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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 62736
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 48 years of experience.
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How much is a chat first, cockatiel, 2 days. Sitting at

Customer Question

How much is a chat first
JA: What type of bird are we talking about?
Customer: cockatiel
JA: I'll do all I can to help. Can you tell me a little more about the cockatiel's situation? How long has this been a concern?
Customer: 2 days. Sitting at bottom of cage. Not interested in food water. Even Millet. Bit wobbly.
JA: A lack of appetite can seem worrying. Does the cockatiel also seem more tired than usual?
Customer: Yes
JA: Does the cockatiel seem to be in any pain?
Customer: ????? I’ve held her. She doesn’t flinch. But inherited her 8 years ago. From my uncle. She’s never been very friendly
JA: What's the cockatiel's name?
Customer: Doris
JA: Is there anything else the Vet should know about Doris?
Customer: cant see any cuts, blood’ there’s been birds poo. So don’t think she’s constipated. Just lethargic and wobbly. Weak.
Submitted: 9 days ago.
Category: Bird
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
Any answers to Doris.
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
I’ve put a heat pad under a towel, put vitamins in her water. Put her salt block, favourite food & millet on the bottom of the cage so she can reach it. Put a cover over the cage. What else can I do.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 8 days ago.

Dr. Michael Salkin is typing. Please be patient.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 8 days ago.

I'm sorry to hear about this with Doris.

It's important to note that once a cockatiel acts ill it's already quite ill and in need of the attention of an avian-oriented vet (please see here: This is a protective mechanism because sick birds are attacked by other birds in the wild. Doris' clinical signs of bottom dwelling (weakness) and anorexia are important signs but they're not pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of any one particular disorder. They represent “sick bird syndrome” - acute onset illness with an array of highly nonspecific clinical signs.

An avian-oriented vet might first treat symptomatically and supportively by providing supplemental fluids and electrolytes by needle and tube feeding a "recovery" food. Blood tests and cultures of Doris' choana - the slit between her oral cavity and nose - and cloaca (vent) may be taken. Whole body X-rays can be helpful as well.

Until Doris can be attended to, please continue to heat up her environment to 29.4C by means of a 100W bulb shined into her partially covered cage (not at night when she needs to rest) or by taping a heating pad set on its lowest setting to the sides of her cage. If she appears weakened, remove her perches and put her food and water on the bottom of the cage along with her. Continue to add a water-soluble avian vitamin such as Oasis brand Vita-Drops to her water at half of the recommended dose so as not to make her water distasteful. Add a calcium supplement such as Calcivet or Calciboost to her water. These supplements are available in pet/feed stores. Avoid over the counter antibiotics designed to be placed in her water. They won't be effective if only because an ill bird won't drink enough to medicate itself properly.

Nutritional imbalances are a common cause of illness in our pet birds. What has Doris' diet consisted of, please?  Seeds should comprise less than 20% of her diet. A diet of mainly seed and nuts has excessive fat, carbohydrates, and phosphorus; marginal protein; adequate vitamin E, and are deficient in amino acids, calcium, available phosphorus, sodium, manganese, zinc, iron, vitamins A, D3 (necessary for efficient absorption of calcium), K, and B12, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, choline, and available niacin.  Ideally, a balanced pelleted diet such as can be found here: or here: should be fed as well as hard-boiled egg yolk, pancakes and cornbread, the tops of fresh greens, dairy products such as yogurt and cheese - yes these low lactose foods are safe, fresh fruits such as apples, pears, melon, kiwi, and berries, vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, beets, asparagus, cabbage, sweet potato, and squash, and even tiny pieces of meat.

For tricks in transitioning her to a formulated diet please see here: and click on “Feeding Harrison's”.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 8 days ago.
Can you please recommend a medicine. Or a way of getting Doris to drink. I’ve tried warm tea with her water on a spoon.
Customer: replied 8 days ago.
White & red millet seed. Striped sunflower seed (which she leaves) canary seed. Safflower hemp seed. Groats. Buckwheat oats paddy rice veg oil. Regular fruit sticks. Which she munches. Millet spray.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 8 days ago.

An avian vet needs to examine Doris before knowing if a medicine is needed and, if so, prescribe it.  You're not allowed to purchase these medicines over the counter in the UK.

You can encourage a bird to drink by offering water with a few drops of honey in it.  You can also try a pediatric fluid replacer (Pedialyte, generics) or sports drinks.  Doris's diet is heavy in grains and seeds.  Try the fresh foods I posted above.

Please continue in this conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 8 days ago.
Eventually found a vet. They have ended her life.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 8 days ago.

My condolences for your loss of Doris.  I appreciate your taking the time to let me know.