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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 52321
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 48 years of experience.
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I’m after a bit of advice regarding my budgie. She is 3years

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Good afternoon. I’m after a bit of advice regarding my budgie. She is 3years old and recently started tail bobbing and releasing repetitive quiet tweets. She is generally happy and healthy and enjoys flying around the house with no problems, but as soon as she stops and rests she starts to tail Bob and tweet. She can do this for multiple hours. Is this a sign of sickness or is it merely a comfort thing she has developed?
JA: Hi there. I'll do all I can to help. Can you tell me a little more about the budgie's situation?
Customer: at present she is sitting on her perch, fluffed up and releasing the quiet tweets. Her tail is moving a little but not as much as I have seen.
JA: What environment do you keep the budgie in? Does she interact with other pets or animals?
Customer: She is in a cage by herself but has a Mina bird she talks to and plays with when out and about. They wouldn’t share a cage as they are both territorial with regards ***** ***** cages.
JA: What's the budgie's name?
Customer: Snowdrop
JA: Is there anything else the Vet should know?
Customer: For a budgie she is rather small but I’m not sure if this has bearing.

Dr. Michael Salkin is typing. Please be patient.

I'm sorry to hear about this with Snowdrop. Her tail bobbing up and down in an exaggerated movement can indicate not only respiratory disease in the form of tracheal obstruction, pulmonary disease, or severe air sac disease but also external pressure on the air sacs due to internal organ enlargement/tumor, egg binding, or ascites (free fluid in the coelom/"abdomen"). It's important to note that once a budgie acts ill it's already quite ill and in need of the attention of an avian-oriented vet (please see here: www.theparrotsocietyuk.org/veterinaryadvice/avian-vets). This is a protective mechanism because sick birds are attacked by other birds in the wild. Her luffing (an attempt to conserve heat) and vocalizing are additional worrisome signs.

Until Snowdrop can be attended to, please 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. 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 Snowdrop's 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: www.harrisonsbirdfoods.com or here: www.lafeber.com/pet-birds 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.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
She has mainly seeds, a so called complete diet, but she also has an iodine block that she likes to eat and a cuttle fish bone that she chews on for calcium. She is a bit daft when it comes to other food. She acts scared of Apple and anything green, but likes her millet

Thank you. She's likely to be deficient in vitamin D3 which is needed to efficiently absorb calcium. Weakness - including of the respiratory muscles - is a hallmark for hypocalcemia. Be sure to add those supplements to her water until she can be attended to. Here's are some tricks in transitioning her to a better diet: https://www.harrisonsbirdfoods.com/using-our-foods/diet-conversion/

Please continue in this conversation if you wish.

Dr. Michael Salkin and other Vet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Thanks you for your advice today, doctor. I will certainly try all the advice to get her well again.

You're quite welcome. I can't set a follow up in this venue and so please return to our conversation with an update at your convenience.

Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it.