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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 57771
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 48 years of experience.
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Our budgie has lost 7g in the last month and my daughter

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Hi, our budgie has lost 7g in the last month and my daughter thinks he needs antibiotics?
JA: Hi there. I'll do all I can to help. Can you tell me a little more about the budgie's situation?
Customer: he’s 3 and been fine up to now but seems to have lost a lot of weight quickly. My daughter thinks he’s more sleepy than usual and has fallen off his perch a couple of times
JA: How has the budgie's appetite been? Any changes in his stool?
Customer: just checking with my daughter...
JA: Could he have eaten something unusual?
Customer: no I don’t think so. No change in poo, doesn’t seem to have as much appetite
JA: What's the budgie's name?
Customer: Ollie Foster
JA: Is there anything else the Vet should know?
Customer: no I don’t think so

Dr. Michael Salkin is typing. Please be patient.

I'm sorry to hear about this with Ollie. That's a profound weight loss indicating a critically ill bird.

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: theparrotsocietyuk.org/veterinary advice/avian-vets). This is a protective mechanism because sick birds are attacked by other birds in the wild. Ollie's clinical signs are important signs but they're not pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of any one particular disorder. They're part of an array of highly nonspecific signs of what we call “sick bird syndrome”.

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 Ollie's choana - the slit between his oral cavity and nose - and cloaca (vent) may be taken. Whole body X-rays can be helpful as well.

Until Ollie can be attended to, please heat up his environment to 29.4C by means of a 100W bulb shined into his partially covered cage (not at night when he needs to rest) or by taping a heating pad set on its lowest setting to the sides of his cage. If he appears weakened, remove his perches and put his food and water on the bottom of the cage along with him. Add a water-soluble avian vitamin such as Oasis brand Vita-Drops to his water at half of the recommended dose so as not to make his water distasteful. Add a calcium supplement such as Calcivet or Calciboost to his water. These supplements are available in pet/feed stores. Avoid over the counter antibiotics designed to be placed in his 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 Ollie's diet consisted of, please?

Seeds should comprise less than 20% of his 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. Here are some tricks in transitioning him to pellets: https://www.harrisonsbirdfoods.com/using-our-foods/diet-conversion/

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

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