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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 29802
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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Conrad is 27 years old. He has been sitting in the corner or

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Conrad is 27 years old. He has been sitting in the corner or his cage for a week. I moved his food and water so it is accessible. He is eating a little and drinking a little. He chirps when I wake him. He knows I am there and tries to communicate. He is also breathing heavily. Do you think he is just dying of old age?
JA: I'm sorry that Conrad is feeling poorly. Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Conrad?
Customer: He's a cockatiel. We've had him since he was about a month old. He's never been ill.

You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm currently typing up my reply. Please be patient. This may take a few minutes.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Ok. Thanks.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
No. A text is fine.

I'm sorry to hear of this with Conrad. The med***** *****fe expectancy for a cockatiel is 10-15 years. At 27 years of age there's likely to be quite a few age-related disorders present - degenerative and neoplastic (cancer), mainly.

It's important to note that once a cockatiel acts ill it's already quite ill and in need of the attention of an avian-oriented vet (please see here: This is a protective mechanism because sick birds are attacked by other birds in the wild and within their flock. I must admit, however, that Conrad would pose quite a challenge to an avian vet as he's likely to be too frail to be examined and tested properly. Be that as it may, 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 Conrad's 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 might 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.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Thanks. I have already moved his food and water to the bottom. I will increase the temp to make him more comfy.
I will go buy the supplements. How long can he live like this? There are no avian vets in my area.

Every day is a gift at his age. I recommend hospice for him. Keep him warm and spoil him rotten with any food you think he might enjoy. I feed these birds 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 continue our conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Thanks.I will pamper him. I hate to lose my little buddy. He's been a great companion.

You're welcome. I understand. His longevity is a testament to your good care. I can't set a follow-up in this venue so please return to our conversation - even after rating - with an update at your convenience. You can bookmark this page for ease of return.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Thanks so much.

You're quite welcome.

Dr. Michael Salkin and 3 other Pet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Thanks you for advice for Conrad. He flew over the Rainbow Bridge overnight. I will miss him forever. He knew how loved he was.

My condolences for your loss of Conrad. He was lucky to have you.

Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it. You may receive an inappropriate follow-up from the site ostensibly sent by me. It wasn't and I apologize in advance should you receive it.


I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Dr. Michael Salkin