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How much hope is there for birds with heart disease?

AGS

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Do you know how long the medicine will take to show improvements? I meant to ask the vet but forgot. And would it be a sudden difference or just gradually getting better?
 

Hankmacaw

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You should notice your bird getting somewhat better almost immediately. This is because it immediately starts to relax the muscles in the walls of the arteries and allows blood to flow better ( not perfect, but some). Keep in mind that there is no cure for atherosclerosis only supportive meds and care. Unfortunately, atherosclerosis is progressive and will get worse. - you are slowing the advance.

Is the giardia being addressed?
 

AGS

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He still wants to sleep today but he does seem more alert.

I just treat him every few months for the giardia. It seems to be pretty much impossible to get rid of completely. But the medicine he’s on now seems to work the best.
 

AGS

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Does the oxygen therapy you do for jasper work for atherosclerosis too or is it for her other heart problems? If it does, is that something I’d buy through the vet, or order online?
 

Hankmacaw

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It is important to treat giardia to cure it. Giardia affects the overall health of a bird any allows secondary infections, some of which can be deadly. Metronizodole is the accepted treatment for Giardia.
Giardia in Birds - Bird Vet Melbourne . Please read this. Giardia in Birds - Bird Vet Melbourne

Jasper has received two hours of O2 per day for many years. It is just one of a large number of medications and supplements that she receives on a daily basis. This is the oxygen concentrator I own - bought it from this company.

I have no empirical evidence that the O2 has done her any good, but Dr. Driggers says that you cannot hurt an animal by giving it oxygen. I personally believe the O2 has done her good.
 

AGS

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He took metronidazole before but would always remain underweight and the parasite would still show up in fecal tests. He takes ronidazole now which allowed him to gain weight (70 grams to 80 grams, which is healthy for him). It’s also apparently safer as far as affecting their kidney/liver function. I do treat him but he always gets reinfected. I went as far as pouring boiling water over his cage everyday and letting it soak, plus throwing away and replacing his perches every few days and disinfecting my room with F10 but eventually it came back. I think he gets reinfected through his feathers though and there’s no way to scrub a bird like you can for a cat or dog.

I think the oxygen could definitely help. I’ll look into it though because I know it would stress him out, so I’m not sure if that much stress everyday would outweigh the benefits of the oxygen.
 

Hankmacaw

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I put Jasper in a clear plastic tub (like the ones you can get at Walmart). I put a soft blanket on the bottom and throw in a few toys. She doesn't mind it at all.
 

AGS

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Just wondering if it’s too late for him. The medicine definitely helped a bit because he is more alert and wants to play some. But he still sleeps for most of the first half of the day, it’s only towards the evening that he gets a little energy. And he’s still eating excessively.
 

Hankmacaw

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It takes a long time to see improvement and then the progress is baby steps. You will have ups and downs and make no mistake he will eventually die from the atherosclerosis or a secondary condition caused by it's presence. It is not an easy, nor is it a short journey, but you can have many months/years of his company.

You can get get discouraged and even hopeless, at times, but don't give up.
 

AGS

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I won’t give up on him, I know he won’t give up either.

I’m going to ask the vet about other medications as well. The way she said it on the phone made it sound like the medicine he’s on is the only one she knew about. So maybe she can do some research.

Also, should he be eating any seeds at all? I know usually they shouldn’t but cockatiels normally need more seeds than other birds. Should I cut them out completely? I usually only give him a bit.
 

Hankmacaw

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Ask her about Enalipril, Benazipril, and sildenafil. Isuxoprine is an older medication that is usually used in birds that have heart damage (and other too.)

I wouldn't give him any seeds. They are very fatty and he is in a crisis mode.
 

AGS

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I talked to the vet today and she said those medications are for birds already in heart failure so putting him on them could hurt him since he’s not in heart failure. She does want him to see a cardiologist though to get an echocardiogram. I’ll schedule that today since she said it can take a month to get an appointment.

She did say that the medicine can take weeks to start showing really noticeable improvements though.
 

Hankmacaw

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I'm afraid I don't agree with your vet. You need to check some of the
liturature ab out heart disease in bird.
 
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AGS

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I’ll probably end up seeing Dr. Driggers to get his opinion. Dr. Lamb does seem to be a good vet but maybe she just doesn’t know as much about heart conditions. I want him to have the best chance possible so if those medications could help then I want him to switch ASAP. I was looking them up and it seems like some are for blood pressure, which apparently can cause atherosclerosis/worsen it even if you have no other health issues. And Widget doesn’t have high cholesterol or any of the obvious causes.

The good news is I’m seeing some improvements. He seems to be more alert, wanting to play, and he whistled today for the first time in two weeks. He used to whistle everyday. He’s also talking again.
 

enigma731

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It comes from feeding studies that found cockatiels on 100% pellet diets tended to develop liver and kidney issues. In the wild, cockatiels are granivores and seed is a major part of their diet.

I'm sorry, but I don't have the mental bandwidth right now to find sources or more specifics. If that means my advice gets disregarded, then so be it.
 

Hankmacaw

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@AGS My Jasper had an electrocardiogram at Southwest a year+ ago and both Dr. Driggers and I were disappointed in the results as interpreted by the Dr. at Southwest. Take your xrays and other information to Dr. Driggers first is my recommendation - then if necessary you can get a electrocardiogram.
 

AGS

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So Widget does seem to be doing better (energy level wise), but he’s now eating more food than before (he used to eat about 5 grams of pellets, then after he started getting worse it was 7 grams, and now the past few days it’s been 8). When he was eating the 7 grams for a while he was actually gaining a bit of weight despite being sick. Now he has lost weight. I don’t know if I should wait for the appointment or bring him in sooner. Since his energy is getting better I don’t know if it’s the atherosclerosis or if it’s potentially a side effect of one of the medications, specifically the antibiotic (Baytril).

I know when I treat him for the giardia with the ronidazole he will lose even more weight after treatment before gaining it back within a month or so. So I think it could be something like that but I’m not sure. I don’t know if it’s similar to the ronidazole where it will resolve on its own or if he possibly has a secondary infection now. Another possibility is I need to treat him for the giardia again.
 
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