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Dr. Pat
Dr. Pat, Bird Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 3596
Experience:  25+ years working primarily or exclusively with birds
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My African gray (15 yrs) sits on the bottom of her cage on

Customer Question

My African gray (15 yrs) sits on the bottom of her cage on a toy, tucking it beneath her. You is a prescription bottle with beans inside that rattle. She puffs her feathers. She also has a swollen foot, which we think may have been due to catching her claw in her booda perch. She is eating and drinking well, grooming, comes for petting. Eyes clear, stool normal. We have just returned from a 2-week vacation. She hardly talks to us, but we've seen this "pout" before. But now I'm worried it might have something to do with her sitting the toy (which will be removed as soon as I finish this note). Marcia
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 2 years ago.
Greetings, I am Dr. Pat. I have worked with birds for many years. I will do my best to help you.

You are correct to be concerned. Any change in behavior warrants a check up, but even more so if there is reproductive, behavior, an injury, and you have been gone for two weeks. Call and make an appointment today, to get her in for exam and lab work as soon a possible.

Timnehs are usually quite stoic so I cannot emphasize more how important a hands-on exam is.

How was she being cared for while you were gone?

Has she done any brooding behavior like this before?

Any other medical history?

If you feel comfortable with it, examine the bird thoroughly, using gentle restraint via washcloth or hand towel: do not restrict the chest or hold around the body. Check the eyes, nostrils, mouth and beak if possible, having a good look in there for mucus, redness, masses or anything else unusual. Palpate the tummy for pain, fluid, lumps or anything else (eggs, if female or unknown). Check all the joints for swelling, pain, and mobility. The feathers should be parted to view the skin, muscles and skeleton below; this can be done using a q-tip with isopropyl alcohol or KY gel. Look for bruising, lacerations, injured feathers.

Double check that foot for any fibers, hairs, strings that could be wrapped around and embedded.

Pet/feed store medications and home remedies are harmful, ineffective, immuno-suppressive, and make them much worse and may interfere with the veterinarian's diagnosis and treatment. Do not use them. Homeopathy and natureopathic techniques do not work in avians and can actually be very dangerous.

I know it is expensive, but you may not have many home options, because the first thing you need a vet for is to find out what is going on. Treatment is only as good as the diagnosis. If you call around, you may find a vet to work within your means.

I really must stress that you need a bird-experienced person, and not just a vet who advertises that they care for birds.

You need to take your bird to see an avian-experienced veterinarian ASAP for complete examination, diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Check click on "find a vet"

I would especially be worried about reproductive activity and low calcium levels. The foot (and her whole body) should have radiographs for fracture. Ultrasound is often more informative than radiographs and does not require anesthesia (ask your vet about this option) if there is potential reproductive tract disease.

If this were my patient, and money no object, I would start with complete fecal analysis and direct smear, stained with Sedi-stain and unstained for multiple parasites, fungi, spirals; direct smear stained with Sedi-stain and unstained of the oral cavity; bacterial culture and sensitivity of the feces and choana. Depending on the case I might do a fungal culture. Routine blood work is necessary to rule out other issues, such as calcium levels.

Taking away the toy might actually make her worse, so let it be for the time being.

Make sure she gets 14 hours dark, quiet uninterrupted sleep at night.

Double check she is on an excellent diet--no seeds, no high fat people foods, no nuts except for very small treats.

Even with diet, calcium correction, photoperiod control, if this is simple reproductive activity, it can take 6-8 weeks to resolve. If there is a serious imbalance or calcium problem, it may take months.

Very likely she is going to need (minimum) pain control for the foot, calcium injections, and the husbandry changes mentioned above.