Ebony is a lovely cheeky African Grey Parrot who came in to see vet Kate as she was quite unwell, sitting at the bottom of her cage and not eating. This was most unlike Ebony who is usually quite the centre of attention at home and her owner was understandably concerned.
Birds have to be really quite sick before they start showing external signs. Kate was very worried that this was something serious, so decided to admit Ebony for some tests. There were a number of things which weren't quite right… amongst other things, Ebony had plucked her feathers for the whole time that she had been with her owners. This is not always behavioral. Often there is a underlying medical cause for this symptom and so we were interested to find out what the tests would show.
Kate performed endoscopy on Ebony; that is she gave her an anaesthetic and put a little camera into her abdomen to examine all the internal structures. There were a couple of changes which Kate wasn't expecting, her liver, air sacs, spleen and lungs did not look normal, and along with blood tests and laboratory faecal work, Kate diagnosed an acute bacterial infection. This was treatable but much complicated by Ebony’s present diet.
There are 32 essential nutrients that a bird must obtain from its diet and eating sunflower seeds as the basis of a diet is like us eating 4 Mars bars a day and nothing else! The blood tests showed a low calcium and Ebony was also showing external signs of vitamin A deficiency. There were undeniably more problems just waiting around the corner, so we had to get the diet sorted out... and fast!
Now this is where Ebony’s owner started to get very worried! Parrot’s diets are notoriously difficult to change. They are highly suspicious of anything new and so to ask them to try a new food is a big thing. With help from nurse Jo, Ebony’s owner started her on a new diet. Jo had some tricks up her sleeve and Ebony’s mum tried really hard at home. To everyone’s delight, in no time she absolutely loved it. In fact, Ebony was brought back to the surgery for a lump on the front of her neck which turned out to be where Ebony was eating SO MUCH of the special food that it was filling her crop right up and it looked all lumpy!!
Ebony’s owner is thrilled with the results. Two of her friends have addressed their birds diets too and the best news of all? Ebony has stopped pulling her feathers out!
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