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How much hope is there for birds with heart disease?

AGS

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Well he had the echocardiogram done today. It was done by the cardiologist Dr. Driggers uses, but it was done at a different office since it’s a mobile vet. The cardiologist can’t restrain Widget by himself while doing the ultrasound, and his vet techs had no idea how to restrain a bird. They were asking me how to do it and originally were squeezing his body rather than holding his neck. They tried three times and Widget was making squeaks in pain. When they let him out the third time he immediately got fluffed up and could barely open his eyes.

We decided to give up after that. Now I’m very scared he’s been injured internally based on how he was acting. I asked if it’s possible he was injured and they said no. It might have just been the severe stress (since usually when restrained at the vet they know what they’re doing and he’s only restrained for a few minutes).

If he is okay next week we will try again with the cardiologist actually coming to the normal vet so one of the vets can restrain him properly while he has the procedure done.
 

Kassiani

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I'm sorry to hear this! A good vet tech is invaluable, smh.

I hope he'll be feeling a bit better today after all that.
 

Hankmacaw

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Hmmm - I was allowed/encouraged to restrain Jasper myself when she had an electrocardiogram Perhaps you could ask if you can restrain him next time.
 

AGS

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He is definitely feeling better. I will ask them next time, although he really panics when I restrain him so maybe if whichever vet is at the appointment restrains him that’s even better.
 

AGS

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Well he had the echocardiogram done today and there is nothing wrong with his heart. They could see the atherosclerosis in the descending aorta but his heart itself is healthy. Which, as much as that is good news, it also means there’s no other medications we can try for him.

I didn’t hold him because the avian vet techs are usually pretty good about handling him. But they made him bleed in two spots and I didn't notice until we got home but he is having trouble walking and stepping up. His ankle (I think, the first big joint on his leg) is very swollen and has gotten more swollen in the time since we got back home. If it were broken, would he still walk on it?
 

Sparkles!

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Well he had the echocardiogram done today and there is nothing wrong with his heart. They could see the atherosclerosis in the descending aorta but his heart itself is healthy. Which, as much as that is good news, it also means there’s no other medications we can try for him.

I didn’t hold him because the avian vet techs are usually pretty good about handling him. But they made him bleed in two spots and I didn't notice until we got home but he is having trouble walking and stepping up. His ankle (I think, the first big joint on his leg) is very swollen and has gotten more swollen in the time since we got back home. If it were broken, would he still walk on it?
Weight bearing if broken? Perhaps. If it is still very swollen in the morning, I would probably seek a follow up.
 

AGS

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It looks slightly less swollen this morning. It is hurting him, but he is able to stretch the leg and stand on it alone while stretching his other leg.

He has sprained his leg multiple times before but it was never noticeably swollen. This is usually how he acts when it’s sprained though. I actually noticed that his leg seemed slightly injured from the last appointment, but it was so subtle that I couldn’t tell for sure.
 

AGS

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Well his new favorite thing is climbing into one of his perches and violently flapping his wings to get my attention. He used to do it sometimes early in the morning and it seemed he was actually scared of something, but since it was bright he didn’t have a real night fright.

I usually wait a bit to get him up in the morning because he usually wakes up at around 6-8 then will take a nap. If I get him up when he first wakes up he is tired for the rest of the day.

Now it seems that he has learned it gets attention because I’m always so worried he might hit his wing and break a blood feather that I always check on him after. The past few times he has done it when I took him out to check he just started dancing. So I guess in the future I will try to wait a few minutes before checking on him so he doesn’t make the connection that it works.
 

AGS

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He has seemed pretty low energy lately but now I’m noticing some concerning things. He seems to be declining but that has happened at least 3 times because of the heart disease but it usually follows a pattern and this time it’s not. So I’m worried he has some other kind of illness.

He has been eating less food and now has lost two grams (usually he eats 7-8 grams of food and now it’s 5-6). With the heart disease, when it gets bad he actually eats more food than normal because he needs the energy. Not less.

There is also a “game“ he likes to play with his food towards the evening and when he first got sick he was so low energy he wouldn’t do it anymore because he only has the energy to eat as fast as possible and lay back down. Now he is once again not having the energy to do that.

I know eating less and losing weight is basically symptom of any illness. I’m not really noticing any other specific symptoms except that he has diarrhea in the morning, but that usually happens because of his chronic giardia. In any other case I would say he’s just having some bad days because of the heart disease, but it’s really unusual that he would eat less than normal so now I’m wondering if something else is wrong.
 

AGS

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@Hankmacaw I saw some of your posts about Jasper and that she had low blood flow to her digestive system before you switched to sildenafil. if you read my previous post, do you think that’s possible that’s whats happening, and that it could cause him to eat less and lose weight? Widget has already tried sildenafil and it didn’t work for him for some reason.

If so, any healthy foods that can get him some extra calories? I know people suggest more seeds but I don’t know if that would help in his situation.
 

Hankmacaw

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Sildeneil's purpose is to reduce the blood pressure. What I suggest with your bird is to start feeding him at least one meal a day by hand. Use a high calorie pellet like Tropican or Harrison's HP and enhance with Almond butter and olive oil. After you get that mixture done put Prozyme in the mixture. Prozyme predigests the food and makes it more available for through the digestive system.
 

Kassiani

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I wish I had some great advice to offer, but sending prayers for Widget and you. I think I’ve read that something like almond butter is a good, lower-fat, calorie dense food you can try, but I have no idea if that is ok for a bird with atherosclerosis. @Hankmacaw will definitely know what might help!

I’m so sorry about his ankle and hope he’s feeling better now!
 

AGS

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Thank you! I’m ordering the Tropican pellets now to try as well as the Prozyme. He wouldn’t eat Harrison’s before but I can try again.

Any ideas on how to get him to eat the almond butter? He won’t touch anything that’s not dry and crunchy. Not sure if it’s possible to give it by syringe if I mix it with liquid to make it thinner?

As much as I don’t want to I also am considering taking him back in to have more blood work and possibly x-rays just to make sure it’s not something else. Although I would think if it’s was some other kind of organ problem like kidneys/liver disease that he would have other symptoms?

And thank you @Kassiani, his ankle is healed now. Your support has helped a lot, and you too @Hankmacaw
 

Kassiani

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If you think Widget might eat from a syringe or spoon, you could try that. If texture is his thing, maybe mix pellets with the almond butter, roll it into a ball (like a nutriberry--sort of), and see if he'll eat that?

@saroj12 has some special-needs birds that she feeds supplemental food using a syringe. Perhaps she'll have some tips on consistency.
 

saroj12

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If you think Widget might eat from a syringe or spoon, you could try that. If texture is his thing, maybe mix pellets with the almond butter, roll it into a ball (like a nutriberry--sort of), and see if he'll eat that?

@saroj12 has some special-needs birds that she feeds supplemental food using a syringe. Perhaps she'll have some tips on consistency.
You could try mixing some unsweetened juice or water in a teaspoon of almond butter and offer it on a spoon. If you’re skilled at syringe feeding then you can use a 1ml syringe.
 

Hankmacaw

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I highly recommend that you take the pellets and grind them finely in a blender (a coffee grinder is even better). Then put the ground pellets, almond butter and enough twater or juice to make a slurry - add a small (very small ) amount of Prozyme so that it will go through a syringe easily. Then feed it to him by syringe. This way you will know that he is getting the nutrients. He should look forward to this feeding very soon.
 

AGS

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I will do that, thank you!
 

AGS

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Widget seems to have discovered that he has a crest lol. When he was preening himself his crest got caught on his branch and he saw it and grabbed it. Ever since I’ve caught him multiple times rubbing his head on things so he can get a glimpse of it.
 

AGS

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This might be a dumb question but the prozyme I bought contains aspergillus? Is that the same as the fungus or is it safe?
 

AGS

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Well he had bloodwork a couple weeks ago that showed his potassium was dangerously high (at 10.1). He just had that redone and it is actually at 6.2.

So we think it is a combination of the benazepril which can cause high potassium, dehydration (his appointment was in the morning so he had only had a couple sips of water), and the issues with the blood draw he had last time (bruising and most likely some ruptured blood cells that leaked excess potassium and made the results higher than they actually were).

6.2 is still high but much less scary than 10.1 (which in humans is deadly and birds’ normal range is 1.5-4.5 so pretty similar to humans).
 
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