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Dr. Bob
Dr. Bob, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 7940
Experience:  35 years in practice
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Hello. My 7 year old budgie is having problems with his droppings.

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Hello. My 7 year old budgie is having problems with his droppings. They are quite runny and sometimes he just seems to pass clear water. He doesn't seem ill as he's full of beans and bounce and chatter and he isn't fluffed up or sitting quiet. I haven't fed him any greens for weeks and have even stopped giving him millet. As well as the usual supply of grit, cuttle fish and iodine block and seed and water, of course!, I've given him Johnson's avol mixture which seems to settle him but as soon as I stop putting it in his water, the problem returns. I have noticed that he was like this about this time last year so could it be hormonal? I'm at a loss to know what to do and would appreciate any help you can give.
Many thanks
Hello Christine, I'm Dr. Bob.I understand your concern for your little friend, but the fact that h seems to feel and act so well is a big plus in his favor. As avian experts have determined that 90-95% of pet bird health issue are dietary in origin, let's start there. I think we may have found a problem with her diet as you've described it. Dietary imbalances and deficiencies can directly affect a bird's health, but they can also lower their resistance to the effects of stress and infections of all kinds. Avian experts have determined that as many as 90-95% of pet bird illnesses are due to dietary deficiencies. Not only is what they eat important, but the proper proportions are every bit as important. To give some idea of how important, consider the following facts: Normally on an all-seed diet, budgies live an average of 5-7 years; with seeds and some other foods about 10-12 years; with pellets alone about 15-20 years, and with properly balanced proportions of pellets, seeds and other fresh foods, particularly dark leafy vegetables, about 25 years and even longer. Compare what you're feeding your bird to what professional aviary keepers feed their budgies: 70% high quality budgie or parakeet pellets, such as those made by Zupreem, Harrison's, Lafeber, or other reputable manufacturers like Kaytee (these may be purchased from better pet stores or online), Pelleted food is the basic building block of a balanced diet; 20% dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, Swiss chard, kale, cilantro, collard, turnip or beet greens, cooked sweet potato, squash, or pumpkin, carrots with the tops attached, dried chili peppers, yellow, green and red fresh peppers, and only 10% or less, seeds and nut foods. Sunflower seeds are very high in fat, not balanced in regard to calcium and phosphorus, and should be avoided as birds, like small children, tend to pick out and eat what they like, rather than what is good for them. Although it is green, lettuce is practically all water, of no food value whatsoever in the diet, and shouldn't be fed to birds. Fruit is okay as an occasional treat, but unless fed in a dried state, fruit contains 90% water, and quickly fills the bird up without providing many nutrients by weight. Grit is no longer considered necessary to the healthy upkeep of pet birds, and to make matters worse, grit impactions can actually be fatal. Besides intestinal problems, fresh nutrients in balance with one another help prevent skin, respiratory, nerve, and organ problems including diabetes, as well as behavioral problems like over-zealous preening, self-mutilation, excessive or changed vocalization, excessive egg laying in females, aggression, and actually eliminate the need for vitamin supplements or tonics in most cases. I fully understand that it may not be easy to get older birds (as opposed to starting out with a baby at weaning time) like yours, to switch to a better diet, or to eat the proper amounts of the different foods, but you can read an excellent article about how to teach him to eat more properly online here: the article is written for cockatiels, but the principles work just as well in other species of birds. Commercial diets like Hartz and other pet store or supermarket brands of seed-based foods must be baked to kill insect eggs and larvae before shipping. This process also kills the germ in the seeds, destroying many of the heat-sensitive components in the food. In addition, these foods are rarely shelf-dated, and may be months or years old when actually fed. The result is often that the bird fills itself up on foods that contain mostly empty calories, and seeking proper nutrients, may develop the habit of eating non-food items. I think you may very well be correct that hormonal increases in the breeding season may be the underlying stimulus for his loose droppings, but feeding a balanced diet with be a huge help in keeping him healthy all year round with the added benefit of correcting this particular symptom. In the meantime, do not hesitate to use the Johnson's Avol (it's active ingredient is like Pepto-Bismol) as needed to control the consistency of the droppings until the dietary changes are made and take effect - 2-3 days, usually.Proper rest - 12-14 hours nightly under a darkly covered cage in a quiet part of your home, away form conversational, T.V. and other noises will also be beneficial in helping his body to dissipate stress both in and out of breeding season. Hopefully, I've answered all the questions you might have, but if you still should have more, please let me know.kind regards, *****
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Dr. Bob

Many thanks for that. I do feed him loose seed from the pet shop after I thought the pellets in Trill were causing the problem. Should I just continue with the avol or can I buy Pepto-Bismol and how long is it safe to keep giving it to him? I will try giving him some fresh greens but I know carrot didn't go down well. Fussy, just like kids!


Hello again, Christine.
I am presently on my way to work, I'll reply to your question in less than two hours, promise!
Dr. Bob
Okay, I'm at work. While bismuth is the active ingredient in both products, the human product contains additives, coloring and other substances that might not be helpful to your bird, if, could actually prove harmful. Best continue with the Johnson's as needed. The carrots are okay, if he'll eat them, but the greens are actually more valuable to him for their fiber and nutrient content. If I can be of any more assistance to you, now or in the future, please let me know.
Best regards, ***** *****
Dr. Bob and 2 other Vet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Dr Bob.

Thank you for your advice and time. I'll carry on with the Johnson's and see how he gets on. It is reassuring to know it doesn't appear to be anything serious.

Again, many thanks