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Dr. G.
Dr. G., Bird Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 1248
Experience:  Bird and exotic animal veterinarian for over 16 years.
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Recently my African Grey parrot started having seizures. I

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Recently my African Grey parrot started having seizures. I took her to the avian vet and it was discover that her zinc levels were on the high side of normal. I replaced all the hardware in her cage to stainless steal. She was treated with 2 rounds of calcium EDTA and retested. Her zinc levels were down to normal. That was 3 weeks ago I'm scheduled to have her retested in 2 months. She has started having seizures again. What can I do??

In order to best help you, I need to ask a few questions.

Do you know what her zinc levels were?

What is her diet, in detail?

Does she ever get exposure to direct sunlight?

How many seizures has she had?

Is she acting/eating okay otherwise?

Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX forward to helping you.

Dr. G
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I don't remember the actual levels, but I can call the vet tomorrow and get the numbers.
Her Diet, Harrison high potency course pellets, nutriberries 2-3 a day, during the day. In the evening she gets, fresh fruits and veggies.
Broccoli, cauliflower, wheat pasta, honeydew mellon, sweet potatoe, carrots.
Sunlight: Her cage is positioned next to a sliding glass door that gets southeastern exposure and I have an avXXXXX XXXXXght setup to give her supplement light for 3 hours a day. I live in the San Francisco area.
She had a seizure Monday 1/12/09 that lasted for about 2 minutes. Then another 1/13/09 that lasted for about a minute. Then she had one today 1/18/09 that lasted for 4 minutes. The vet had advised that if she had a seizure I could give her valium orally 0.08cc. I gave her valium each time.
Her eating hasn't chanced, she has a good appetite and she seems like herself.

Thank you for any suggestions you might have.

Yes, if you can get the actual values, that would be great. Also ask them what the labs 'normal' range is as some labs have different standards. I'm assuming they ran a lead level also, I would ask about that also.

Certainly zinc toxicosis is a possibility for seizures but I would have expected the values to be fairly high. Usually we see birds being 'poor doers', gi issues, feather issues in normal zinc toxicosis cases. Zinc levels in birds are a bit controversial and the levels can vary throughout the day.

Although her diet is good - Harrisions primarily, I would still want to make sure that her calcium level was checked. Greys seem to have more issues with low calcium than other birds and seizures are often a sign. The standard calcium on a regular blood panel, which they most likely ran, can be normal even when the calcium in the body is low. If she is still seizing, I would ask for an ionized calcium to be run.
There are many factors involved in calcium metabolism, of which, exposure to sun is important. Being by the glass window will not help unless the window is open and there is direct sunlight exposure (no glass interference). The bird 'sunlights' are so-so, in my opinion, as they need to under them for hours to make a difference. The intensity of the UV light also diminishes pretty quickly and those bulbs need to be changed frequently (even if they still look like they are on).

If the zinc and calcium check out, I would ask your vet to make take some x-rays and look at her heart. We can see heart disease in birds and this may affect the oxygen flow to the brain causing seizures.

We can also see 'epilepsy' which is when we don't find a cause. Some animals need anti-seizure medications to control them (phenobarbitol, potassium bromide, gabapentin).

Tonight, hopefully she won't have another one, but you may want to lower her perches in case she would fall and make sure there is something soft on the bottom of the cage.

If you have any more questions, let me know, otherwise I'll check back tomorrow after you speak with your vet.

Dr. G
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
She had 3 test,
10/27/08 2.4
11/13/08 2.3
12/29/08 1.9
The vet also did an X ray, and everything looked Ok on that.
After the October and November test, each was followed by treatment with Calcium EDTA.
Thank you for the suggesting to move the perches. She had 2 more seizures last night.

Thanks for the added info.

Those values are just a bit high, so in my opinion, it is difficult to say for sure that she was suffering from zinc toxicosis. Especially now since she has had more seizures since two treatments. The only thing would be if she is continuing to be exposed to it somehow. Did they run a lead level also?

I'm sure that you have thoroughly checked her cage and environment and you had said you changed her hardware. Is there any evidence of her chewing on anything else?

Since the seizures are becoming more frequent, I would ask you vet about anti-seizure medicines (again after making sure ionized calcium and lead levels have been checked).

I hope she does well, I know is must be frustrating and scary at the same time.   Let me know if I can do anything else.

Dr. G

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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank You sooooo much. Yes this ordeal has been really scary for her and me. But you responding so quickly and thoroughly has really made me feel better. If you're ever in San Francisco Area, Let me know I'll buy you dinner.
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Thank you! I hope she does well!

I wish I could take you up on your offer but I'm in Peru right now and won't near SF for awhile :)

Is your vet an ABVP board-certified avian vet? If not, there are several in the SF area. You can search for a listing (find a diplomate) if you are interested.

You can always reopen the discussion if need be.

Take care,