How quickly does kidney damage happen for birds with poor diets?


New member
Aug 22, 2017
Hello, I am in a very tough spot right now after realizing I made a huge mistake with my green cheek conure. She is very sick and I want to get some advice.

I thought my bird Cosmo was eating a healthy diet, but I guess I was not paying enough attention to what she ate out of what I gave her. She had pellets (Tropicana) available all day in large quantities, and I give her fruits and veggies that I buy frozen and thaw out every day. Well, I don't think I was changing her food out often enough, and I realized a couple weeks ago I had been giving her expired food (expired by about 6months). I live in a humid climate so I am sure that made it even worse. Also, I realized (probably later than I should have) that she really really preferred the corn that came in her veggie mix, and would only nibble at the other stuff. So basically, she was eating a whole lot of corn, very little of her pellets because she didn't like them and they were rotten, and a few nibbles of other fruits and veggies.

About a week and a half ago, she started vomiting (not regurgitating, I know the difference). She did this several times over the course of a day. I was very alarmed and took her to the vet. They ran a fecal and some blood tests, and it looks like there are signs of kidney disfunction, and elevated white blood cells indicating an infection. They can't say for certain yet whether she just has an infection, causing the kidney issues, or if she has permanent kidney damage which led to the infection. She's been given some antibiotics and it will take more tests over several weeks to determine if her kidneys are ok. They said kidney damage is very common for birds with poor diets so I am very worried that it will be the worst case scenario...

I am so distraught, I can't believe I was paying so little attention that I let her practically eat just corn for months... I switched her to Tropicana last year from Zupreme because the people at the pet store recommended it. I think she never really liked it compared to her old food, and that is when her diet got very bad because she just stopped eating it. I have even noticed her feather colors are faded. I switched back to Zupreme (not the colorful ones, the plain ones) after the vet visit because she will at least eat it, and she has been, she loves it. Other than the vomiting and some diarrhea, she is acting herself, and doesn't seem outwardly sick, but I know birds typically hide that they aren't feeling well.

Anyways, I am posting here because I want to know, in your experience, how long does it typically take for a bird to develop irreversible kidney damage, when they are eating a poor diet? If she has been eating poorly for about 9months to a year, is there a good chance I have caught this early enough to reverse the damage? She is about 4 years old if that makes a difference. I know some birds go years on seeds (which is awful), but at what point is the damage permanent?

Another question, if there is kidney damage, will that reduce her lifespan? especially since she is still a young bird? The vet said she may need a special kidney sensitive diet after this, but I won't know how bad things are for a month or 2 and I would like to here some other people's experiences with this...

I will update this post when I know for certain how things are for those interested


Staff member
Super Moderator
Aug 21, 2010
San Diego, California USA, Earth, Milky Way Galaxy
Goffins: Gabby, Abby, Squeaky, Peanut, Popcorn / Citron: Alice / Eclectus: Angel /Timneh Grey: ET / Blue Fronted Amazon: Gonzo /

RIP Gandalf and Big Bird, you are missed.
Welcome, thanks for full disclosure and seeking veterinary care for Cosmo. Trust me, we've all made mistakes with parrot husbandry and appreciate the insight of others. I join you in seeking full recovery with robust health!

May I assume Cosmo's vet is avian certified/specialist and has deep experience with parrots and chronic diseases? You'll want the very best advice, don't be hesitant to seek second opinion if desired. I have not confronted this particular issue but presume age is on Cosmo's side. The precise transition from illness to chronic or irreversible disease is best answered by veterinary professional. You may wish to independently research for peace of mind and check/balance for vet's prescriptions. A few links:

Good luck with treatment, please keep us updated!


New member
May 14, 2012
Nanday mutation
Hi! I’m managing kidney issues with my parrot. He’s on a very small dose of what’s called allopurinol because of his uric acid levels. He just had testing done after 2 months on the meds and his levels are *chef’s kiss* according to the vet. Anyway, my vet told me that as long as kidneys are functioning, they’re very good at bolstering themselves despite damage done to them. They’re amazing organs! Just stand by, follow what the vet directs you to do, and prepare to make some changes.

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