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I have a (roughly) 17-yr-old African Grey. Over the last few…

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I have a (roughly)...

I have a (roughly) 17-yr-old African Grey. Over the last few days he's been off colour. He persistently shakes his head - not continuously, but when he does it happens several times in a row. He then stretches his beak wide, scratches the side of his face and then returns to the head shaking. He's been a little quiet, although having said that he has been playing with his toys and chatting away. Looking at him, there's no obvious signs of anything wrong. Maybe his feathers are a little ruffled, but only when he's sitting. When he's moving around he appears fine. He has a UV lamp for 12 hours every day, but doesn't tend to sit under it. He prefers a darker corner of his (very large double) cage. This could be because he's tired as he doesn't always have a regular bedtime, and doesn't get as much sleep as he should. My fault, and I'm correcting that immediately. His diet isn't brilliant - when we acquired him he was eating a very poor seed based diet, and despite trying for several years, he shows little interest in fruit and vegetable (fresh or dried), and would eat only peanuts and sunflower seeds if he was allowed to. I've been trying to convert him to Harrison's which he is eating, but nowhere near as much as is recommended. He does seem to be off his food a little at the moment, and his poop is a little watery - possibly from the change of diet? The air quality in the room he lives in has been very poor, and I'm thinking that it may have caused a problem with his respiratory system. I know it has caused problems for me. I now have a HEPA Heaven Fresh air purifier running on high 24/7 and it has made a huge difference to the environment. My bird is currently receiving Guardian Angel in his water in the hope that it will help him. Would he also benefit from a calcium supplement? He has a lot of dander coming off him, and admittedly he doesn't get bathed. I would like to start giving him regular mists with a spray, but should I wait until there's an improvement in his general condition? I know that this dander could be a cause or contribution to the problem, but bathing him might not be beneficial if he's unwell? To give a bit of background on him, he was given to my mum after his previous owners no longer wanted him. He wasn't treated very well by them and as a consequence he will not accept being handled or touched by anyone. This is something I intend to work on. I inherited Jake from my mum when she passed away and I admit I was not prepared for looking after a parrot, but I'm learning fast. Any advice or insight you could give me on his current health situation would be much appreciated.

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The Expert will know how to help your bird. What is the bird's name?

His name is*****: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Jake?

No, I've included everything that I could think of.

Submitted: 4 months ago.Category: Bird Veterinary
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Answered in 19 hours by:
12/27/2017
Bird Veterinarian: Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian replied 4 months ago
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 33,340
Experience: University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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Bird Veterinarian: Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian replied 4 months ago

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. I'll answer your concerns as you posted them...

1) "Off colour" is subjective but can be an important observation by the attentive caretaker.

2) Shaking of the head may be behavioral or indicate head discomfort - headache?, pruritis (itchiness)?

3) Widely opening the mouth - behavioral? an oral or crop lesion (inflammation of infection, tumor, hypovitaminosis A)?

4) Yes, a mimimum of 12 hours of sleep is important. Simply covering the cage doesn't suffice. The room should be darkened and quiet as well.

5) His diet is nicely improved by his eating the Harrison's. It's unlikely that he would be lacking calcium or any nutrient when eating a balanced pellet. You can still supplement with calcium and vitamins (e.g., Calciboost, Calcivet, Oasis brand vitamins where bird supplies are sold) but they need not be given more than weekly in a bird eating well otherwise.

6) "Watery" poop may be due to polyuria (increased urine) or diarrhea. This neeeds to be clarified by an avian vet.

7) Respiratory disorders usualy manifest as sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, tail bobbing, and/or increased respiratory rate.

8) Because Jake's signs are nonspecific, I recommend his having a thorough physical exam performed by an avian vet (the parrotsocietyuk.org/veterinaryadvice/avian-vets). I would hold off on bathing/misting him as the stress of doing so may be contraindicated at this time.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

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Experience: University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience

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