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How much hope is there for birds with heart disease?

AGS

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I was doing some reading and it seems that yeast infections are common after taking baytril. He has actually lost a lot of weight. 4 grams in 12 days (which is about 5% of his body weight). Should I see about taking him in as an emergency?

We haven’t actually made the appointment yet (my brother has to drive me and he just started school so we had to figure out how to work around his schedule) but based on previous times they probably won’t have an appointment for 2 weeks or so and we were planning on calling tomorrow for that. But we can ask about an emergency appointment instead.
 

enigma731

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My gut sense is that you're still missing something in this diagnostic picture. 4g isn't a HUGE amount but I probably wouldn't wait 2 weeks.
 

AGS

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What other tests could we do? We’ve done x-rays, bloodwork, fecal tests (gram stain and parasites). X-rays were normal with the exception of the atherosclerosis and enlarged spleen (which is most likely due to chronic giardia). His bloodwork showed 100% normal with the exception of low protein due to the giardia and the type of white blood cells that indicate an intestinal infection (the giardia and bacteria, which has always been elevated for him).

The only symptoms I’m seeing right now are the lack of energy (which has improved), excessive eating, and weight loss. The first two would make sense given the lack of energy due to atherosclerosis, plus I keep records of how much he eats and it’s not unusual for him to eat a bit more after he loses weight from the giardia. The weight loss could definitely be a yeast infection, some sites I’ve seen online even go as far as to say they will almost always happen when taking antibiotics for that long.

Sorry if any of this comes across as rude, I actually just want to know your opinion on what else you think we should look into. If we rule out yeast infections/other infections as causing the weight loss then we’d have to look into other things.
 

Ripshod

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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.
Please don't ignore this advice, it's so valuable.
I see this response often. What is in the seed that Cockatiels need?
I could list everything but it's basically a whole load of seeds of the types they'd eat in the wild.
Feeding just pellets can kill a small bird in such a short time and often goes ignored because the question isn't asked. Diet, diet, diet!
 
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Hankmacaw

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@Ripshod I don't believe anyone recommended a 100% pellet diet. No one that I'm aware of on this forum had ever recommended a 100% pellet diet.
 

enigma731

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could we all just focus on helping this bird? I hardly ever give advice anymore because lately it turns into derailment by members who just want me to be wrong because I had the gall to disagree with their past advice. I don't want to see that happening here too.
 

alshgs

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I don't have any advice but I hope he shows some improvement soon!
 

Hankmacaw

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@AGS Have you given Widget probiotics during his antibiotic treatment? The Baytril (or any antibiotic, for that matter will indiscriminately kill the digestive system flora and a probiotic will help to replace the flora so digestion can be accomplished.

This is what I use.
 

AGS

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@Hankmacaw No I didn’t, could they help now or will he still need treatment if it is a yeast infection?
 

Hankmacaw

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If he is still on antibiotics it will help him and if is a yeast infection and he is treated for it , it will help him. It's one of those things that is good to have around all of the time. Probably would help when he's treated for AGY as well.
 

AGS

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@Hankmacaw He‘s not still on the antibiotics but the good news is it might just have been a bit of an upset from the antibiotics. He gained a gram yesterday and I weighed him again today and he’s still at that weight.

I think he is definitely doing better but I think he could be doing even better. I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Driggers but they didn’t have anything for 3 weeks. I did look into those medications more and I’m not seeing anything that says they’re just for heart failure like Dr. Lamb said, so I think either switching meds or adding it onto his current one could help.

In the meantime I wanted to ask about the oxygen therapy. I was doing more reading and it seems it can really help their energy levels. So I think I will order the machine. Widget tends to be scared of pretty much everything but I think I can get him used to it.

How do you clean those machines? Is it similar to humidifiers/portable AC’s where they can grow mold or is that not a concern?
 

Hankmacaw

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No - they don't grow mold, unless you use the humidifier attachment with them. The concentrator comes with instructions of how to clean - not much to it.

Yes, Dr. Driggers is unbelievably busy. They have to be getting very frazzled by now.
 

AGS

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I went ahead and ordered it. They are having delays though so it won’t ship for about 10 days. So I should just drill a hole in a tub to put the tubing through?
 

Hankmacaw

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The tubing will be 1/4" so use a 1/4" drill. I put the hose in mine in a corner near the top (oxygen is heavier than air). Be sure to get a clear tub that is just a couple of inches longer than him and his tail. Put padding on the bottom and trow in a few foot toys. Don't baby him -stay with him for 5-10 minutes and then leave. I leave Jasper in the box for an hour then bring her out to potty.

I'sure they are super busy. People were using for Covid.
 

AGS

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Thank you for all the help!

I’m thinking now the oxygen could really help him. He heard some dogs howling outside and wanted to whistle at them but could only just keep repeating the 1 second whistle he does rather than the longer whistle he usually does.

I also was wondering whether it’s normal to have good and bad days? I know with a lot of illnesses it’s like that. He seems to do so well some days then revert the next day, then go back to feeling better again, etc.
 

Hankmacaw

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Sure. A bird that is ill, just like humans that are ill, will have good days and bad days. You have to learn to take them in stride and adjust for those bad days.
 

AGS

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Well I finally got all of the oxygen stuff set up (I’m an idiot and assumed it came with tubing for some reason, so I had to wait for that to ship as well). I did 20 minutes of it for two days now just to start out. He’s scared at first but I think it does help because then he wants to play and whistle. I will try to do 30 minutes tomorrow and build up from there.

Just curious, does the oxygen only have short term effects (as in it only helps for the day that you use it) or can it also have even more benefits over time (similar to the medication where it helps somewhat immediately then helps even more over time)?

Also do you order the tubing from the same website you linked for the concentrator or do you buy them from somewhere else? @Hankmacaw
 

AGS

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Well he saw Dr. Driggers today. The other vet forgot to send over the blood work results and the x-rays were showing up really low quality for some reason so he wants to wait till they send those over and decide where to go from there. He wants to see about possibly checking his blood pressure to decide between trying benazepril or sildenafil. He also mentioned possibly doing a CT scan but I’m not sure how much that would help since despite technically not being able to diagnose the atherosclerosis from the x-rays, based on symptoms/improvement of symptoms with the meds, I’m pretty much 100% sure he has it.
 

Hankmacaw

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@AGS Sorry, I sort of dropped you, but my Jasper died on 9/11 and I've been pretty discombubbled.

The CT is, of course, much more detailed and shows more, but it is expensive ( Approx $500). One of Jaspers xrays shows the atherosclerosis just like it was the big branch on a tree - very clear and she had severe atherosclerosis when that one was taken. So it can be diagnosed by xray, but maybe your bird is too tiny. Dr. Driggers has the really good digital xray set ups, so his xrays are exceptionally clear and detailed.

Benazipril is an ACE inhibitor and relaxes the wall of blood vessels so blood can flow more easily.
Sildenafil
" Sildenafil decreases the activity of PDE5, so that more cyclic GMP is available for the blood vessels inside the lungs. This leads to relaxation, or widening, of those vessels. Relaxing and widening of the blood vessels in the lungs decreases the pulmonary blood pressure to the heart and improves its function."
That is why he wants to take the bird's blood pressure.

Does Dr. Driggers think he has atherosclerosis? Are you using the oxygen generator?
 

AGS

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No need to apologize for that at all, I’m very sorry to hear about Jasper.

I think you can actually see the atherosclerosis in his descending aorta, but the machine they use at the other vet I guess just isn’t as clear, so Dr. Lamb couldn’t tell whether it was that or a lung issue at the time. It was kind of blurry. But he has no symptoms of any kind of lung issue.

He said he can’t say for sure without the CT scan, however he does think it is most likely that just based on the fact that he improved so much with the medication. But the CT scan can show the extent of it more clearly and can also show any further issues that the x-rays might not show.

I have been doing the oxygen, just trying to build up how long we do it for because after about 40 minutes he starts panicking and wanting to get out. However I think I need a smaller tub so he can’t move around as much because he uses that whole time as play time and is using up all of that energy the oxygen is giving him, so I’m not seeing that much improvement after he gets out. I actually saw more improvement when I did it for less time because he was sitting still for most of the time. So I think a smaller tub would be better.
 
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