Twitching & Feather Plucking Blue Front Amazon

by Dotty

My 30 year old, male, Blue-Front Amazon suddenly began twitching and plucking his feathers under his wings about a month ago. He stopped briefly, then began plucking and twitching in earnest again. He now has almost no feathers on his lower body. My vet has done, so far:
6/1 - Hormone injection (lupron) - results, no effect
-Metacam .2cc 2xday - helpful, I think for any pain from the feather plucking,
and now some regrowth
-Hydroxvzine .4cc 3xday for itching...this antihystimine had the opposite effect
and resulted in horrible twitching, and not calming...switched
medicines after 5 days to:
-Diazepam/Valium - 5cc 3xday - this has helped to calm him down...
6/9 - Complete Blood Exotic Chemistry - resulted in slightly elevated White Blood
Count (from feather picking? or stress?) and a very high CK
levels. Vet said blood work for kidneys and liver are fine,
but wanted to do a culture, looking for any type of bacterial or
gram negative infection.
6/19 -Culture & Antibiotics w/Sulpha SMZ-TMP - .14cc 2xday
6/25 - Culture results - all normal floura (gram positive, like ecoli in stools),
but nothing gram negative.

We have a complete blood panel, with oral and vent swabs scheduled for 7/3/12. My bird is still on Metacam, Valium and SMZ-TMP. His is still plucking his new feather growth, but not as severly. He is still twitching occasionally. This tells me the medications are only masking something. When on these meds, he's almost normal, eating, talking, chewing up woods, but the symptoms continue.

My vet's next step after this new blood work and swabs would be x-rays, etc.
I'm not sure what x-rays would uncover. I very hesitant to sedate the bird for x-rays. He has tolerated all the procedures and meds so far, but I don't want to add to his stress.

Any help or suggestions would be sincerely appreciated.
Thank you.

Comments for Twitching & Feather Plucking Blue Front Amazon

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Apr 29, 2013
Twithing & Feather Plucking Blue Front Amazon
by: Anonymous

Just as an update...after 2 months of blood panels, valium, metacam and smz and no improvement, I took my parrot to UPenn, where Dr. Nicole Wyre promptly retested him for Avian Bornavirus, which came back positive. Hence, all the reasons for the feather plucking, twitching, etc. There is no cure for this virus, only symptom management. My beloved Oscar lived another month, but was unable to tolerate an increase dose of metacam and tramadol (and reduced does of valium). It was unbearably sad to see him suffer, and I knew he would not be able to tolerate additional meds (gabapenton for his symptoms). He was a gentle soul parrot...very, very sweet. He most likely caught this dreaded virus from my other parrot who escaped and was recaptured, and she is the most probable carrier.

Apr 27, 2013
tips on plucking
by: emerald bird rescue

we have taken in many birds with plucking and twitching problems. i have found fungus seems to be an issue in many of them. we treat with peroxide then bathing them once a week. Then we treat with lamisil and tanactin powder. this treatment seems to be working well. our vet recommended this to us.if you would like to chat with me i am always interseted in hearing advise and experiences of others.
(Links removed, people can look up your rescue online)

Jun 30, 2012
Twitching & Feather Plucking Amazon
by: Dotty

Comment to Dr. B
Thank you for replying.
The dosage of SMZ is .14cc 2xday and my bird weights just over 12 oz. (I can get the exact grams for you later.)
We are doing a blood panel and swabs this Tuesday. Without the valium he would not be able to stop twitching, hopping, foot tapping and feather plucking. I have tried to reduce the dosage by .1cc and it has resulted in more feathers being plucked, including the ones that have begun to grow back. The valium dosage that seems to work is .5cc every 8 hours.

Thank you again,

Jun 28, 2012
Twitching and plucking Amazon parrot
by: The Avian Vet

The symptoms you describe can be caused by many different things. Examples include poor nutrition (specifically calcium deficiency), neurological disease, toxins such as lead and zinc, liver disease, possibly kidney disease, hypoglycemia, Giardia, external parasites (very rare), skin disease, behavioral issues such as anxiety, viral disease such as avian bornavirus, and others. I recommend that you have him tested to zinc and lead; you should do the x-rays even thought there is a slight risk, however, further blood work should come first, including lead and zinc tests, full chemistry panel, protein electrophoresis, and DNA sexing.

I suspect that the dose of SMZ is not correct, but I do not know the concentration nor your bird’s body weight. I also do not recommend that you give him valium. This is only going to cause sedation and is not addressing the primary cause.

I cannot interpret the blood results without looking at the exact values. I am happy to look at the blood work and consult on this case if you are interested. For more in depth review of the records and discussion of the case there is a nominal fee. Please let me know if you are interested.

Dr B

Jun 27, 2012
Twitching and ZuPreem pellets
by: Tracie

First of all, Dr B will eventually answer this, but now that I know you feed Zupreem, you need to know that Dr B says "ZuPreem has lots of sugar which can cause yeast infections and can lead to digestive problems. Also all of the artificial ingredients can cause problems too."

ZuPreem has been known to cause twitching and other problems in birds, so I would switch your bird from those right away and replace them with either Harrison's or Roudybush pellets.

Switching Birds To Pellets article

Jun 27, 2012
Twitching & Feather Plucking Amazon
by: Dotty

Linda, Thanks for responding and I am in agreement with all that you say. But, w/o the Diazepam my bird will not stop twitching. The Metacam is in case he's in any pain the the SMZ-TMP is for the slightly elevated WBC. The initial blood work indicated a very elevated CK (kreatine?) level, but the kidneys and liver looked OK. I'm trying to reduce the diazepam. His feathers are beginning to grow back, though he is still plucking them, not as ferociously. My other bird is fine. She did get out last summer for 2 weeks before we captured her. The vet thinks she might have brought something back with her, but it's been almost a year. My birds eat only fresh fruits, veggies, Zupreem pellets, and human parsley, etc. Our water is well water, but I will use filtered.

Jun 26, 2012
Twitching & Feather Plucking Blue Front Amazon
by: Linda

My first suggestion is to find another Avian Vet and take results of what has been done and given thus far to them. Find an Avian Vet All the drugs your bird is being given are very dangerous especially in concert like this. DO NOT LET THEM DO ANY XRAYS!!! I believe XRays are not warranted and this is just more padding of the bill.

Bird may be suffering from some kind of food allergy or something in environment and all the tests in the world will not show this while you are getting poorer all the time.

I have Amazons who are in late 30's, and they eat Harrison's pellets and have NO physical problems. The only time they go to the vet is to have nails and beak clipped.

There could also be problems with your water supply, so have someone come out and test it to see what is REALLY in there. We have to pay for special filtering of our water because it has so much crap in it. Our birds would already be dead just from chlorine and fluoride if we did not have reverse osmosis system. We rent it, so Culligan takes care of changing filters and testing water regularly.

I suggest you get bird OFF all the chemicals and take a look at what your bird is eating and anything in the environment that may be causing allergies. This could include any household cleaners, room deoderizers are poison for birds and this includes scented candles and the kind that plug into socket. It also includes the spray kind as well. Basically birds need to live in a chemcal free home using only bird safe cleaners like Focus found here. The Focus can be used for all cleaning jobs around the house.

For now, I suggest you get your bird's records together, find another Avian Vet and get the other vet to fax over all the testing done and meds given so far. If they refuse to do this for you, then ask for copies of every single visit with all chart notes. The new vet needs to see what has already been done with no positive results.

Food allergies are also common with birds, and would include any and all human foods which do not belong in a bird's body. All seed diets leave birds at risk for any and all infections though it sounds like yours has no infections. The Sulpha you mentioned I believe is deadly to birds, so stop giving that right away.

As I said either find another vet or get this one to start looking in direction of allergies or even parasites. None of us are made of money, and this vet seems to think you are a virtual bank with no end to the cash flow!

My thoughts are allergies, so find another avian vet or talk with this one about allergies.Please forgive me but this kind of thing makes me furious. Avian Vets have no right to take advantage of us just because we love our birds.

Keep us posted,

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