Enlarged Liver and Heart in a Blue and Gold Macaw

by Jess
(Chesapeake, VA, USA)

My 8 year old Blue and Gold macaw started showing illness symptoms that we couldn't pinpoint.
Sneezing, runny nose, difficulty breathing and vomiting (NOT regurgitating).
We brought him to an avian vet and shortly afterwards, he passed away. The autopsy found an enlarged heart and liver.
I've researched any disease that might have caused this - I have an African Grey and want to prevent any problems like this in the future. Have you heard of anything like this in a bird?
Thank you in advance for any guidance.

Comments for Enlarged Liver and Heart in a Blue and Gold Macaw

Click here to add your own comments

Apr 25, 2012
Cocktail died too
by: Anonymous

My bird was a cocktail she was 1 year old she was making a squeaky noise instead of a chirp when I came home from school she had passed away

Oct 08, 2009
Blue and Gold Macaw with enlarged liver
by: The Vet

Vomiting macaws make me first thing of PDD ? Proventricular Dilatation Disease caused by Avian Bornavirus. However, the respiratory symptoms do not fit with this disease. Nor does the enlarged heart and liver. Although many viruses will predispose birds to secondary infections. If your bird was not vaccinated for Avian Polyomavirus, then this could be a possible cause with secondary infections, but the symptoms your bird showed would be atypical for this disease.

It is possible that your bird had more than one disease process occurring simultaneously. The respiratory symptoms are consistent with an upper respiratory infection or irritation such as exposure to toxic fumes or tobacco smoke.

You should take your grey in for a well-bird check up. Have them test for PDD, in addition, a CBC and chemistry panel should be done. You should also consider doing x-rays. If your grey is showing any respiratory symptoms, then do a culture of the choana and a nasal flush culture, too. Poor diets can exacerbate these problems, so be sure you are feeding a good pellet diet such as Harrison's. 80% of the diet needs to be pellets.

Dr B

Oct 07, 2009
by: Linda

If no infection either bacterial or viral showed up in the necropsy, I'd say this was a result of a life of bad eating and not enough exercise.Not that you did or didn't do anything. Birds move around quite a bit, and each family feeds them whatever they wish, so the cumulative effect is overweight, unhealthy birds who spend too much time sitting in cages.

The only diet for a parrot is Harrison's pellets, and Tracie carries them out here. Fresh, organic veggies like baked sweet potato, squash and green leafy (not spinich) are all good. Harrisons also has a Birdy Bread Mix that is easy to put together and stores in freezer for up to 6 months. The bread will help in converting your bird over to the pellets if he has been eating seeds and to Harrisons' pellets if he has been eating another kind of pellet.

An enlarged liver is indicative of fatty liver disease, and could have put too much stress on the heart as well. I would suggest you NOT feed your birds ANY people food as snacks as most people food is full of sugar and salt plus FAT. Make sure birds either get out of cages enough to get plenty of exercise on a play gym or make sure cages are large enough for birds to spread their wings and flap without hitting sides or anything else in cage.

Depending on how old your Macaw was, as birds age, they can become victim to same problems as humans, and the list is endless. Please take your birds into an Avian vet at least once a year for a blood workup and testing for infections and/or parasites.

I am so sorry you lost your beautiful bird, and I know you are heartbroken. Keep your other bird or birds on a healthy, organic diet and keep snacks to a minimum and in the form of organic fruit and veggies when you do. Fruit and veggies should be no more than 10% of a bird's overal diet. The Birdy Bread that Harrisons' makes can be up to 30% of the diet if nothing else is added to the mix. Also be sure to buy the organic red palm oil, Sunshine Factor to put in mix, and then it's just 2 eggs or egg whites and some water. It is delicious and comes in 3 different kinds. It will help change your bird over to the Harrisons' pellets because it's base is same as the pellets. Our Amazons love their pellets and birdy bread which is given a few times a week as snacks.

My heart goes out to you, and I KNOW you will keep on top of things with your other bird or birds you have left. An immediate trip to vet would be a great start, and a wholesome diet is the next most important aspect of keeping healthy birds healthy.

Many Blessings to You and Your Family from Ours,

Click here to add your own comments