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I have a 21 year old cockatiel who has started sitting on…

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I have a 21...

I have a 21 year old cockatiel who has started sitting on the bottom of the cage ripping up the paper, then just sitting on the bottom. He is still eating and can sit on his perch. He is puffed up more than usual. I am wondering if it is his process of dying...

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'm sorry to hear that. Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about the bird?

He has been happy and healthy all of his life - this started a couple weeks ago.

Submitted: 7 months ago.Category: Bird Veterinary
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Answered in 4 hours by:
12/4/2017
Bird Veterinarian: Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian replied 7 months ago
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 34,823
Experience: University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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Bird Veterinarian: Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian replied 7 months ago

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner, Susan. It's important to note that 21 year old cockatiel is quite elderly and so to answer you directly every day is a gift at this point and he may, indeed, be suffering from an age-related major organ failure or malignancy. Bottom sitting and fluffing (an attempt to conserve heat) are important symptoms but they aren't pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of any one particular disorder. It's important to note that once a cockatileacts 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 his choana - the slit between his oral cavity and nose - and cloaca (vent) may be taken. Whole body X-rays can be quite helpful as well.
Until he can be attended to, please heat up his environment to 85F by means of a 100W bulb shined into his partially covered cage (not at night when he needs to rest) or by taping a heating pad set on its lowest setting to the sides of his cage. If he appears weakened remove his perches and put his food and water on the bottom of the cage along with him. Add a water soluble avian vitamin such as Oasis brand to his water at half of the recommended dose so as not to make his water distasteful. Add a calcium supplement such as Calcivet or Calciboost to his water. These supplements are available in pet/feed stores. Avoid over the counter antibiotics designed to be placed in his 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 his diet consisted of, please? Seeds should compose less than 20% of his 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.

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