Cockatiel with dark abdominal fluid

by Emily Arnold

Hi. I noticed something was wrong with my cockatiel one day when I let her out. She flew across the room and was out of breath when she landed. Shortly after I noticed her stomach was very swollen. I initially thought she had an egg in there. After she hadn't laid an egg in over a week, I took her to a vet. They confirmed there was no egg but rather dark tea-colored fluid was drawn from her abdomen which the vet said he has never come across this color. The fluid has since filled her abdomen once again. I am taking her back to the vet this week to have more drawn and sent off for lab testing.

I am clueless on if I should get x-rays or what else I should do in this situation. She is 11 years old, never has had health issues including laying eggs, never been with a male, she acts normal for the most part, eats regularly, stool is still normal. Have you heard of such a thing or can you point me in the right direction?

Comments for Cockatiel with dark abdominal fluid

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May 11, 2016
bird with fluid on adomend
by: zetta

i took her to the dr in jan and she proplast,and they surgical put everything back in four months later her abdomened started swelling and getting bigger......he told me today that if he done surgery she could die if i dont do something she going to heart is breaking apart right now for my baby she my cockatiel....she only four years old.....OMG ...dama if do dama if you dont......i dont want her to suffer......she eating and stuff.....and playing and cuddling ....but still.....dont want her to be in pain.

Mar 19, 2013
Belly Fluid
by: PaddyCakes

Our Pionus had the same problem, and I never realize she was so terribly ill. Dr. did barium X-ray, and found a lot of fluid in her abdomen and her intestines pushed down to the bottom of her body cavity. She was dying and I never new, I just never new. My sweet 13 year old passed away and we are stunned and brokenhearted/devastated. Dr. did not know from what, but suspected liver tumor but I was not going to pay and have a necropsy and desecrate his body. My own thoughts are she had the Avian Borna virus, but doctor is not sure and leans towards liver disease. She said Borna virus does not cause fluid build in body.

I am so sorry for your birdie, and I sure she has passed by now. We feel guilt that there must be something we could have done. May God rest his soul and I believe we will be together again, one day.

Oct 21, 2010
Bird with abdominal fluid
by: The Avian Vet

This could be liver disease, heart disease, cancer, or peritonitis. I recommend doing an exploratory laparoscopy (if she is stable), x-rays with barium contrast, and continue to drain the abdomen and do serial testing on the fluid to note the changes.

Dr B

Oct 18, 2010
by: Emily Arnold

I received the test results today.....
Description: The slides and cytospin are adequately cellular and contain low numbers of nondegenerate heterophils and macrophages. no bacteria or other infectious agents are observed, nor are any neoplastic cells seen.
Microscopic Findings: Modified Transudate
White Blood Count: 783/uL - RBC 4,000/uL
Protein: 2.6 g/dL
Please give any recommendations and/or advice.
Thank you!

Oct 15, 2010
Cockatiel all see diet
by: Tracie

Your bird should be on a healthy pellet diet, like Harrison's or Roudybush. Please read the Switching Birds to Pellets article that was written by an avian vet for more information.

We have other good articles on our Parrot Training page.

Oct 14, 2010
by: Emily

Thank you so much for your responses. I took her to the vet again today. She got 9cc's of abdominal fluid drawn to send off for lab testing. This time it was a clear yellow color. She has been in good spirits and eating normal. Her drinking may have decreased a little. She is still grooming herself regularly, has a good disposition and is playing with toys. I should get the lab results back in a few days. Also, her beak is growing very fast. She had it trimmed a month ago and had to again tonight. The vet is saying from his experience, whatever the case, it will call for exploritory surgery but as you know, these procedures can be very expensive and life-threatening. The vet was quite discouraging and made it sound like no matter what I do , she will be dead soon. Please give me your thoughts on that....and on her symptoms?? Also, she is currently on an all seed diet. Any recommendations on what to include/exclude from her diet?

Oct 02, 2010
Cockatiel dark abdominal fluid
by: The Avian Vet

This is a very serious condition and you need to make sure that your bird is being cared for by an avian specialist. The first fluid that was drawn should have been sent in for a diagnosis. Waiting only made matters worse. Abdominal fluid can come from heart disease, liver disease, cancer, or a few other sources and can be worsened by a poor diet (such as seed-only diets). You need to have the fluid analyzed, have x-rays taken, hospitalize your bird so she can get fluids, medication and supportive care.

Dr B

Oct 01, 2010
Cockatiel with dark abdominal fluid
by: Linda

The right direction is to work with the Avian Vet you are seeing. I don't know why they have not already sent the fluid to a lab for analysis because your bird is not going to make it much longer. This could be a tumor that is rupturing or it could be her guts that have ruptured. Either way, this is a critical situation. See if you can rush up the testing because your bird is in serious trouble. If her gut has ruptured for some reason, then her entire system will be poisoned shortly, and she will die a horrible, painful death.

Hopefully you are seeing an Avian Vet because regular dog and cat vets will kill your bird not help it. They are not licensed or trained to diagnose or treat birds and do not know what they are doing. They will go through the motions and charge your for it, but the end result is death for your bird and much money for you to pay.

Let us know what the test results show, and treatment of some kind is needed immediately. A perforated gut can be caused from bird ingesting something sharp like a piece of wire or a toy part too small for your size bird, and it tears holes in their digetive tract all the way down which would cause fluids to leak out into the adominal cavity.

Good Luck and God Bless your poor little bird.


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