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

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Old 10-29-2020, 09:43 PM
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How to live with PDD - specifically for ekkie

My first post on this forum was a year ago. I was planning to get a bird, so I came to ask the 101 question - what to expect. The answers I received were very helpful, but they didn't prepare me for what was about to happen. My 12 year old ekkie (now probably 13) was diagnosed with PDD.

November 2019, I took Winston home. Upon health check, he tested positive Avianborna virus (ABV).
March 2020, he started regurgitating but it was spring.
April 2020, I noticed a weight loss of 10 grams.
May 2020, he smelled sour. Vet gave nystatin.
June 2020, sour bird continued. Vet suggested the possibility of PDD.
August 2020, stopped going to local vet, avian vet we go.
September 2020, PDD confirmed.
Almost November 2020, within a year, we went from birdie newbies to chronic disease bird caretakers. Winston is alive at the moment, so I'm writing this post to document/celebrate the adventure.

We are lucky. Winston didn't develop symptoms until he's 12 or 13, so his prognosis is a lot better than the ones who get sick young. Also, we were informed it was likely PDD early, so we headed towards the right direction very quickly. For these reasons, Winston had been doing quite well. Now, let me share how we did it so far, so others can benefit from our experience. However, I'm not a vet, so please do not take this as medical advice. This is supposed to be how to take care post.

Before your bird get sick (Every parront should do this)
1. WEIGHT YOUR BIRD
Please don't mind me caping and bolding, but this is SO IMPORTANT. If your bird is healthy, you can get away with weighting once per week. If you have any suspicion, weight daily.
Winston looked completely normal initially, but he had lost 30 grams. Please, please, please keep track of your bird's weight. We have a running excel sheet, and you will see how it saved his life later.

2. Syringe training
Okay, let's face it. Birds are living organisms, and they will get sick. You will need to medicate your bird, and you don't want birdy burrito towel twice a day. It kills the trust between you and your bird. Start to syringe train early. You can use the syringe as a target. We gave watered down fruit juice through a syringe to Winston, so he associated it with yummy sweetness. As a result, he happily takes his meds daily. (Thanks to the tutti frutti flavored meds, too!)

You have suspicions, but not diagnosed
1. Symptoms check
In my experience, PDD starts out like digestive issues. Winston has bubbles in his poo, and the sour crop kicked in. Digestive issues are not uncommon, and there can be multiple causes. However, you need to be very alert if the sour crop does not go away with medication.

2. Know your enemy
Please research. This is a very good article to start. I use the term PDD because it is more well-known, but the newer term of PDD is Avian Ganglioneuritis (AG). You'll find more recent vet practice if you use the term AG on Google. I strongly encourage you keep a printed copy.

3. Weight your bird food
Your bird may be losing weight now, and you need to know how much it eats. We weight Winston's bowl before and after meal, so we know exactly how much he eats in a day. We just weight actual meal, not treats. Some opt to weight their bird before and after meal. We find weighting food easier. Since you are weighting, you should also keep track of this information.

4. Rule out all other possible cause and talk to your vet about AGAA (if you are based in the US)
Antiganglioside autoantibodies (AGAA) is the most cutting-edge lab test for PDD. This is a blood test, and it is only done at a lab in Ohio. I was told that this test is 90% accurate for PDD. The turnaround time for this test is 2-3 weeks.

5. Consider medicating until lab comes back negative
Again, I'm not a vet, so talk to your vet. PDD can progress very rapidly, so it may be your best interest to start medicating right away. Metacam and Celebrex are common medications for PDD, and they are just anti-inflammatory.

Unfortunately, your bird tested positive. PDD confirmed.
1. Get your care supplies
- Get a bird heater. I use K&H PET PRODUCTS Snuggle -Up Bird Warmer. You need to have the heater available for your bird all year. Your bird will learn to snuggle up when needed.
- Get formula. I use Harrison Recovery formula. Some other parronts use Emeraid, but that requires a vet prescription.
- If you bird is not an ekkie, get PDD pellets. Roudybush has one.
- Get probiotics, use it daily. The goal is to decrease the likelihood of sour crop by not allowing the bad stuff to colonize.
- Get food enzyme, small pinch every meal. Harrison has one.

2. No more chop, it’s now mash
PDD birds cannot digest well, therefore, you must help ease the digestion. No more veggies and fruit presented in a fibrous form. You need to blend and mash everything. At least 30% of mash should be soft baked sweet potato, pumpkin, kabocha or other squashes. I increase the amount of soft baked stuff depending on how Winston feels.
Offering sprouts? Sure! Soak them in diluted apple cider vinegar and grind them down before serving. Offering carrots? Grated only. Apply this rule to everything else.

3. No more treats (seeds and nuts especially), at least not that many
1 - 2 small nuts is okay on the good days, but try to find better treats. I use small cuts of apples or grapes. I also use matoz crackers. You need to be careful about how much carb and sugar you are giving because they encourage yeast overgrowth in crop. Training session will have to be less often and shorter. (Big sigh)

4. Forget the rules when it comes to diet (moderation of course)
Your bird is not a normal bird anymore. You need your bird to eat enough food when it is not well. Consider adding coconut oil, almond butter, sesame powder, and all that yummy yummy fatty stuff to encourage eating. I know some parronts use flex seed oil as well.
The same applies to manner (facepalm). Some days, Winston will only eat if I hold the bowl for him.

5. Do step 4 above with caution. I call this know your bird.
You should encourage eating, but not to the point of over-stuffing the crop. That's gonna be bad. Some days, I purposely feed less but more frequently. Some days, I let Winston enjoy a good solid snack despite of his bad digestion. You will have to balance health and happiness.

6. Vets
Not all avian vets are familiar with treating PDD. Winston is the second case for my vet in her entire career. I presented Winston to her with a log of his symptoms, a sheet of his daily weight and food intake. This showed my vet a clear picture that caused her to look up AGAA testing.
If you take your bird to an emergency vet, bring a copy of the disease article. Most emergency vets are exotic vets. I promise that you and the exotic vet would both appreciate the knowledge.

7. Support group
Where do you think I learned all these stuff from?! Facebook. There's an excellent PDD support group. They are very very insightful. I can even say that Winston would not be alive without them. Of course, you will have to modify the suggestions according to your own situation. For example, I was told to consider pellets, and I decided against because I have an ekkie. Use common sense.

Okay...I think that I covered most of it. I really hope this post will help someone who is experiencing the same disease. Winston actually gained some weight back under our care. It is not fun, but any gain is worth celebrating.

Good luck to us all!

Last edited by shinyuankuo; 10-29-2020 at 11:14 PM.
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Old 10-30-2020, 06:10 AM
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Re: How to live with PDD - specifically for ekkie

What an incredible, thoughtful, informative post. I couldn't agree more about checking the weight of your parrot routinely. Im always talking about the sweeter heater, a radiant heat panel, as found on Amazon. Its so important to support sick birds with warmth. A

I'm so sorry you are going through this. Thank yiu for sharing your journey
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