I think it was not a terrible decision to try the bird on phenobarbital as epilepsy is very possible in any bird.


One place where your vet is mistaken is that blood can't be taken from a budgie, if the correct lab is used and the correct technique is used plenty of tests can be run on a budgie very safely and effectively. We draw blood on canaries and finches (not to mention budgies) frequently.


Right now I think the chain needs to be removed and you need to find a vet who can draw blood (and you are more confident in) and feels comfortable treating birds. This bird needs to be tested for zinc and possibly lead. Many toys especially cheap ones made in other countries have zinc in the metal or lead solder which which are very toxic and will cause the exact signs you are describing and phenobarbital will not help.


If your bird tests positive for zinc or lead (I'm quite suspicious it will) then a drug called calcium EDTA can be used to bind the zinc/lead and return your bird to health. I think the dark stuff you are describing is a side effect of zinc toxicity as zinc can cause certain tissues to bleed. I hope this helps, best wishes.


Dr. Dan

Dr. Dan and other Bird Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Thanks Dr Dan.....


I'll call the vet next week.


He's the only avian vet in the area, so my options are limited, but once I discuss the possibility of poisoning, which both my wife and me never really even considered until a recent visit to a hardware store in the chain section and the lightbulb went off, i'm thinking he'll probably go for a blood test. in retrospect, i'm thinking it's more my wife who's afraid he'll die from a blood test then the vet, but worth talking to him about it.


We lost a english budgie last april who had discharge on her cere shortly before she died, so I'm a little panicky with my male, tweedle dum. he's still kicking, which supports the poisoning theory....not enough to kill him, but enough to make him ill...he's really scared both of us on more then one occasion with the seizures. most birds don't necessarily survive seizures based on what i've read online, and that was certainly the case with my english budgie.


we watch him on a webcam from work to make sure he's ok. he's fairly active of late: is the link if your curious.


Thanks again......worth the money to help put my mind more at ease.







Expert:  Dr. Dan replied 7 years ago.

You are quite welcome, best of luck to you all.


If your vet is open to it, this is the lab we use and they except extremely tiny samples of blood.


Dr. Dan