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Patricia, Parrot Consultant
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 1759
Experience:  Published author, free lance bird behaviorist, adviser to the parrots at Sarasota Jungle Gardens.
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My parakeet is old and suddenly he cant walk or ...

Resolved Question:

My parakeet is old and suddenly he can't walk or stand. He can fly but when he tries to perch is legs won't hold him up?
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Patricia replied 10 years ago.
Hi Ben. Can you tell if this seems to be paralysis? Can you gently check out his toes and see if they still have flexibility or have they stiffened up? If you are supporting him, does he seem to be able to grasp your finger with his toes? Is there any swelling visible, any bumps, lumps, misshapened toes? Any change in the normal color of his feet and legs? Please tell me about his usual diet. Has he always been able to fly around the house, more or less going where he wants to? Have you seen any change in the appearance of his droppings? How quickly did this come on? Did he seem to be having some trouble walking and standing that gradually got worse or was it more like an overnight thing? Is his cage the original one he has always had? Is it metal? Does he have a bell or any toys with metal parts? What type of perches does he have? This extra information and anything else you might think of will help me give you my best advice. Thanks, Patricia
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
He seems to b e paralized. When I pick him up he will not grasp my finger .... almost lifeless.

This came on overnight. He has been able to fly in the evening. Usually gets out about hour. He is in metal cage. Large cage with mirror Not change in dropping that I notice. He cannot stand or walk now but very limited flying. When I let him out today he flew few feet to couch and stayed there. He has had bell. There are several perches in large cage. No lumps or bumps that I can see. He is very sick ... Small area trouble finding vet to treat birds.. all treat cats dogs etc.

Currently he cannot stand or walk. Diet has always consisted of gravel, parakeet seed from Walmart, water. etc. He has usually been able to fly around house in evening when we are home at will. He usually comes out for hour or so and flies and them goes back home for the night.

He has had the cage for six or seven years.

Expert:  Patricia replied 10 years ago.

Okay Ben. Thanks for the extra information. Actually, you have several Avian vets within your reach. You have one just a little NE of you,as follows:

Southwest Florida Veterinary Services is located at 12288 CR 769 (Kings Highway) in Lake Suzy, Florida, near the Desoto/Charlotte County line.

And here is a link that will show other Florida Avian vets, a few of which are fairly close to you including Nokomis and Englewood, just up the road. Click here: Exotic Bird Society of America Florida Avian Veterinarians

I'm afraid you bird is going to need one. Based on your description of symptoms and the other information, there are two suspects that come to the top of my list. The most critical of them is a possible exposure to something toxic in the home where he flies, and/or either lead or zinc poisoning from an unsafe metal either in his cage or toys or both. It's only been relatively recent that it was discovered just how very at risk our birds are if they have access to metals containing lead or zinc. Most older cages and toys had both. Another problem he may have is diet related. It sounds as if he has been on a mostly seed diet all his life. That has left him at risk of fatty liver disease, fatty tumors, (which could be pressing on nerves and blood supply to his legs) and obesity. A birds diet should not be more than about 25% seeds and seed products. They need fruits, veggies, green leafy items and much more. He might also be suffering from Avian Gout. Obviously I can neither diagnose nor prescribe for you in this format. All I can do for you is give you my best guess as to the possible problems, based on the information provided. I strongly urge you to get in touch with one of these vets and get him in asap. First thing tomorrow would be great. In the meantime, don't let him get chilled. Keep him as quiet and stress free as possible. You need to either remove the cage grate and line the floor, or line the grate with several layers of newspaper. Don't allow him to get a foot or leg down through the bars and maybe end up with a broken toe or leg. Put sturdy small dishes he can't tip over on the floor so he can get to them for food and water. If you put several layers, it will be soft for him and all you have to do is peel off the top layer as he soils it. You can cover the top and three sides of his cage to help him stay warm. The closer we can keep an ill or injured bird to 80F, the better. I'm so sorry there is no home remedy or cure I can give you for this situation but I hope this information will be helpful and that you can get him in tomorrow. If you need anything else or have more questions, just let me know. Patricia

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Expert:  Patricia replied 10 years ago.
Thanks so much for accepting my answer. There was one thing I left out that I meant to include but got so carried away worrying about possible metal poisoning, it totally slipped my mind. I'm putting this in the form of an information request because I don't want you to be asked to pay for information I left out accidentally. You mentioned that he also has grit available. You need to get rid of that right away. He does not need it and if he is ingesting it, it will cause impaction. It's not totally out of the realm of possibility that he could have an impaction that is pressing on nerves and/or blood supply to the legs, especially if he has had grit available to him all his life. It is a cumulative thing that builds up over time. When you see the vet, be sure to let him/her know that he has had grit available to him. The only birds who need grit or gravel are those who do not hull their seeds before eating them, like Canarys, etc. Parakeets are hookbills and they hull their seeds first. No need to reply to this, I just wanted to make sure you had all the information I meant to give you the first time around. Patricia