My father's macaw passed away tonight due to egg binding. Did the vets give poor advice?

sokidan

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Jul 15, 2016
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Hello all. As the title states, my father's Blue and Gold Macaw, Mango, passed away today at the age of around 29 years old due to egg binding. I am writing this thread to ask for opinions on whether or not the veterinarians provided the right advice on how to handle Mango's health.

I want to start off by saying this was my father's bird. Mango was very aggressive to anyone other than him, so myself (his daughter), my mother, and brother were unable to physically handle her ourselves without injury.

Around two weeks ago, we noticed Mango was making squeaking noises. We figured it was hormonal. But some days later, when she seemed to be losing her voice, we believed her to be sick. My father took her into the vet on April 14th, where the x-ray revealed Mango had an egg. She had no contact with a male or any other bird. The doctor also told my father that the bloodwork was fine, no problems, and said the bird should pass the egg within 7 days ( I was skeptical about this time frame myself, it seemed like a long time to wait, but I couldn't say for sure.)

So Mango came back home, where she continued to strain to pass the egg. She started to lose appetite and would bleed quite a lot from the vent. My father once again put her in her carrier, and I took her to the vet yesterday (4/21). We were assigned a different doctor this time, who revealed to us that the bloodwork from the previous visit showed high white blood cells, indicating infection and also a strain on her kidney function. I couldn't understand this- shouldn't we have known about this? This was the same bloodwork the other doctor said was normal! I also could not get any answer as to if the amount of blood Mango was passing was normal. I wasn't really given any real prognosis even when I asked.

This doctor decided to keep Mango until the evening and provide her with fluids, medication, and calcium to help pass the egg. And while I plead with the clinic to keep the bird overnight as we were worried, they refused to keep the bird and sent her home with us that night, heavily medicated. I was told to feed her and check the consistency of her stool, but that was it. If it was watery or she did not eat by the next morning or have the egg, to bring her back in. Mango spent the rest of the night eating just a bit, and sleeping with her feathers puffed out. Personally, if it was up to me, I would have taken her to the emergency clinic that night, but Mango was back in her cage, and I could not get her into the carrier myself. When I alerted my father over the phone, he thought she looked fine (I'm very disappointed in him for not being more attentive to her during this terrible time, she was clearly not fine.). When he got home, he decided against taking her to the emergency vet.

Anyways, this morning, Mango looked even worse. I was however able this time to get my dad to take her to the emergency clinic where Mango sadly stopped breathing, and was unable to be revived by CPR.

Long story short is my question: Was the vet right in the advice given? Did they have us wait too long for Mango to pass the egg, should they have kept the bird over night? and was it wrong of them to not tell us sooner about the infection noted in the bloodwork? I tried my best to learn about the condition of egg binding, reading in depth through threads on this website and I feel that being told to wait 7 days for it to pass seemed too long.... (I want to stress that I am not intending to blame the vet or accuse them of malpractice, but I am not a bird expert and want to make sure they provided us with the proper information and care)

I am so sorry for the long post. I know users here are very knowledgeable about parrots, and thought I would come here for input on how this happened. While Mango wasn't my bird, and she sure hated anyone but my dad with a passion, it still makes me extremely sad to see how she suffered in the end. Mango did not deserve this. Any insight on this situation will be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much in advance.
 
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Birdman666

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The vet was obviously wrong, because the bird died, and they had several opportunities to catch this. My Sweepea experienced egg binding about half a decade ago. I took her to the vet when I noticed she was having trouble passing the egg, and when she still hadn't passed it within a day or two, the vet did minor surgery to remove the egg. Was this an avian certified vet? Or a dog and cat guy? A lot of times, the dog and cat guys simply do not have enough experience with birds to know when to be super concerned. I've been around them long enough to say... BS we are not risking this. Do the surgery. This is the type of thing you don't want to wait too long on, because egg removal isn't difficult surgery, and egg binding is frequently fatal. To me, it's a no-brainer. But I'm not a vet. Sorry for your loss.
 
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sokidan

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The vet was obviously wrong, because the bird died, and they had several opportunities to catch this. My Sweepea experienced egg binding about half a decade ago. I took her to the vet when I noticed she was having trouble passing the egg, and when she still hadn't passed it within a day or two, the vet did minor surgery to remove the egg. Was this an avian certified vet? Or a dog and cat guy? A lot of times, the dog and cat guys simply do not have enough experience with birds to know when to be super concerned. I've been around them long enough to say... BS we are not risking this. Do the surgery. This is the type of thing you don't want to wait too long on, because egg removal isn't difficult surgery, and egg binding is frequently fatal. To me, it's a no-brainer. But I'm not a vet. Sorry for your loss.
Thank you for your response and for sharing your bird's experience with egg binding, Birdman, I appreciate it. It has me think that perhaps surgery could have been performed sooner. It just seemed like such a long time to wait, and I could not find any information online about fully formed eggs requiring up to seven days to lay. We went to a vet that sees a variety of domestic and exotic animals. Not being an expert on birds ourselves, we really wanted to believe the vets, and I wouldn't want to presume wrong doing. Needless to say this has been a sad experience. Thank you so much again for your kind words and help!
 
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sokidan

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Also, I would like to share this for thoughts. Purely for my own learning purposes, and I apologize if this image is too graphic. I'm not sure if it is against the rules to post it and I am sorry in advance if I am wrong to share.

This is a photo of one of the perches in the macaw's cage. She passed a lot of blood onto it, and a similar amount on her carrying crate which was previously placed in the cage and wiped up (so I do not have a picture).

Was this a large amount of blood for a macaw to lose? When I showed this image to the vet, they gave me no answer. I asked a few times as well. I felt like this was pretty substantial, but never seeing anything like this before with a bird, I do not know.
 

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Teddscau

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She was bleeding due to egg binding? This is NOT normal when laying eggs. If it’s their first time laying an egg, a very tiny amount of blood (smeared onto the egg) is normal, but that’s a lot of blood. Laying an egg is nothing like a mammal giving birth. When an egg comes out of a bird, it usually launches right out. There aren’t a bunch of fluids associated with it.

Furthermore, it’s obvious she was is severe medical distress, and it was very much an emergency. If she was straining as you described, and worse, bleeding, they should have immediately performed surgery on her, IMO. The fact that she had signs of infection as well…this was straight up medical malpractice.

When my girl, Lara, had egg binding, I brought her in first thing the next day. The vet immediately took her in to try to help get the egg out. He attempted to gently help the egg out by inserting a lubricated cotton swab into her vent to lubricate her cloaca and the egg, as well as to stretch her cloaca. However, she had an abnormally small opening (birth defect), so he had to perform an episiotomy.

Egg binding is very much a life threatening medical situation, and a wait and see approach shouldn’t be taken. It’s one of the leading causes of death in female birds.

I‘m not blaming you for what happened, as you should have been able to trust someone who has a medical license. Even if the vet had been right to wait and that she still might be able to pass the egg on her own (which they weren’t right about), poor Mango would have been in pain and the vet should have performed surgery even if it was just to relieve the pain she was experiencing. I’m very sorry that Mango had to go through all that, and my thoughts are with your family. I would definitely bring up your concerns with…I don’t know, whoever runs the vet clinic? Or the veterinary college? Basically a bunch of people screwed up over a medical condition that they acted indifferently toward. If you go to a vet with a bird who’s believed to be experiencing egg binding, they should immediately jump into action, NOT just send the poor girl home with an egg still stuck inside her after giving her some meds.
 
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sokidan

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She was bleeding due to egg binding? This is NOT normal when laying eggs. If it’s their first time laying an egg, a very tiny amount of blood (smeared onto the egg) is normal, but that’s a lot of blood. Laying an egg is nothing like a mammal giving birth. When an egg comes out of a bird, it usually launches right out. There aren’t a bunch of fluids associated with it.

Furthermore, it’s obvious she was is severe medical distress, and it was very much an emergency. If she was straining as you described, and worse, bleeding, they should have immediately performed surgery on her, IMO. The fact that she had signs of infection as well…this was straight up medical malpractice.

When my girl, Lara, had egg binding, I brought her in first thing the next day. The vet immediately took her in to try to help get the egg out. He attempted to gently help the egg out by inserting a lubricated cotton swab into her vent to lubricate her cloaca and the egg, as well as to stretch her cloaca. However, she had an abnormally small opening (birth defect), so he had to perform an episiotomy.

Egg binding is very much a life threatening medical situation, and a wait and see approach shouldn’t be taken. It’s one of the leading causes of death in female birds.

I‘m not blaming you for what happened, as you should have been able to trust someone who has a medical license. Even if the vet had been right to wait and that she still might be able to pass the egg on her own (which they weren’t right about), poor Mango would have been in pain and the vet should have performed surgery even if it was just to relieve the pain she was experiencing. I’m very sorry that Mango had to go through all that, and my thoughts are with your family. I would definitely bring up your concerns with…I don’t know, whoever runs the vet clinic? Or the veterinary college? Basically a bunch of people screwed up over a medical condition that they acted indifferently toward. If you go to a vet with a bird who’s believed to be experiencing egg binding, they should immediately jump into action, NOT just send the poor girl home with an egg still stuck inside her after giving her some meds.
Thank you so much for your response and insight, as well as not placing the blame on me. I appreciate your kindness and understanding!

What you've written confirms to me what I had been thinking- it was too much blood. When we learned Mango had an egg inside her, and when she began to pass blood, I looked for an answer online. I could find a lot of information about other birds being egg bound, especially smaller species like budgies, and that losing a little blood could be deadly for them. Just judging by the difference in size, I felt like this amount of blood loss seemed very significant for a macaw. Reading what you've wrote me makes me all the more frustrated that the vets would not answer my questions when I showed them the picture.

I am going to talk with my family about this, and share the knowledge and your Lana's experience with them. I regretfully am feeling that this vet office did not do all they could, and provided us with improper care. We will likely contact the vet office about this. As for sending Mango home, that was what I really could not believe. We pleaded and offered to pay them to keep Mango, at least overnight, but they refused. I hate to think it, as everyone there was at the very least quite friendly, but I wonder if they knew the severity of Mango's condition, but did not want a dead bird on their hands. Perhaps I will never know.

These birds can live so many years, I feel that it is such a shame that Mango had to pass away at 29 from something that could have been prevented with proper advice and care. She could have had many years ahead of her.

Anyways, once again, I thank you very much for taking the time to reply with your thoughts on this matter. It means a lot and is greatly appreciated. All the best to you!
 

SailBoat

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Specific determination of whether the 'vet' was doing the correct thing at the correct time is always difficult from afar. That said, as stated above. Dog and Cat vets rarely have the depth of experience with Avians and why they should be avoided.

As stated above; Time Lines are very important with the care of Parrots and in this case, they clearly where to late /ong. The amount of dyed blood is difficult to determine volume from, but is does clearly define that your Mac was bleeding activity and likely also within her body. The combination is deadly.

Very Sorry for your families lass!!
 

Laurasea

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I'm sorry for your loss.

If this blood was from a cut toe or blood feather, no its not enough to bleed out.

But because the blood was coming from inside the bird due to egg binding, it can be from something ruptured...minor or serious. But egg binding is alway an emergency ...I certainly wouldn't want to see any blood.

In cases were veterinarian practices don't have over night staff, and because parrots are so sensitive they do sometimes send them home at night.
 

Scott

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My deepest condolences for the passing of Mango. I hope your narrative was cathartic, please know it may save future birds as our archived threads fully searchable online.

Avian vet quality varies by region and specialty. As others suggested, avian certified (or equivalent) crucial particularly with internal anatomy issues. I have no doubt you and your father dearly loved Mango and placed reasonable trust in professionals. Given a do-over many of us would choose different actions. I hope Mango's bright memories brings solace to you and family while grieving an unfortunate loss
 

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