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Help me help my lovebird (plucking, diarrhea, possible red suffusion)

kokodabirb

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To preface there's no avian vets in my country. No vets do a blood test/x-ray or fecal test. They just prescribe you the same 3 antibiotics (chlortetracycline, sulfadimidine and enrocin) and send you off without a care.

My lovebird is 4 and a half years old.
Her diet for the past year has been a mix of seeds and oats (no sunflower/safflower) in the morning and mash of veggies for lunch: carrot, broccoli, corn, occasionally spinach. And she gets apples and bananas every couple of days. Before that she was on a seed diet.
Recently I have started giving her pellets but she hates them.

She's been hormonal for 3 and a half years and laid eggs 2 and a half years ago.
She has a really bad nesting problem where she has multiple spots in the house where she tries to nest. Even tho I've been keeping her away from them and letting her out in another room she hasn't grown out of the behaviour. As well as regurgitating on some of her toys (which I have removed).

She has an ongoing plucking problem for 6 months now. I found a blood feather on the ground and took a picture of it in October because I had no idea what it was but I didn't know she had plucked it herself. I noticed that she was when she started looking a little bald. (Mid february so almost 2 months ago) It's on the neck area behind her head.






Some days she plucks a blood feather or two, some days none. There are days where she has plucked 15+. (I've been keeping a log for a month now and it's not on any particular day) On march 2nd probably around 15, days in between 3-4. Then on march 12th another fit of plucking out about 15 feathers. Then it decreased to 1-2 per day some days 3 until this weekend when it was probably around 15+ again.

Things I've tried/changes I've made:
Started adding vitamins to her water.
Adding in pellets to her diet (she hates them and only way she eats them is when I mix them into her mash and she ingests them by accident because it's so sticky)
Got her new toys/changed cage location.
Buying a new seed mix in case the old one was spoiled
Plucking collar which hated it and tore it to shreds as well as ingested a fiber
(the same day - March 14th she almost died due to aspiration and I had to give her CPR, she was put on sulfadimidine as an antibiotic but didn't take the whole course as I thought it was making things worse, her poop was really dark almost black and dry)
Electrolytes+probiotics
Acv in water

Other symptoms I've noticed recently:
Watery poops/diarrhea (sometimes it's just straight up urine)
Bubbly poops (even on days I don't give her veggies that can cause gas but I've read it can take up to a week for them to go back to normal and I haven't tried to go without them for that long)
Developing red feathers (back of her head above the neck, back/wings, feet, below chest)
They're not fully red but the base of the feather is starting to develop red pigment. Looks like the beginning of a red suffusion. I can't get good pictures of the feathers on her body but here's one of the back of her head:





This weekend (Saturday) I had to go on a trip and couldn't find a bird sitter so I brought her along. It was an almost 3h ride.
She plucked in the car and pretty much the whole day.

On Sunday we had an emergency vet visit. Vet gave us ivermectin to apply topically and chlortetracycline to put in water.
I applied a drop of the ivermectin to her neck area and gave her the antibiotic.

The next morning (monday) she was sleeping in late which worried me because she usually can't wait to be uncovered. As soon as I did she started vomiting. She vomited twice and didn't want to eat or drink.
I convinced her to drink a bit (of the water with the antibiotic) and to eat some banana (her favorite)
and a mix of seeds/oats. Before the car ride back home I gave her some shredded carrot/broccoli because she was refusing to drink water and figured high water content food would be good for her.
She hasn't vomited since but her poops have been very small. She also plucked on the car ride and when we got home.

Tuesday and Wednesday she was lethargic but eating. Refused to drink much of the antibiotic. I've been giving her veggies and fruit high in water content and normal water because I didn't want her to get dehydrated.

Thursday morning (today) she was sleeping in later than usual. When I uncovered her she started vomiting right away but she had nothing to vomit. And she had plucked 3 feathers overnight. Today would've been the 5th day of the antibiotic course but I'm going to stop giving it to her because I'm now convinced she's vomiting because of it.
I hate giving her antibiotics blindly when the veterinarians don't even know if they could help her because they don't even bother diagnosing her with anything.

At first I was thinking her plumage is turning red due to a high vitamin A veggie diet + the supplemental vitamins.
But because of the other symptoms (the diarrhea and bubbly poops) I've been doing a lot of reading and I'm thinking she might have polyuria and liver disease due to an underlying cause which we have no way of determining. I'm at a loss and I don't know what to do.
Diet wise I'm still trying to get her to eat pellets and will continue to make her chop.


If you've read all of this thank you and thank you for trying to help.
 
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kokodabirb

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I also want to add that she's been digging in a corner of the bottom of her cage. From what I've read this is a hormonal behavior. She doesn't have a paper lining anymore because she would shred it and try make a nest. This has been ongoing for a while. I don't even know when it really started. It's probably been months now :( and I just noticed that the paint from the cage bars in that corner is pretty much gone. Could it be heavy metal poisoning?

I'm so desperate I want to help her the best I can but vets here are useless unless it comes to taking your money and giving you antibiotic without even looking at your bird. :(
 

Zara

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I don´t think I can help much. But a couple of points,

Red suffusion / red feathers appearing would incdicate liver or kidney problems.
Is that related to the plucking? I dont´know, but I don´t think I´ve read anything like it. So there could be two separate issues going on.

I just noticed that the paint from the cage bars in that corner is pretty much gone. Could it be heavy metal poisoning?
Get a new cage for her as soon as you can. Call your vet and let them know about the cage.

Not letting her nest will cause frustration, could that stress her to pluck? Maybe. Just throwing some ideas out there to look into. It still could be some sort of illness or disease, there are lots of different reasons why locebirds pluck. Seems like the car rides stressed her and caused her to pluck more.

I wonder if your vet could conference call with another vet?
You need blood tests ran for your bird to really look at what is going on, and hopefully get some answers.
 
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kokodabirb

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I don´t think I can help much. But a couple of points,

Red suffusion / red feathers appearing would incdicate liver or kidney problems.
Is that related to the plucking? I dont´know, but I don´t think I´ve read anything like it. So there could be two separate issues going on.


Get a new cage for her as soon as you can. Call your vet and let them know about the cage.

Not letting her nest will cause frustration, could that stress her to pluck? Maybe. Just throwing some ideas out there to look into. It still could be some sort of illness or disease, there are lots of different reasons why locebirds pluck. Seems like the car rides stressed her and caused her to pluck more.

I wonder if your vet could conference call with another vet?
You need blood tests ran for your bird to really look at what is going on, and hopefully get some answers.
Thanks for the reply.
I've seen 3 vets and have spoken to multiple. No vets do blood tests, fecal tests or x-rays as I stated in my post unfortunately. I live in North Macedonia for reference. And due to the situation I cannot travel outside of my country.

My first thought was that her plucking is due to hormones but her having watery poops for a while now has me worried/thinking it might be something else. Otherwise she's been drinking/eating well. She hasn't been losing any weight, I try to weigh her a couple times a week. In retrospect she was a bit lethargic during the winter and sleeping more than usual.

Also I've removed the bottom metal grate in case she starts digging again and will get another cage if I see her chewing elsewhere.


How her poops looked in late February (pics were taken in the morning so the poop was already dried out by then but the color was off obviously)


Her poop yesteday after having veggies for lunch (bubbly due to gas from the broccoli or a symptom?):


How her poop looks today:



According to this chart she might be struggling with both kidney and liver issues. And both could be caused by metal toxicity. I'm just so frustrated and sad that I can't find a vet that will give her the proper care. All I can do right now is offer the best care and diet.

I think she's feeling tired from the antibiotic (chlortetracycline) which I've stopped giving to her this morning because I suspect it's either that or the ivermectin that caused the vomiting and I only applied that once topically on sunday. She has taken a bath since then and I'm hoping it's washed off her skin.
I added a makeshift bed for her and a watter bottle wrapped in fabric so it keeps her warm (don't have a heating pad). And I've also added electrolytes+probiotic to her water as well as vitamins which I've done in the best but I don't know if they help.

I've read a countless amount of articles and I know some birds never stop plucking but I can't be home with her 24/7 and I'm just so worried that she might bleed to death from a blood feather.
 
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Hankmacaw

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What a sad situation - I'm sorry. There is no way to know exactly what is wrong with her without blood tests and at the vey least swabs and gram stains of the anus and throat. The bubbles in the poop will generally indicate a digestive system bacterial infection - but with out tests?? The bubbles can also be from gassy vegetable such as broccoli.

chlortetracycline - Not commonly given in the US (Doxycycline is more common)
sulfadimidine - Not commonly given in the US (SMP-TMZ is more common)
enrocin - is Enrofloxicin or Baytril (many other brand names) it is a broad spectrum antibiotic with good penetration. It's downside is that it make many birds nauseous and with long term use can cause cellular damage - rare but not unknow.

You vet has pretty much covered the spectrum of types of antibiotics.

As far as the liver/kidney damage mentioned by @Zara, there is no green or yellow tint to the urates which is generally a giveaway for these diseases - but still possible. The plucking could very well be the result of a swollen liver causing her pain.

I really wish we could help more, but we are not vets. Just have a lot of experience.
 
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