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Serious Health Issues


Guest Budgie Care Publications

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Guest Budgie Care Publications

In response to an email I received about the health of a person's budgies I am providing this limited extract of my reply for the benefit of anyone coming across similar problem(s) to the ones described below.

 

The following are what I consider to be actions necessary to alleviate the problems but if any reader sees symptoms such as what follows below, any responsible and caring owner should take their budgie to a bird veterinarian immediately.

 

The conditions described to me were as follows:

All birds were constantly biting their feet

Tail feathers were turning darker and dropping

Vents were soiled due to constipation

Beaks were "peeling"

Birds were "coughing & sneezing"

 

These birds were severely malnourished to say the least.

 

Below is an abbreviated extract of my reply.

 

Not only do they need to be fed top quality budgie seed mixture (contains a variety of essential seeds and not just one type), but need to be fed greens which should be an essential part of their diet.

 

As these birds appeared to be totally lacking any type of greens in their diet, I suggested apple, carrot, spinach and corn to name a few.

 

To try to fix the biting of the feet (maybe due to dryness) and the soiled vent one could for a LIMITED time apply a dose of "Codliver & Wheatgerm" oil.

This comes already mixed

Only a tiny drop is needed to be put in the seed bowl and then mixed up well.

The seeds will appear a little glossed due to the oil.

 

For beaks to be "peeling" it is obvious that the birds are lacking calcium. One should get cuttlefish bone from the pet shop.

Readers should be aware that if you find this washed up on the beach don't just put it in the cage. As a minimum it would need to be scraped clean, washed thoroughly in fresh water and left out in the sun for a week to dry. Additionally, most pet shops sell calcium syrup that can be added to the birds water.

 

Also to help them along, other matters suggested were:

Vitamin drops to be added to the birds water for 2 - 3 days once a month for the next 6 months

Mineral Block to be put in the cage

Never leave the birds in the hot sun unprotected or in a draft or near an air conditioning outlet (which is what I suspect is the cause of the "coughing & Sneezing").

Fresh water should always be provided in a small bowl for drinking and on hot days a small dish for bathing or just wetting their feathers if they wish to do so.

 

In all cases when using drops in the water read the instructions carefully and don't mix medications.

Some vitamin bottles for example require refrigeration once opened and specifically state that the medication must not be used in metal containers.

 

The email itself went into far more detail but I think anyone reading this will grasp the severity of the situation.

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Good reply, it's sad to think people actually only give their birds home brand seeds. :fear I hope they take all your advice. :D

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What an important, yet overlooked health concern. Could it be pinned, do you think? Or added to the frequently asked questions?

 

Budgie Care, I know some people make their own mixes, is their some ideal mix, or cerain percentages of certain seeds necesary for a healthy bird

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Thank you for this information. I did not know that one reason for a budgie's beak to peel was calcium deficiency.

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I've been working on a sort of "Fresh Foods Report Card" for the forums so this is a subject fresh on my mind! :( Here are some thoughts and questions:

 

Apple and corn are pretty much empty calories. But spinach and carrot are great suggestions.

 

Calcium can also be given through foods such as kale, broccoli, lentils, chick peas, etc.

 

A few questions though: What do you think we should look for in a quality seed mix? What makes it stand out from lesser quality mixes?

 

Also, you say to add vitamins to water but which vitamins? I've read that vitamin A and calcium as well as vitamin D3 are generally what a parrot would lack. Also, they need a good source of protein. All of these can be given to a bird through proper nutrition rather than adding doses to the water (which can sometimes cause a bird to refuse to drink, not to mention there's no guarantee that the bird will be getting a significant amount of the vitamins).

 

Vitamin D3 is created through exposure to sun but obviously this is a hard thing to do, especially in the winter. However, a pelleted diet does include vitamin D3 and is also a great source of protein.

 

Rather than "medicating" the bird, wouldn't it be better to just improve its diet? It's a lot more natural than adding vitamins to the water.

 

And I definitely agree that any signs of these symptoms are cause to take your bird to the vet rather than assuming it's malnutrition. Time is of the essence when a bird begins to look down. Far too many people try to "cure" their bird at home to avoid having to spend money at the vet.

 

Also, I've read that peeling of the beak is normal and I've seen among many very healthy parrots on a great diet. I've always heard that the beak goes through a bit of a "molt" as well.

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Guest pixie25
Vitamin D3 is created through exposure to sun but obviously this is a hard thing to do, especially in the winter. However, a pelleted diet does include vitamin D3 and is also a great source of protein.

 

i finally set up caspers avian lamp yesterday. i think that is also meant to help produce this vitamin. :D very handy. i leave it on for a few hours a day. but it sure is bright! it makes my eyes go funny i had to put my sunglasses on indoors

:(

Edited by pixie25
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(Laughing out loud)! I can imagine. :(

 

That's a good point too, full spectrum lighting does help in vitamin D3 production.

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Guest Budgie Care Publications
What an important, yet overlooked health concern. Could it be pinned, do you think? Or added to the frequently asked questions?

 

Budgie Care, I know some people make their own mixes, is their some ideal mix, or cerain percentages of certain seeds necesary for a healthy bird

 

Lin,

I think budgie seed mixture you buy from the pet shop contains the following seeds.

Plain Canary

French White Millet

Jap Millet

Panicum Millet

Red Millet

Plus a small portion of hulled oats (not much as the bird will put on too much weight).

 

Note: I believe for high protein & energy one would add extra plain canary seed but I wouldn't tamper with the combination unless you're sure what you're doing.

 

Eterri, in response to some of your questions, I can only say that the birds in question all had the combination of symptoms mentioned in my original post so there was no doubt in my mind that they were neglected/malnourished. Not being a vet, but with a general knowledge of bird care, I tried to give the best advice I could and that included diet and medication.

 

Without going into too much detail, the individual involved came from a country where vet care for birds is not paramount. He apparently took the birds to a couple of vets who after billing him advised words to the effect "not to worry everything will be okay" and left it at that. He certainly didn't have access to quality avain vet care that we take for granted in the West.

 

The fruit and vegetables listed were only a sample of what could be given.

 

As far as vitamins are concerned, I meant a general vitamin dosage that one could obtain from a quality pet store in Australia but I have no idea how he is going to get along in his country.

I get the feeling he does care about his birds but doesn't exactly know how to care for them and has no one he can get quality advice from.

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I think he would be better off providing them their nutrition through various fruits and vegetables, depending on which are available. Vitamins added in the water will do nothing if the birds don't drink the water or get the proper dosage (which is near impossible to do when adding it into the water or even food).

 

I don't usually trust pet store products in general. There are faaar too many of them that do more harm than good and I would only go that route if there is no other way. But the very best vitamins he can offer his birds are those found in raw, fresh foods. He'll be able to get a variety of nutrients into his birds this way.

 

There are other illnesses that produce the same symptoms as what was described. Even something going wrong in the digestive system would produce those symptoms as it would be an underlying cause for malnutrition. Hopefully that's not the case and he can get everything taken care of by simply offering his birds a more varied diet.

 

If an owner's budgies present signs of malnutrition (and this is confirmed by the vet) then the best course of action is to change the diet rather than try and "medicate" the bird so to speak. A budgie on a diet that offers a variety of the right fruits, veggies, sprouts and legumes isn't going to have a problem with manutrition unless there is something else going on to cause it.

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Guest Budgie Care Publications

I think we are going around in circles.

 

The individual was provided with a full variety of fruit & vegetables that should be used.

 

The vitamin suggestion was an added tonic that wouldn't go astray in light of the extremely poor condition all his birds were displaying.

 

The individual did take his birds to two bird veterinarians.

However, you can see that by their response to the symptoms the birds were displaying, the Vets' (I don't know from what school they graduated) opinion were less than useless.

 

Somehow or other he found me and the opinion I gave him was the best all round that I could provide without seeing the birds for myself.

 

As I said, the individual was not from a western country but from a country where professional veterinarian care for pet birds is virtually non existent.

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Er... I never said that he should get them to an avian vet. I completely understand that he is unable to do so. :D

 

I was just worried about him adding vitamins to the birds' water as the dosage can't be exact and this can sometimes cause them not to drink it. I'm glad you gave him a good list of fruits and veggies, that's what I was unaware of as you didn't mention which vitamins you were advising him to use, I wasn't sure if you had elaborated on the proper fresh foods and what types of vitamins they provide vs. the types that provide very little nutrition.

 

Hope his birds recover okay. Do you think you'll be able to update us?

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I'll give an update if he replies sometime down the track.

 

In relation to the vitamin drops, in the email I went so far as to suggest:

That he buys a small measuring cup from the pharmacist.

To always read the directions carefully before administering any type of medication.

It it says use 5 drops per 30 ml. of water or 10 drops per 20 ml. then to measure it out exactly and not just guess.

 

However, from how it was described to me, I am not optimistic that these birds will ever be 100% okay.

They need ongoing observation and professional care and I can't see this happening.

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I hope that the birds manage to recover. Sounds like it's something that has been going on for a long time though.

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I believe that the course of vitimins being added to the water would be a quick hit that the birds would probibly require. A change in diet would certainly be a good perminate sollution.

 

One problem a lot of uneducated owners have (note I didn't say uncaring, that is different) is that when they buy off the shelf bird seed 90% on the ime it says "a complete diet" which is incorrect.

 

I think your advice was most appreciate. Thank you Budgie Care Publications for sharing it.

Edited by daz
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That's not necessarily true, Daz but I think it's time for me to just hold my tongue now. :D I'm sending good thoughts to the budgies involved and hoping all will go well. :beer:

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That's not necessarily true, Daz but I think it's time for me to just hold my tongue now. :D I'm sending good thoughts to the budgies involved and hoping all will go well. :beer:

:D :beer:

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Interesting information.

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Everybody says that budgies should not have a seed diet only. What do you do when your budgies will not eat fruit and veg. When I had SB he was no trouble he would eat anything in sight, but the two I have now will not touch fruit and veg at the moment they will only eat lettuce.

 

I have today bought some Vitakraft bird green complete with sprouting pot which I am going to try on them.

 

I looked at vitamins but there is so many I didn't know what to go for. Again what do you do if the budgies will not touch their water because they know when there is something in it.

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With most budgies, getting them to eat the right foods is a fairly long process. While some will dive right in, most need some encouragement. They spend their lives eating seed so don't even recognize leafy greens or anything non-seed as an actual food.

 

I looked at vitamins but there is so many I didn't know what to go for.

This is one reason why I wouldn't suggest using vitamins improve a bird's diet. Not only is it hard to know what to give but you never know if they're actually getting all they need if you put it in the water. And there is, as you mentioned, the chance of them not drinking their water and dehydrating.

 

You're doing great in offering sprouts, don't give up! I'm not sure what methods you've tried so far but here are some ideas that might help:

  • Use their foraging instinct to your advantage.
    If your birds are tame and can safely be allowed out of the cage, chop of veggies on a favorite spot such as a newspaper-covered table or a playgym. Allow the birds to "find" their food so that they feel they're foraging. This is how I converted some of my birds to pellets.
  • Use baby food!
    Buy cans of baby food (vegetable types like carrots or green beans) and mix it with their seeds. This is a pretty good way to get some nutrition into them when they're still refusing to eat fresh foods. The ingredients in baby food are usually just a vegetable and water. My birds really like this.
  • Chop the fresh food up into tiny bits
    If you chop up the food into little bits, they may be more likely to pick at it. Put it into different food cups if you have a large cage and their foraging instinct might lead them to the new food dishes and cause them to nibble at what's inside.
  • Hang leafy greens from the top of the cage near a favorite spot.
    This is probably what you've already tried but if you keep persisting, it usually works eventually.
  • Make birdie bread!
    Here's a recipe that I found:
     
    2 6 oz jars baby food sweet potatoes
    2 jars baby food tropical fruit
    1-1 1/2 cups pellets or 4 tbss hand feeding formula
    3 eggs and eggshells (crushed)
    I recycle pellets left in our birds' bowls (We use uncolored pellets). Mix eggs and baby food. Use a little in a small blender/processor to crush the egg shells (calcium source). Mix in remaining ingredients. Put in paper cupcakes or muffin tins- 4 tsps each. Microwave 1-2 mins until firm. Or bake in toaster oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes till firm. Makes 12 servings. Serve warm, but not too hot.[/i]

Keep persisting and they will eventually start eating a healthier diet. :) Also, check into some of the other healthy foods that you can buy such as beak appetit or wheatgrass.

 

That was from: http://www.birdsnways.com/birds/rbreads.htm

There are lots more on the site that you might want to check out. Some call for a cornbread mix that you probably don't get there (Jiffy) but others don't so have a look.

 

Try to offer the healthier veggies such as kale, carrot, spinach, broccoli as well as legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, and beans.

Edited by eterri
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Terri, your link didn't work.

I love all that information. I am still trying to convert my aviary birds - they will eat weeds but nothing else. Great ideas!

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Guest Budgie Care Publications
Everybody says that budgies should not have a seed diet only. What do you do when your budgies will not eat fruit and veg. When I had SB he was no trouble he would eat anything in sight, but the two I have now will not touch fruit and veg at the moment they will only eat lettuce.

 

I have today bought some Vitakraft bird green complete with sprouting pot which I am going to try on them.

 

I looked at vitamins but there is so many I didn't know what to go for. Again what do you do if the budgies will not touch their water because they know when there is something in it.

 

Fruit & Vegetables are an essential part of your birds diet.

If they're not eating it then you'll have to coax them to try some.

It helps if your birds are tame.

If they're tame this is easier as you can hand feed them easily.

Rather than just put a piece of apple between the bars or in a bowl, cut a very fine slice and offer it by hand.

The slightest nibble will land some in their mouth and they may like it.

Same with carrot (which is highly beneficial). Either grate it or cut a very fine slice and offer this.

Again the slightest peck will get some in their mouth and if they keep eating, then they're well on the way to enjoying this and othe greens.

Keep trying till you get something your birds like.

As a precaution to all readers, never feed your birds avocado. It is toxic to most parrots and ingestion is generally fatal.

 

To see exactly what I mean, have a look at my website below and see the pictures of "Lucky" eating apple from my hand (front cover and "Miscellaneous" section).

 

IF your bird is in need of a vitamin boost for any reason (e.g. during moult which is a very stressful time for a budgie) and you are confused as to what vitamins to administer and secondly you see that your bird so dislikes the taste of any medication in the water that you see it take a sip, shake its head and spit it out then as a last resort you could add a tiny bit of glucose the water to sweeten it a bit.

Failing that, if your bird seems stressed out in any way, take it to an avain veterinarian who will see if in fact it is in need of a vitamin supplement in the first place and if so will know how to administer it.

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Terri, your link didn't work.

I love all that information. I am still trying to convert my aviary birds - they will eat weeds but nothing else. Great ideas!

I fixed the link. I have no clue why it got converted to HTML. :) Weeeird.

 

Anyhow, glad to be of help! Hope one of those ideas works for ya.

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Now I'm getting an error message for the link. It's a conspiracy! :D

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Now I'm getting an error message for the link. It's a conspiracy! :D

I see what's happening. It's trying to associate the link with *this* website for some reason. Maybe it's a bug because I used the list function? I'll try and fix it.

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Now I'm getting an error message for the link. It's a conspiracy! :D

 

Same Here...It doesn't like us Lin.

 

................................................................

 

Gil

 

I am trying to find a list of GOOD FOOD and BAD FOOD. I know of the advacado but what is else shouldn't we give them.

Edited by daz
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