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Old 10-29-2018, 12:49 PM
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Cockatiel mourning and sick

Hi everyone. The last week has been tough for the cockatiels and us and at this point I just needed to vent and maybe gets words of advice.

Last week, our female cockatiel suddenly got ill. We took her to the vet on an emergency visit but she passed the same night (Wednesday). Since then, our male cockatiel has not been the same.

The first issue I noticed was lethargy. When our female cockatiel was dying, he spent all his time just silently sitting by her. Thus I could not tell if he sad or ill that night as I had seen these guys only through video this past week (I was in a different city until Friday night and family was sending me updates). Come the Saturday morning I noticed undigested seeds in his feces and the lethargy was still there. With that we had another emergency visit to the vet this past Saturday.

At the vet, they initially said nothing seems to be wrong with him and he was full of fight during the visit. An hour later, the vet said that there may be a slight click in the lungs on auscultation and prescribed an antibiotic course. She also said the bird is not pooping and that is weird. We asked if we could see the bird for a bit to calm him down, which would let him poop. Luckily that worked and he let out a large, seed-filled poop.

The poop was then examined under the microscope and no anomalies were found. With that and 3 hours later, we went home with the course of antibiotics and were told to make sure to monitor his weight.

The lethargy and seeds in feces did not subside until yesterday morning. Sometime in the afternoon, he pooped a healthy poop but still was relatively lethargic. I figured if seeds were not being digested he will starve, thus I also began tube feeding him on top of the medications.

It seemed to have helped by nightfall yesterday. He had more energy in being his aggressive self but still wasn't interest in the other things he usually does. His weight has also gone up since Saturday as well. This morning he's awake and alert but still not interested in singing or playing like he used to. He is still flying just fine when he has to and gave the biggest fuss yet during medication and feeding time. Nonetheless, he is clearly still very down.

The next vet followup is this very soon but until then, I was hoping to hear you folks' experiences in such cases. For those whose bird buddies have lost their friend, how did the birds behave and how long did any depressive phase last? Moreover, any experiences with seeds in the feces? Of course the fear of PDD comes but the vet did not suspect that just yet.

Thanks a bunch everyone, you guys have helped me through a lot.
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Old 10-29-2018, 03:25 PM
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Re: Cockatiel mourning and sick

First let me say I am very sorry for your loss.

Secondly, is your vet an avian specialist? Was she able to tell you why your female cockatiel died? And/or whether your surviving bird is similarly affected? Has she done blood tests on him?

Undigested seed in his poop doesn’t sound good either way. He is most likely in mourning for his lost friend on top of anything else. I’m glad you have a follow up vet visit scheduled and I hope your vet is bird specialised and not just someone who does “exotics”.

Do keep us posted with any updates and I hope your little guy will be ok!
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Old 10-29-2018, 06:16 PM
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Re: Cockatiel mourning and sick

Quote: Originally Posted by LaManuka View Post
First let me say I am very sorry for your loss.

Secondly, is your vet an avian specialist? Was she able to tell you why your female cockatiel died? And/or whether your surviving bird is similarly affected? Has she done blood tests on him?

Undigested seed in his poop doesn’t sound good either way. He is most likely in mourning for his lost friend on top of anything else. I’m glad you have a follow up vet visit scheduled and I hope your vet is bird specialised and not just someone who does “exotics”.

Do keep us posted with any updates and I hope your little guy will be ok!
Thank you for the kind words and your help!

So the first vet (for our deceased cockatiel) we went to was a general clinic due to the time constraint. They stated that the vet we were assigned was their sole bird specialist. She didn't do any testing, just stated it's likely the bird will die and that is what happened. There were no symptoms except the bird being underweight in our dying cockatiel and she just stated there is something congenital that is the likely underlying cause of what was manifesting at the time.

The second vet is the vet I go to for the regular checkups on all my birds. They are for "exotics" but get a lot of birds. Unfortunately the usual vet who I trusted left the practice, so we have been assigned to a new vet. It seems this vet is an intern in exotics and avians which does make me a bit worried but I don't consider myself in a place to judge.

Our surviving tiel's is different in that he has the symptoms of undigested seed and perhaps the faint lung clicks the vet reported on the second auscultation. Our lost cockatiel only had rapid lethargy which unfortunately turned for the worst.

Our current cockatiel was doing better in the morning, but after the medications he seems down again. I checked the cage liners for feces and seeds are back, just not in the same amount there were on Saturday, which I guess is a slight improvement. His weight today is still steady at 80 g. I will continue the formula feeding as he's not getting anywhere near the Harrison's and I can't risk a lack of seed digestion further complicating whatever is hurting him.

Thank you again so much for your help, it means a lot to me.
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Old 10-29-2018, 08:30 PM
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Re: Cockatiel mourning and sick

Sorry for your loss!!! Very sad !!! That said I do not think it was congenital that is beyond rare especially in an adult bird! She was sick with something... sadly. I am very worried for your boy!! Greif does not equal undigested seed in poop. Something is making him sick as well...please try and find an avian specialist even if you have time drive two hours...added warmth helps sick birds if you can make the house Warner , buy a cage warmer, even keeping a lamp turned on by the corner but cover that cirber with s sheet so the light doesn't shine in..you can add probiotics to the food, or feed a small amount of live culture yogurt. If you can offer peppers they have vit A and Vit c very good fir them. Clean the cage bowls perches with dilute vinegar and then hand dry it because vinegar is an acid and can burn. Clean everything very well. Sometimes they will nible on leafy greens that's good for him too. You can make bird bread and stuff it full of veggies if you think he might eat that. Seed eaters often have liw vit A and that makes it easier for them to get sick, abd harder to get well... If you are force feeding (which I am not for) then you could add some pureed Pumpkin to that it has vit A and fiber that might help stool... Good luck, keep us posted!
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Last edited by Laurasea; 10-29-2018 at 08:32 PM.
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Old 10-29-2018, 08:41 PM
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Re: Cockatiel mourning and sick

I also lost a GCC leaving my Ta-dah very depressed I spent a lot if extra time sitting with her and talking and pretending to eat food from her bowl with her, and a lot of love and cuddles they shared a cage and slept in a hut together they were very bonded and she did grieve.... But she would eat as long as I was talking and sitting with her..., Certainly greif can lower his immunity with whatever he is fighting... I would recommend sone time outside in the sun/ part shade with you if is nice and warm whever you live...
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Old 10-31-2018, 01:13 PM
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Re: Cockatiel mourning and sick

I would highly recommend that you take a fresh fecal sample with you to your next visit and have them do an actual Fecal Culture on it, not just microscopy...You didn't have a necropsy done on your female I'm assuming, since you didn't mention it, so you have no idea why she died. I'm not a fan of vets who prescribe an antibiotic (usually just a broad-spectrum one like Baytril) without actually taking a culture from their throat/nostrils/sinus flush and actually diagnosing if their is an infection, what microbe is causing it, and THEN prescribing the correct antibiotic to treat that microbe the first time around. You have no idea whether or not your bird has an Upper Respiratory Infection or a Lung Infection/Pneumonia at all simply based on a "click", nor do you know if it's bacterial or fungal, so he may be taking whatever antibiotic he's taking for no reason at all...What if it's fungal? That antibiotic he's taking will only make a fungal infection worse (and may cause a GI fungal/yeast infection anyway, so he should be on a daily Probiotic like Benebac or Qwiko Avian Probiotic for the entire time he's taking the antibiotic, and then for at least a week after he finishes it)...It could be as serious as Aspergilliosis, it could be Psittacosis (any eye infection/conjunctivitis?), etc., and all of these infections/diseases call for totally different and very specific antibiotics and/or anti-fungal meds...So the point is that they shouldn't ever give a bird an antibiotic on a whim, or a "just in case" basis, because it can make them much, much worse, causes secondary fungal infections, and may not be doing anything at all because it's the wrong one for what they actually have, if they have anything at all..

Anytime one bird dies suddenly and unexpectedly, and then you have a second bird who was housed with the one who died, a necropsy is highly recommended simply to protect your remaining bird. Psittacosis usually isn't fatal, but Aspergilliosis can be, as can GI infections, whether bacterial or fungal...And yes, your male is probably missing his mate, but that wouldn't cause his GI Tract to not properly digest food...So he should have had a routine Fecal Culture done, along with routine, "baseline" blood-work, if he hasn't ever had that done before...His WBC will tell you immediately whether or not he's actually suffering from any type of infection, and you'll also get to see whether or not his liver and kidneys are functioning normally. There are a lot of things that can cause them to not properly digest food, and many of them have to do with the liver, so that's why it's a concern.

I would request at the very least a Fecal Culture and take a fresh sample with you, but I would also request that they do a routine blood-draw from his neck (no big deal if your vet is an Avian Vet) and they run routine blood-work to check his liver and kidney functions, along with a CBC, etc. This will give you the whole picture as to what is going on...And you'll have baseline blood-levels to compare to in the future for him...

But the big deal here is that his cagemate died suddenly, they don't know why, and now he is also exhibiting signs/symptoms of illness, so the Vet should know not to simply prescribe an antibiotic without running any cultures or blood-work, or even a plain x-ray to look at his lungs. Most Certified Avian Vets/Avian Specialist Vets will not just prescribe antibiotics to a bird without knowing they need them, and knowing exactly which drug they need...so that's a big red-flag...
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