Cockatiel w/sore under his right wing

by Pattie Weber
(Biglerville, PA - USA)

I have 2 female Cockatiels and 1 male and have had them for 7 years. Zippy, the male, has recently started biting at his feathers. I thought that perhaps the house is too dry from winter/heating. They have a diet of seeds, oatmeal and sometimes shredded wheat, cheerios, eggs and veggies. They hate fruit for some reason.

I usually spray them with warm water when I bathe them, although it is not every day in winter, but I try to give them a spritz bath at least once a week.

Today, Zippy was showing off and spread his wings for me and that is when I noticed a dime-sized sore under his right wing. He does pick at it a little. I have no avian vet in my area..which is frustrating.

Is there anything that I can treat this with? This has never happened before, he has plenty of room in the large cage he shares with the females, he has his freedom to fly if he desires, because I keep the cage top and doors open during the day.

They are covered at night - and he's definitely not sexually frustrated, because one of my female Cockatiels is his "girlfriend"...so I can only assume at this point that he might have dry skin.

They have no reason to have mites - I thought of buying a cage protector, but the chemical content scares me and I don't want to have it on the cage where they could peck at it. I keep the cage clean, although I don't break it down and clean it completely as often as I should, but the tray is cleaned 3 times a week, and their food and water are changed every day.

Is there an ointment I could apply to his underwing? He displays no other symptoms, his droppings are normal, and he eats, flies, plays normally. I don't know how long the sore has been there, but I have noticed him excessively grooming himself for about a month. Please Help. Pattie

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Feb 01, 2009
Cockatiel with sore under wing
by: The Vet

Sores under the wing are usually axillary dermatitis. Another differential would be a tumor. This is certainly a veterinarian should look at and if you can find one in driving distance it will be worth the trip.

Axillary dermatitis is serious and can become very serious without the proper treatment. There is not topical treatment that I can recommend without seeing your bird and diagnosing the problem. Topical treatment is only part of the plan; he also needs oral antibiotics, and pain medication to reduce the inflammation.

Do not use an ointment on your bird. These are greasy and will ruin his feathers, thereby making them not work to keep him protected from cold and other elements.

You are correct in not using the cage protectors. They are nothing but trouble and it is very unlikely that this is a mite infestation.

One potential contributing factor is nutritional imbalance. You should be feeding your birds a pellet diet. The seed, even with supplements, do not offer a complete and balanced diet. Your bird is lacking Vitamin A, calcium, omega fatty acids, protein, and many other nutrients; all of which are important in maintaining healthy skin. I recommend and encourage you to switch them to Harrison's
pellets as 80% of their diet. The remaining 20% can be any of the treats that you mentioned.

Some other suggestions include:
1- switching them to a Lixit water bottle. These are more sanitary than bowls. Bowls should be cleaned every 3 hours to prevent bacteria buildup. Bottles can be changed once daily. However, you need to check them twice daily to be sure they are functioning properly.

2- providing all of your birds with a full spectrum light for 2-4 hours per day. This will help in many ways. It will enable your birds to see better; it will make them become more active and eat better; and it will help nutritionally with producing vitamin D3 in the skin, further improving their skin.

If you need help getting your bird to eat pellets, you can read my Switching Birds to Pellets article.

Dr B

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