Cockatiel died .. a couple of questions

by Terri
(Moundsillve, WV)

My cockatiel died on May 15th. He was with us for 15 years. He has never been to the vet but he was very well socialized and has been around a lot of different people. My mom took him to the vet the morning of his death just because she wanted to vet to check him out and he has arthritis so she wanted the vet to look him over. He was not showing signs of illness... he has been sick in the past and we know the signs. We usually feed him yogurt (as suggested by a avian vet when he was young) when he is sick.
My mom told me that Jake (my bird)was given two shots- a vitamin shot and a anti-inflammatory shot. The vet said he had a respiratory infection and she removed buildup from his nostrils. She then used water to flush it out. She used two full syringes with water. Jake seemed fine for awhile after the appointment. It was Saturday so the vet was not in later. That night she said he was showing signs of being sick but we thought he was just tired... as I said we are not novice bird owners. She was planning to call the vet and give him yogurt if he did not improve by morning.

He sat with my parents until it was his bed time... then he was gone the next morning. I know the vet was only trying to help. I am not blaming them. I was just wondering what might have happened based on the treatments? Do you think it was water intoxication? He was drinking that evening as well so we did not think he was seriously ill.. because he normally stops drinking.

He was fine before the appointment... it was just his first checkup. He was also fine for most of the day after the appointment. I know birds go downhill fast but it was really fast. I think knowing what actually happened would help give me peace. I do not want to have him autopsied... I am merely asking for the best guess. Thank you for your time, Terri Rose

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May 18, 2011
Cockatiel died - possible nutrition problem
by: The Avian Vet

I am so sorry for your loss. This may be a complicated case and I do not have enough information to put together a diagnosis, but I can give you some insight into what may have happened.

First, birds should see an avian veterinarian annually for vaccines and well bird checks. This will give the veterinarian a chance to see a bird when it is healthy and establish normal values for future comparison if needed. This will also help to reveal any illness that a bird may be hiding. Sick birds almost always start out without symptoms, but the symptoms can be subtle and are often overlooked by owners.

Second, I do not know the condition of your bird which could have been sick with no apparent symptoms. There are many things that could have been going on before he went to the doctor, and the stress of his first visit may have precipitated an illness. A nasal flush is very stressful but it is not likely that it caused water intoxication.

I do not know what the anti-inflammatory injection was, but steroids are often contraindicated in birds. The vitamin injection was likely harmless. Third, the advice you were given about yogurt is entirely false. Yogurt is not good for birds. If it is a dairy-based yogurt that is particularly bad because birds are naturally lactose intolerant. Even if it is non-dairy, the bacteria in the yogurt culture is not appropriate flora for a bird and does not help the GI system at all.

Fourth, at age 15, although a young age, health problems can begin. You mentioned arthritis and there are other issues too. For example, chronic nutritional problems, in particularly vitamin A deficiency. If you bird is not on a pellet diet, like Harrison's, then it is guaranteed that he had nutritional deficiencies. One of the worst is vitamin A deficiency. If vitamin A is deficient, it will cause respiratory disease and kidney failure without ever showing any symptoms. Feeding seeds as a primary diet will shorten the lives of birds by several years.

In summary, I feel that there were some underlying problems that were not apparent; the stress of the vet visit was contributory; and I cannot comment on the treatments because I was not there to witness them, but I may have handled this case a little differently if the assumptions I have made were true.

Dr B

May 17, 2011
Cockatiel died .. a couple of questions
by: Linda

I'm very sorry for your loss, and I know you and family are hurting right now. Unfortunately the only way to know exactly what killed your bird is by avian vet doing a necropsy, so you may want to do that if your bird's body is still available.

I do not think anything in the treatment hurt him though I don't know what the shots consisted of. He could have had an allergic reaction to one of them, so you may want to find out what they were and ask our resident Avian Vet, Dr. B about them.

I realize you've done the best you can for your bird and that you all loved him and probably will continue to love him forever. However, yogurt is NOT good for birds and depending on type of yogurt, could have caused problems. When an Avian Vet first suggested it, they were talking about a specific problem at that time, and please don't give anything else not prescribed in the now by an Avian Vet because what worked one time may not work again.

We also recommend yearly visits to the avian vet to catch any problems that may be present before they get too bad. Infections do not go away by giving yogurt or any other home remedy. They, first have to be diagnosed by an avian vet and then treated accordingly.

If you plan on getting another bird, have it checked out the first few days you have it as all birds coming from pet stores are already sick. These infections are usually bacterial, and they will not go away without an avian vet's prescribed medicine after they have properly diagnosed type of bacteria. Yearly trips after that or if bird looks sick or has sudden changes in behavior are highly recommended. We also recommend a diet of organic pellets like Harrison's which is avian vet endorsed and a high quality diet for parrots of all kinds.

Thanks for writing and so very sorry for your loss. As I said, find out what meds were given your bird and ask Dr. B about them. I feel that your bird had a long-term infection or other physical problem, and he finally just gave up the battle, but without necropsy results, I'm just making an educated guess.

Linda

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