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Upsetting -- I live in NZ --- My bird escaped about 2 months…

Customer Question
Upsetting -- I live...

Upsetting -- I live in NZ --- My bird escaped about 2 months ago from his leash while we were outside. By sheer luck he was found and returned to me a week later.

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. What is wrong with your bird?

Since that time he has been pulling his feathers out -- I took him to a vet who cannot find anything wrong. We have a cone on hime but as soon as we take it off he starts pulling them out adain

Veterinarian's Assistant: Where does your bird seem to hurt?

Mostly on his back and side -- doesn't seem to pull them out from his chest

Veterinarian's Assistant: OK. No obvious pain. Can you see anything that looks wrong or different?

I do know that he had a huge bruise on his chest. The vet said that was from the leash he was wearing when he escaped -- he still had the leash on when he was found a week later. They are saying Post traumatic stress ... but he is very well loved and played with all the time.

Veterinarian's Assistant: Strange behavior is often perplexing. I'm sure the Veterinarian can help you. What is the bird's name?

BIKO We took him to a the zoo as NZ does not have a lot of vets who cater to birds believe it or not.

Veterinarian's Assistant: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about your bird?

He has taken blood work === to check for Bird HIV ... nothing there

Submitted: 7 months ago.Category: Bird Veterinary
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Answered in 19 minutes by:
1/10/2018
Bird Veterinarian: Scott Perry, Bird Veterinarian replied 7 months ago
Scott Perry
Scott Perry, Bird Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 3,565
Experience: DVM
Verified

Hello. My name is***** and I am a veterinarian that can answer your question. I understand Biko is picking the feathers from his back and side. Can you please tell me what breed of bird is Biko?

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
He is a Galah. 2 years old
Bird Veterinarian: Scott Perry, Bird Veterinarian replied 7 months ago

There are many differentials for feather picking. any disease causing pain, discomfort, irritation and/or pruritus may lead to self-injurious behavior. This may both include primary feather and skin diseases as well as systemic diseases. In case of systemic disease, feather damage may either be diffuse and generalized or localized directly over the region of discomfort. Thus, location and extent of the damage may sometimes help to narrow down differential diagnoses. Therefore, if the leash was rubbing on this area then that could have caused it by damaging the feathers.

Other environmental risk factors that have been implicated in FDB include nutritional deficiencies and dietary imbalances; airborne and topical toxins; and low humidity levels. The humidity should normally be 85-90%. Several theories exist concerning the motivational and causes of behavioral feather picking. It is commonly believed that feather picking develops in an attempt of the bird to cope with negative emotional states, in which the self-injurious behavior serves as a tension-release mechanism to alleviate e.g., (chronic) stress, boredom or frustration.

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Bird Veterinarian: Scott Perry, Bird Veterinarian replied 7 months ago

The veterinarian needs to make sure the feathers are not damaged, mites have been ruled out, there are no nutritional deficiencies, environment is adequate (i.e. humidity), metabolic or organ disease is ruled out, heavy metal toxicity, reproductive disease, bone inflammation, and contact sensitivity are ruled out, and various viral causes have been considered (i.e. polyomavirus).

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
he's been tested for PFBD and disease as well as xrays
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
as well as lead, etc
Bird Veterinarian: Scott Perry, Bird Veterinarian replied 7 months ago

That is one virus worth considering. Polyoma is the other virus.

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Bird Veterinarian: Scott Perry, Bird Veterinarian replied 7 months ago

Good. Behavioral modification can be considered once the medical issues have been ruled out. This is a process of "de-arousal" of anxiety. De-arousal may subsequently result from redirection of the motivation towards the feathers or skin (i.e. redirected). There needs to be adequate foraging opportunities as the lack of foraging opportunities has been most clearly linked to feather picking. Aside from the lack of appropriate stimuli, the presence of aversive stimuli (e.g., overcrowding, sleep deprivation) or sudden changes in the environment (lack of predictability and/or routine) may also result in anxiety and stress and subsequent self-injurious behaviors - this is the one the veterinarian supposed. Particularly changes in the family structure or social bonds (i.e., additions or deletions of family members, parrots or other pets to the household) are considered to be of importance. Aside from changes in social structure, changes in physical environment, housing, daily routine, and/or climate could also play a role.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
ok yeah I feel like its behavioural. Would getting another bird help?
Bird Veterinarian: Scott Perry, Bird Veterinarian replied 7 months ago

It can help, but it will not likely resolve the anxiety. In summary, make sure all the other areas I discussed have been addressed first. If that is done and the underlying cause has not been found and it is still continuing, then work on redirecting the behavior by interrupting it with learned behaviors such as stepping up from one finger to the next (i.e. laddering). Reward with a treat when accomplished. Perform other tasks, which usually involve him stepping on and off your finger - possibly onto a different perch. Rewarding is the key. Try to anticipate when the feather picking is going to occur and perform these tasks beforehand. This is the process of retraining - it is a redirecting therapy.

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Bird Veterinarian: Scott Perry, Bird Veterinarian replied 7 months ago

I sincerely ***** ***** I have helped you, and that I have earned my 5 star rating today! Please remember to rate my service by selecting the 5 stars at the top of the screen (rating me now does not close your question). We can continue here until you are satisfied, simply use the reply box and let me know. Thank you!

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Bird Veterinarian: Scott Perry, Bird Veterinarian replied 7 months ago

Just checking in. How is your bird doing?

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Bird Veterinarian: Scott Perry, Bird Veterinarian replied 7 months ago
Hi,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
***** *****
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Bird Veterinarian: Scott Perry, Bird Veterinarian replied 7 months ago

Hello. It is Dr. Perry again. Would you mind giving a review of the service I provided? It is the only way an Expert is given credit for helping a customer, so your review is very important.

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