Weakness in legs

Boubou3932

New member
Jan 4, 2024
4
13
Parrots
Parrotlet
Hello everyone,

I just returned from the vet with my 9-year-old parrotlet, who was experiencing leg weakness and difficulty perching last night. The vet kept him in an incubator overnight, administered antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, but unfortunately, his condition hasn’t improved yet. The vet advised monitoring him at home, continuing his medication, and bringing him back if his condition worsens. Although he’s eating and drinking normally, he still can’t perch properly.

Until yesterday, his legs were perfectly fine. However, he exhibited odd sleeping behavior last week by leaning forward instead of tucking his beak in. We took him to the vet then, but after a feces test and a full body exam, they didn’t find any issues. Suddenly, last night, he began losing grip on his feet. Currently, I’m hand feeding him due to his inability to perch, and I’m concerned about the next steps. The vet couldn’t pinpoint the problem but suggested it might be an abdominal disease pressing on his nerves, causing leg weakness.

I’m seeking advice or experiences from anyone who might have dealt with a similar situation. I’m running out of ideas and want to do everything possible to ensure his survival if there’s a chance. Any insights would be greatly appreciated!!!
 

LaManuka

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Hello everyone,

I just returned from the vet with my 9-year-old parrotlet, who was experiencing leg weakness and difficulty perching last night. The vet kept him in an incubator overnight, administered antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, but unfortunately, his condition hasn’t improved yet. The vet advised monitoring him at home, continuing his medication, and bringing him back if his condition worsens. Although he’s eating and drinking normally, he still can’t perch properly.

Until yesterday, his legs were perfectly fine. However, he exhibited odd sleeping behavior last week by leaning forward instead of tucking his beak in. We took him to the vet then, but after a feces test and a full body exam, they didn’t find any issues. Suddenly, last night, he began losing grip on his feet. Currently, I’m hand feeding him due to his inability to perch, and I’m concerned about the next steps. The vet couldn’t pinpoint the problem but suggested it might be an abdominal disease pressing on his nerves, causing leg weakness.

I’m seeking advice or experiences from anyone who might have dealt with a similar situation. I’m running out of ideas and want to do everything possible to ensure his survival if there’s a chance. Any insights would be greatly appreciated!!!
Welcome to the forums @Boubou3932, though I'm sorry for the circumstances that brought you here. I couldn't see in your post any mention of your vet having performed any blood tests? I am most certainly not a vet, but I would think it likely there may be some kind of abdominal issue at play, perhaps involving the liver, kidneys or pancreas and a blood test, while not always 100% conclusive, is often most revealing in these cases. And I'm just wondering if your vet is an avian specialist too. If he's not, the link below may help you find one, or you may even want to get a second opinion ...


Perhaps another of our members will be able to help you better than me, so I hope they see your post. And I wish you all the very best of luck with your little one 🙏
 
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Boubou3932

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Jan 4, 2024
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Parrotlet
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Welcome to the forums @Boubou3932, though I'm sorry for the circumstances that brought you here. I couldn't see in your post any mention of your vet having performed any blood tests? I am most certainly not a vet, but I would think it likely there may be some kind of abdominal issue at play, perhaps involving the liver, kidneys or pancreas and a blood test, while not always 100% conclusive, is often most revealing in these cases. And I'm just wondering if your vet is an avian specialist too. If he's not, the link below may help you find one, or you may even want to get a second opinion ...


Perhaps another of our members will be able to help you better than me, so I hope they see your post. And I wish you all the very best of luck with your little one 🙏
Thanks for your response. Your insights align closely with what I've been finding online and hearing from others. The vet I visited was an emergency hospital, not specialized in avian care. They suggested the possibility of cancer or an abdominal issue affecting his leg nerves. Unfortunately, the medications haven't shown improvement, and he's reliant on hand feeding, unable to walk, which is truly distressing. I was cautioned that a blood test could be fatal for these tiny birds. If it is one of the conditions you mentioned, do you happen to know the approach or procedures typically performed in such cases?
 

LaManuka

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Thanks for your response. Your insights align closely with what I've been finding online and hearing from others. The vet I visited was an emergency hospital, not specialized in avian care. They suggested the possibility of cancer or an abdominal issue affecting his leg nerves. Unfortunately, the medications haven't shown improvement, and he's reliant on hand feeding, unable to walk, which is truly distressing. I was cautioned that a blood test could be fatal for these tiny birds. If it is one of the conditions you mentioned, do you happen to know the approach or procedures typically performed in such cases?

Unfortunately no medical procedure is without risk in birds, as you say. Even with an experienced avian vet things can sometimes go wrong, sadly I've had it happen to me but only once or twice in the almost 30 years I've been seeing my guy, and if the vet you saw was not a specialist that may be why they were a little more reluctant to carry out a more invasive procedure. But a blood test can help to pinpoint which organ it is that may be malfunctioning if indeed that is the issue, and treatment tailored specifically to address that problem. As you mention, the other possibility is a cancerous tumour of some sort - I once had a budgie called Pete about 20 years ago who developed testicular cancer and i thought for sure he was a goner pretty much straight away. But we embarked on a course of "chemo" for him which consisted of quarterly injections of i believe it was Lupron (forgive me, it was an AWFULLY long time ago!!), plus daily Metacam to help manage any pain, and Pete lived a very good quality of life for probably another year or more after diagnosis until he finally told me that he had had enough. I'm not personally familiar with what ongoing treatments may be involved if it turns out your little one has issues with any organ in particular but perhaps someone else here might be. But i do think it's worth your contacting an avian specialist for their professional opinion, and then you'll be in a much better place to make decisions as to further treatment options :)
 
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Boubou3932

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Parrotlet
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Unfortunately no medical procedure is without risk in birds, as you say. Even with an experienced avian vet things can sometimes go wrong, sadly I've had it happen to me but only once or twice in the almost 30 years I've been seeing my guy, and if the vet you saw was not a specialist that may be why they were a little more reluctant to carry out a more invasive procedure. But a blood test can help to pinpoint which organ it is that may be malfunctioning if indeed that is the issue, and treatment tailored specifically to address that problem. As you mention, the other possibility is a cancerous tumour of some sort - I once had a budgie called Pete about 20 years ago who developed testicular cancer and i thought for sure he was a goner pretty much straight away. But we embarked on a course of "chemo" for him which consisted of quarterly injections of i believe it was Lupron (forgive me, it was an AWFULLY long time ago!!), plus daily Metacam to help manage any pain, and Pete lived a very good quality of life for probably another year or more after diagnosis until he finally told me that he had had enough. I'm not personally familiar with what ongoing treatments may be involved if it turns out your little one has issues with any organ in particular but perhaps someone else here might be. But i do think it's worth your contacting an avian specialist for their professional opinion, and then you'll be in a much better place to make decisions as to further treatment options :)


Yesterday, I sought a second opinion from a vet regarding Romeo's condition. They conducted an X-ray, revealing a mass. The vet couldn't confirm if it was cancerous but suggested limited options unless we considered surgery. It was just as you were saying, that it’s difficult and not certain to cure the problem. So they referred us to specialists in another city as they're the only ones equipped for this surgery, but still might not do it. I'm at a loss for words… I've already invested a significant amount seeking answers, and now we know about this mass pressing on his leg nerves, preventing him from walking.

I'm just uncertain about the feasibility of visiting the other city's surgeon, evaluating Romeo, and arranging surgery which is not certain. He's otherwise healthy—eating, drinking, and grooming normally. His feces are regular; the only issue is the mass. The vet, while experienced with birds but not specialized, mentioned that chances of him walking again are very slim. Surgery is an option but not for sure, and due to Romeo's size, the surgeon might not guarantee a successful procedure, and there are numerous risks involved because of his small stature.

The X rays show an expansion in Romeo's stomach, not the usual shape of a healthy bird's stomach. I'm torn because, apart from his inability to walk, as I said, he's healthy. However, I can tell it deeply bothers him that he can't engage in normal activities. He appears like his usual self otherwise, doing regular things. Is it truly fair to consider euthanasia when his sole struggle is walking? Or should I allow him to continue enduring this struggle until he reaches a breaking point? On the other hand, should I opt for surgery, knowing it might not guarantee success, and the chances of him ever walking again or surviving the procedure are very slim?

I don't want to regret any decision because I feel extremely bad putting him out when he looks so healthy otherwise. Because I do see the struggle in his eyes, and how he uses his beak to hang on to things. Such a tough spot… I’m also really sorry to hear about your past experiences, can’t imagine what they were like.
 

4 way borbs

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Sep 26, 2023
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Smokey | Athracite parakeet
Sky | cobalt, albino, yellow parakeet
Andy | Green texas clearwater
does his legs look anyway different then they used to, i am no vet at all but that maybe could be a problem.
 
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Boubou3932

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Jan 4, 2024
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Parrotlet
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does his legs look anyway different then they used to, i am no vet at all but that maybe could be a problem.
For sure. He can’t walk at all, he can move his toes, but barely. Not enough for him to walk or grip anything
 

4 way borbs

Well-known member
Sep 26, 2023
354
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441
Waukee Iowa USA
Parrots
Smokey | Athracite parakeet
Sky | cobalt, albino, yellow parakeet
Andy | Green texas clearwater
For sure. He can’t walk at all, he can move his toes, but barely. Not enough for him to walk or grip anything
parrotlets legs are tan, is it red or blueish, If it's infected it can be yellow, purple can be due to bad circlulation
 

LaManuka

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Aug 29, 2018
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Yesterday, I sought a second opinion from a vet regarding Romeo's condition. They conducted an X-ray, revealing a mass. The vet couldn't confirm if it was cancerous but suggested limited options unless we considered surgery. It was just as you were saying, that it’s difficult and not certain to cure the problem. So they referred us to specialists in another city as they're the only ones equipped for this surgery, but still might not do it. I'm at a loss for words… I've already invested a significant amount seeking answers, and now we know about this mass pressing on his leg nerves, preventing him from walking.

I'm just uncertain about the feasibility of visiting the other city's surgeon, evaluating Romeo, and arranging surgery which is not certain. He's otherwise healthy—eating, drinking, and grooming normally. His feces are regular; the only issue is the mass. The vet, while experienced with birds but not specialized, mentioned that chances of him walking again are very slim. Surgery is an option but not for sure, and due to Romeo's size, the surgeon might not guarantee a successful procedure, and there are numerous risks involved because of his small stature.

The X rays show an expansion in Romeo's stomach, not the usual shape of a healthy bird's stomach. I'm torn because, apart from his inability to walk, as I said, he's healthy. However, I can tell it deeply bothers him that he can't engage in normal activities. He appears like his usual self otherwise, doing regular things. Is it truly fair to consider euthanasia when his sole struggle is walking? Or should I allow him to continue enduring this struggle until he reaches a breaking point? On the other hand, should I opt for surgery, knowing it might not guarantee success, and the chances of him ever walking again or surviving the procedure are very slim?

I don't want to regret any decision because I feel extremely bad putting him out when he looks so healthy otherwise. Because I do see the struggle in his eyes, and how he uses his beak to hang on to things. Such a tough spot… I’m also really sorry to hear about your past experiences, can’t imagine what they were like.

I am truly sorry for your and Romeo's situation - I have been in a similar "damned if i do and damned if i don't" position when it came to the health of one of mine too and completely understand how conflicted you feel. X-rays in and of themselves are not always 100% conclusive either - why? Because in such tiny birds a sufficiently large "mass" will push all of the other organs out of their natural positions, and in a little bird like a parrotlet it can result in even the most experienced vet making the wrong call as to which organ it is that may be involved, and it sometimes only becomes apparent once the bird is opened up on the operating table - it has happened to me. It could even be an enlarged liver, that's fairly common too. Perhaps you could have Romeo examined by that avian vet who would, I assume, have blood tests done before embarking on any type of surgery. Maybe even raise the possibility of it being his liver, I am told milk thistle is good for the liver and it is one organ that is capable of repairing itself. They may also give you some Metacam to manage any possible pain he may be in while you assess which way to go next.

We can only be guided by our hearts when it comes to the well-being of these precious souls. Nobody knows your Romeo better than you do, and he will tell you if it gets to a stage when he's had enough - in my case my budgie Pete started to pluck his feathers from his abdomen and his vet agreed that it was time.

I'm so sorry you are going through this and I wish I could give you more concrete advice as to which way to go. Sometimes no matter how much we love them or what we do for them it goes wrong, and I'm crying as I write this because I've been there - refer the purple crowned lorikeet named Lilly who is and always will be my avatar. You have my every sympathy for what you are going through and I truly wish you all the very best with Romeo 🙏🙏🙏
 
Last edited:

JenA

Member
May 26, 2022
18
86
Parrots
3 conures
Hello everyone,

I just returned from the vet with my 9-year-old parrotlet, who was experiencing leg weakness and difficulty perching last night. The vet kept him in an incubator overnight, administered antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, but unfortunately, his condition hasn’t improved yet. The vet advised monitoring him at home, continuing his medication, and bringing him back if his condition worsens. Although he’s eating and drinking normally, he still can’t perch properly.

Until yesterday, his legs were perfectly fine. However, he exhibited odd sleeping behavior last week by leaning forward instead of tucking his beak in. We took him to the vet then, but after a feces test and a full body exam, they didn’t find any issues. Suddenly, last night, he began losing grip on his feet. Currently, I’m hand feeding him due to his inability to perch, and I’m concerned about the next steps. The vet couldn’t pinpoint the problem but suggested it might be an abdominal disease pressing on his nerves, causing leg weakness.

I’m seeking advice or experiences from anyone who might have dealt with a similar situation. I’m running out of ideas and want to do everything possible to ensure his survival if there’s a chance. Any insights would be greatly appreciated!!!
I'm sorry you are experiencing this with your bird. We just lost our pineapple conure 2 weeks ago, Christmas day. For two weeks prior to that, she started with weakness in her legs, mainly her left side. Then, she could not walk or perch, feed herself, and she grew listless and sickly. We had to hand-feed her. I have no idea what happened to her. She was fine one day, then this the next. She went downhill fast, we even visited her vet and was put on anti-inflammatory medicine, and nothing helped. We found her in her cage, still warm, she must have just passed shortly before we found her Christmas morning. I am so devastated and confused. We miss her so much. Just keep a close eye on your baby. I hope she recovers. One thing that didn't help was one of our other conures bit her toe and she lost a considerable amount of blood. She passed the next day.
 

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