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General Health Care Remember to use common sense and consult with an avian veterinarian.

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Old 01-09-2019, 09:33 AM
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Diabetes in birds

Recently, Pearl (my female budgie) has gotten sick, twice in one month. I rushed her to the vet on Wednesday the 2nd after noticing watery stool. Her infection from a month ago had come back. The vet took her blood sugar, and it was abnormally high. Her diet does not contain anything sugary, so it’s pretty concerning. The vet prescribed antibiotics for her infection.

This was terrible timing, as I left to go on holiday overseas the next day. I am now sitting in New York, on the other side of the world. I trust her carer, who is great with birds and knows exactly how to give her medicine. But I am most concerned about Pearl’s overall health, especially after hearing about her high blood sugar.

We have always believed that she has some kind of hormonal or metabolic imbalance. Her cere is consistently dark brown and crusty. It never changes colour. And yet, she does not display any hormonal behaviour. Initially I thought it was environmental, but my other two birds do show hormonal behaviour.

Then, after hearing about her blood sugar, I did some research on diabetes in budgies. All of her habits add up. Drinking and eating more than the other birds. Fluctuations in weight. Periods of watery stool. Frequent infections and a weak immune system. The vet told me to see her immediately as I get back. I think she didn’t want to worry me just before I went on holiday.

My poor baby is only a year and a half old, and I’m just so concerned about her. I know I shouldn’t jump to conclusions. But I have had a diabetic dog before and it is so hard to deal with. And she’s just a tiny little bird, I’m not even sure how diabetes is treated in little birds. To take blood sugar every day and give the correct dose of insulin is nigh impossible because of how risky it is for them to lose any blood. Apparently there are
other medications that can be taken, according to one website “Glipizide, metformin, and glyburide are three of the most common oral medications used in treating diabetes mellitus. These are much safer than insulin and easier to regulate.”
(Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/bird/condition/diabetes-mellitus ) I’m also just so worried about vet expenses.

What are your thoughts? Maybe I am jumping the gun here. I think I may be a little paranoid. I guess the only thing I can do is wait until I get back and see my vet again.
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:30 AM
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Re: Diabetes in birds

This is something Ellen might be able to offer more sage advice on. I'd consult with your vet immediately ASAP on your return. Hope it all turns out OK for your Pearl!
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:47 AM
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Re: Diabetes in birds

It's complicated in birds. They typically have very high glucose levels compared to mammals.

Also stress raises glucose levels in blood work temporarily. And most birds are very stressed at the vet office. This false high is also seen in cats , because they are very stressed at the vet office too.

I would worry other things are going on first. Budgies often have that mega bacterial ( now thought to be in the yeast family) so I would want a fecal exam and culture...

Plus budgies often have been exposed to more diseases and viruses, because they are housed in large numbers, then sold in pet stores with large numbers of budgies from other breeders... Abd their small size makes blood work more difficult. In addition they are cheap and plentiful so testing isn't done in the first place.

I'm so glad you are giving high level of care. And I hope you get answers.
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Old 01-09-2019, 12:06 PM
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Re: Diabetes in birds

Sorry to know Pearl is unwell and you are far from home, unable to manage a potential issue as you do so well.

While I have not dealt with potentially diabetic birds, the diagnosis is typically measured with humans. Diet and exercise changes are problematic with birds, so unsure the protocol. I recall you have an excellent CAV, a treasured resource.

I hope you can enjoy time away, knowing Pearl is in good hands.
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Old 01-09-2019, 02:00 PM
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Re: Diabetes in birds

Diabetes in birds isn't uncommon, usually it's due to a congenital/genetic issue though and not diet, unless they are eating nothing but fruit and fruit pellets, etc...but when Diabetes is caused by diet/sedentary lifestyle, it's treated differently than when it's a genetic condition...However, there are MANY things that can cause an elevated blood-glucose level in birds, as well as the other "habits" you mentioned, such as constant drinking and eating, and in birds and reptiles this usually isn't Diabetes, but rather a Kidney issue...

Has your Budgie had a full blood-workup done yet, including kidney and liver panels? That would be the first step, because without that we're just guessing.

What is your Budgie's regular, daily diet?
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Old 01-09-2019, 03:07 PM
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Re: Diabetes in birds

Quote: Originally Posted by Laurasea View Post
It's complicated in birds. They typically have very high glucose levels compared to mammals.

Also stress raises glucose levels in blood work temporarily. And most birds are very stressed at the vet office. This false high is also seen in cats , because they are very stressed at the vet office too.

I would worry other things are going on first. Budgies often have that mega bacterial ( now thought to be in the yeast family) so I would want a fecal exam and culture...

Plus budgies often have been exposed to more diseases and viruses, because they are housed in large numbers, then sold in pet stores with large numbers of budgies from other breeders... Abd their small size makes blood work more difficult. In addition they are cheap and plentiful so testing isn't done in the first place.

I'm so glad you are giving high level of care. And I hope you get answers.


Yes I’ve heard about the stress. This all happened on the 2nd of January. On New Year’s Eve, some a-hole was setting off fire crackers right above my house and all my birds got terrible frights as a result, so I believe she was pretty shaken after that. Also, she went to the vet alone, I had to drop her off since they were fully booked - my vet gave her a check-up when she was available during her lunch break. So I wasn’t there to comfort her and she was there for a bit longer than usual. Maybe I am jumping the gun with my worries... I guess there is nothing I can do until I’m back.

Apparently she is doing fine right now, still getting her medicine daily.
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Old 01-09-2019, 03:17 PM
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Diabetes in birds

Quote: Originally Posted by EllenD View Post
Diabetes in birds isn't uncommon, usually it's due to a congenital/genetic issue though and not diet, unless they are eating nothing but fruit and fruit pellets, etc...but when Diabetes is caused by diet/sedentary lifestyle, it's treated differently than when it's a genetic condition...However, there are MANY things that can cause an elevated blood-glucose level in birds, as well as the other "habits" you mentioned, such as constant drinking and eating, and in birds and reptiles this usually isn't Diabetes, but rather a Kidney issue...

Has your Budgie had a full blood-workup done yet, including kidney and liver panels? That would be the first step, because without that we're just guessing.

What is your Budgie's regular, daily diet?


Yes I am assuming the vet will want to do full blood work when I am back, as mentioned in my other reply they squeezed me in the other day because they knew I was going away and the practice was super busy after the holidays! I will ask her if that is possible. She’s a great vet luckily.

My birds get a varied diet, a pellet/seed mix (the best I can get in my country, vet recommended) and fresh vegetables from my garden (to ensure that there are no pesticides) every day. They also have access to a mineral block and cuttlebone in their cage. They currently have probiotics mixed into their water as she is on antibiotics. I try my best to give them a good diet.

I am sure that, if it is diabetes, it is genetic, as you mentioned.

Also, my birds get daily exercise out of the cage. She isn’t sedentary at all.
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Old 01-09-2019, 05:02 PM
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Re: Diabetes in birds

Sounds like you are such a wonderful mom!! I would not give anything I water as this leads to yeast overgrowth. I would sprinkle the probiotic over the food, and over the chop instead.
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Old 01-10-2019, 01:22 PM
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Re: Diabetes in birds

I heard from home yesterday, Pearl has improved on her medicine, which is good news! I go back in a week, so I’m just glad she’s in good hands right now while I am away. Thanks for everyone’s responses.
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Old 01-12-2019, 02:29 PM
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Re: Diabetes in birds

I agree, her diet sounds great...I also give a daily Probiotic supplement to all of my birds every single day, just as a health benefit, I use a powder Probiotic supplement (Qwiko), but I totally agree with Laura, please don't put the Probiotic powder or liquid, whichever you're using, into your bird's drinking water, as it immediately contaminates it as it starts growing bacteria and fungi/yeast immediately...And even more importantly than the fact that putting anything in their water contaminates the water is that birds don't drink much water throughout the day at all in the first place, so when you give them ANYTHING in their drinking water like vitamins, Probiotics, or any types of medications such as Antibiotics, Anti-Fungals, etc., you not only have no idea what dosage they are getting, but typically they don't get much, if any at all in the first place because they don't drink enough water...

A lot of Exotics Vets and "breeders" will recommend buying powdered Antibiotics from pet/bird shops and the directions always say "put the antibiotics in their daily drinking water", and that is just the worst thing you can do if you already have a sick bird, because you're only introducing more unwanted or "bad" bacteria into their GI Tracts, along with more Fungi/Yeast than anything else...So if any Vet ever tells you that you should give your bird any type of medication in their drinking water, you need to get a new Vet, it's horrible practice, doesn't get the proper dosage into your bird, and usually just ends-up making them even sicker...

I highly recommend that you do give your birds (all of them) a daily Avian Probiotic supplement, even when they aren't sick or taking an antibiotic, but please stop putting the Probiotics or anything else into their drinking water...If it's a powdered or liquid Probiotic supplement, then all you need to do is sprinkle it or pour it on top of your bird's seed-mix and they'll get the entire dose (which should be very little powder or liquid to begin with) when they shell the seeds. So not only will they get the entire dose, but you won't be contaminating their drinking water either...
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