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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 bird appears to be paralyzed from the neck down. She

Customer Question

My bird appears to be paralyzed from the neck down. She can't perch and her legs and wings won't move. She was hanging onto the wall of her cage by her beak when I got home.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 1 year ago.

​Greetings, I am Dr. Pat. I have worked with birds exclusively for many years.​

What happened?

Anything obviously different about the cage or toys?

Can she open gates or doors or get stuck anywhere?
Can you tell me more about the bird?​

How long has this been going on?

How long have you had her?

Any accidents or trauma?

Interactions with other birds/pets/children/guests?

What is the usual diet? has it changed recently?

Has she gotten into anything?

Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 1 year ago.

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.

Your job is to keep the bird warm, safe, quiet, and confined; and to provide adequate hydration and calories.

Move the bird to a box or carrier with soft towels in the bottom, no perch, and food and water in low bowls that can be reached easily. Put the whole thing on a heating pad on low or medium. Check it frequently, no overheating allowed! Keep the unit partially covered, warm and quiet. White paper towels or white cloth towels will show the true color of the droppings. Small animal/reptile boxes are great for this purpose.
The bird, bowls and unit must be kept very clean.

Here are some helpful links:

Do not try to force food or water. Pedialyte or electrolyte replacer can help but many birds do not like them; when in doubt, plain warm water is best. They can hydrate from oral fluids almost as quickly as IV if the GI is functioning properly. You can offer warm cooked rice, pancakes, cornbread, grapes, melon, greens in addition to normal food.

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"

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What happened? Nothing that I'm aware of. She was fine when I left this morning.Anything obviously different about the cage or toys? Nothing different.Can she open gates or doors or get stuck anywhere? She normally can, but didn't today. She was hanging by her beak when I got home.
Can you tell me more about the bird?​ She's around 7, usually playful, likes to be held.How long has this been going on? Just noticed it tonight when I got home, so not longer than 7 hours.How long have you had her? Her whole life, around 7 years.Any accidents or trauma? Not that I am aware of.Interactions with other birds/pets/children/guests? None.What is the usual diet? has it changed recently? Fruit, vegetables, seed. Nothing different in her diet.Has she gotten into anything? No.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm not sure how she can just be paralyzed all of a sudden?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 1 year ago.

Several things come to mind.

If she can open the gates or doors, a guillotine-effect can damage the neck if it slams down on them . This is a common injury.

Was there any disturbance or construction or neighbor issues that you can think of?

If you gently pinch the toes, can she feel it?

Is the vent normal?