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Pain Management for Cockatiel Arthritis

JennKerry

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Hello everyone
My cockatiel Woo has developed arthritis in one foot and has been having a hard time getting around. She’s now 24 and she’s my only remaining bird. Her cage mates have lived their life expectancy and she’s now alone. I’m happy for that since there won’t be any issues with her being bullied. She was in a huge cage until yesterday because this past week she’s been falling off her perches. So I bought her a 30x18x18 cage so she’s close to the ground. I put poster board paper along the bottom grate so she can walk on it. I also invested in all new perches are flat.

Is there a water additive I can use that’ll dispense an anti inflammatory or pain reducer? She isn’t one that likes to be handled in that way to administer drops. As it is I got torn up yesterday moving her to the new cage. I can hold her but the moment I try to hold her down the nightmare begins. I really don’t want to stress her especially since she’s old and in pain.

Any advice would be great!
Thanks everyone!
 

Hankmacaw

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Metacam, gabapentin and celebrex are all excellent for controlling arthritic pain an as anti-inflammatory. All should be given by syringe, because the dosage is critical.

Also, I have given my Jasper, who has severe arthritis a sleep cage. The cage has no perches and a thick dog bed for her to sleep on. It gives her poor arthritic feet and legs at least 1/2 day of relief from standing on them. I put a few toys in it so she has something to play with.
 

sunnysmom

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You may also want to look into some rope perches. They're easier on a bird's feet. And in addition to what @Hankmacaw said, you can add senior nutriberries to her diet. They contain glucosamine and other supplements that are good for older birds. I was also recently told that cinnamon is good too but I haven't had a chance to research it yet. Although I believe you should give Ceylon cinnamon only to birds not other kinds.
 

iamwhoiam

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Check into tart cherry juice. Just a very small amount. Ask your vet about that. It's beneficial when it comes to arthritis. Look into getting platforms for her. You can wrap those with vet wrap to make them more comfortable.
 

JennKerry

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Thank you everyone for all the helpful tips. So today I put her heat lamp on her cage where she’s roosting. She got up close so it must have been helping. I put a call into our mobile vet and waiting to hear back. I’d prefer not dragging her out in the cold. Not to mention, now living in DE, my avian vet is all the way in Marlton NJ. A nice 2 hr drive.
I’m waiting for her flat perches to arrive. I bought 2 from Petco yesterday that she likes.

I also put them real close to the bottom so all she has is a small step down off to eat and drink. Both food and water are right there. No stepping up on a dish. I put her food in a small Tupperware type lid. It’s so sad to see her dragging her leg behind her. But I’m definitely gonna get her meds to take down the swelling. I hope I can get an apt by this weekend
 

fanta2424

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anna
Hello everyone
My cockatiel Woo has developed arthritis in one foot and has been having a hard time getting around. She’s now 24 and she’s my only remaining bird. Her cage mates have lived their life expectancy and she’s now alone. I’m happy for that since there won’t be any issues with her being bullied. She was in a huge cage until yesterday because this past week she’s been falling off her perches. So I bought her a 30x18x18 cage so she’s close to the ground. I put poster board paper along the bottom grate so she can walk on it. I also invested in all new perches are flat.

Is there a water additive I can use that’ll dispense an anti inflammatory or pain reducer? She isn’t one that likes to be handled in that way to administer drops. As it is I got torn up yesterday moving her to the new cage. I can hold her but the moment I try to hold her down the nightmare begins. I really don’t want to stress her especially since she’s old and in pain.

Any advice would be great!
Thanks everyone!

Hello,

It's so nice to see she has someone to care for her. It can be hard for us as the care givers but I think it does make a great difference for them. I have my Elliott with arthritis due to past trauma at his previous place. Have used painkillers such as metacam, loxicom in the past and currently using tramadol but trying to avoid it. I saw a big difference in his behaviour after adding platforms instead of perches, adding warmth lamps, raising room temp 1-2 degrees celsius and keeping humidity low but at appropriate levels. I do use rope perches so he can chose what he prefers and have all his food and toys near platforms. My vet allowed me to keep painkillers and use as needed, so that was good but I avoid them. After the warmth lamp he started playing. Also, I found online some wood platforms for parrots that warm up, unfortunately I cannot use them due to the size of the cage but you might be able to find something similar that might help Woo. There are also some foods that help arthritis like some specific seeds and peppers. If she's dragging the leg, painkillers might help. Elliot drags his leg on some days and this is when I administer meds and it helps a lot. I think it would help visit a good avian. And the temp... even a degree up makes a difference, I normally used to have it around 22 degrees Celsius but found out that Elliot prefers it at 23 or 24. So I try to find the right balance for his benefit and others. Elliott hated being handled but after I started the painkillers he calmed down and he actually got kind of tame.
You are doing an amazing job there.

Wish you the best.
 

JennKerry

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So it’s been a few weeks since this started. I bought her a flight cage but she stressed over that. So I built a new floor platform so she can’t fall anymore. Her cage that was HUGE is now a mere 18” tall and flat perches placed less than an inch from the floor.

She has a heat lamp on her 24/7 which she is always near. The house is 70 most of the time so it’s not like I keep the house cold.

I took her to the vet on dec 9th and they concluded she has the onset of arthritis with narrowing of the arteries and isn’t getting sufficient blood supply down the leg. They sent me home with 3 heart and vessel meds along with an anti inflammatory with pain killer. Great right? Ugh....I wish

Here’s the dilemma. I towel her, give her the meds then she checks out for the rest of the day and goes into a trauma depression. Mind you, these are twice daily meds. So she’s double traumatized.
So, ok let’s try and trick her with putting it in food. I put some in pound cake and it worked....one time. She got wise to it and wouldn’t eat it. Tried other foods and she refuses to eat it.
Now it’s gotten to the point she’s beginning to refuse her own food that I didn’t put meds in. She thinks I’ve contaminated that as well!
On top of that, now she’s scared of me. She try’s to run or attempt to bite me when I walk past. In the attempt to help her, I’ve made the problem worse! She isn’t getting better. The meds aren’t helping. And I’ve now made her begin to hate me and not trust me or the food I give her. I’m waiting on a call back from the vet. I feel terrible about this
 

fanta2424

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So it’s been a few weeks since this started. I bought her a flight cage but she stressed over that. So I built a new floor platform so she can’t fall anymore. Her cage that was HUGE is now a mere 18” tall and flat perches placed less than an inch from the floor.

She has a heat lamp on her 24/7 which she is always near. The house is 70 most of the time so it’s not like I keep the house cold.

I took her to the vet on dec 9th and they concluded she has the onset of arthritis with narrowing of the arteries and isn’t getting sufficient blood supply down the leg. They sent me home with 3 heart and vessel meds along with an anti inflammatory with pain killer. Great right? Ugh....I wish

Here’s the dilemma. I towel her, give her the meds then she checks out for the rest of the day and goes into a trauma depression. Mind you, these are twice daily meds. So she’s double traumatized.
So, ok let’s try and trick her with putting it in food. I put some in pound cake and it worked....one time. She got wise to it and wouldn’t eat it. Tried other foods and she refuses to eat it.
Now it’s gotten to the point she’s beginning to refuse her own food that I didn’t put meds in. She thinks I’ve contaminated that as well!
On top of that, now she’s scared of me. She try’s to run or attempt to bite me when I walk past. In the attempt to help her, I’ve made the problem worse! She isn’t getting better. The meds aren’t helping. And I’ve now made her begin to hate me and not trust me or the food I give her. I’m waiting on a call back from the vet. I feel terrible about this

Sometimes they do see us like we are the enemies but you don't need to feel terrible cause you have been absolutely amazing and you are doing everything. What type of lamp do you use that you can have it on 24/7? I think I need to get the same... I had a tiel who had this temperament and it is really hard but we do what we can. For how long does she have to take the meds for? Maybe the vet can indeed give you some ideas how to make her eat... what foods she is able to eat.. not many can resist millet but it's not recommended for everyone... Some medication has really terrible taste and not every medication works for everyone with arthritis, you might need to try alternative meds, the vet will know. I have parrots who are scared or try to bite me without having ever done anything to them, one of them I haven't even touched him and we've been together 4+ years but still... you can't control their reaction, she is in pain and cannot think clearly but she loves you.
 

JennKerry

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This bulb is just a ceramic heat lamp. She had a daylight heat bulb but it burned out. So I use this instead. I was gonna buy a new daylight one but I’m on the fence. Those are $25 and if she drops tomorrow....

luckily, she isn't my first bird. I’ve had birds my whole life and had to medicate the others. They were easy! This one, not so much. Her meds are already sweetened. The problem is, woo has never been a sweet eater. She loves salty foods which is a problem when it comes to meds.
 

Lady Jane

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Most anti-inflammatories are not so good for kidneys in humans. Is it that way for birds @Hankmacaw ? I so wish I could take them. I hope your cockatiel gets comfortable.
 

JennKerry

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Thank you, me too! I’m just doing what I can to make her comfortable. I know I’m not gonna cure her issue. I just want her comfortable
 

Fuzzy

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You could try some natural remedies like:
Avitech do an Arthritis Formula (not sure how effective it is - I used to use it for Chico who has bad arthritis)
Turmeric (some companies do Curcumin capsules and the Curcumin inside is pretty tasteless - I mix it with a little yogurt for Chico)
Ginger, Chilli are also anti-inflammatory
Antioxidants (found in fresh fruit and veggies) are anti-inflammatory
Omega 3 is anti-inflammatory - found in freshly ground Flaxseed or flax oil, or walnuts
You could try CBD oil for pain relief (I give Chico one drop of 4% each morning with his yogurt)
Chico also gets tart cherry juice each night with some DMG and Milk Thistle
Heat is good as you are doing.

Since the foot is swollen are they sure it is arthritis and not gout? Did they do a uric acid count (blood test)?
 

JennKerry

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The vet discussed the blood test for gout but also mentioned she doesn’t have yellowing joints and her foot isn’t swollen. Initially I thought it was, but that was just from what the early onset of arthritis that was shown in her xrays. That wasn’t a main concern. Plus, being that she’s so old, they don’t want to put her through a battery of tests. Cause really, what’s the point? She’s no spring chicken that’s under 10 yrs old. I’m not getting years more by putting her through this. So say it’s a liver thing or a kidney thing. She has hardening of the arteries, these are all old age problems. I’m not curing anything age related.
I wish I could get Woo to openly eat all those things! My conure, sure! Cockatoo, no problem! Woo?? Oh hell no! Lol! She’s as picky as they come. I’ve racked my brain the last few weeks for new ways to come at her
 

Hankmacaw

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You may not be able to see it, but the heart meds are doing a lot of good. My bird has been on meds for her heart and for her atherosclerosis for 18 years and had she not been she would have died 18 years ago.

She has been on arthritis meds for the same length of time. She was on metacam for 12/14 years - no damage to the kidneys. She was on Tramadol for awhile but the Dr. didn't like that it is an opioid and is addictive. She has been o gabapentin and Celebrex for the last few years for pain (every day - never miss one) and tha t combination does a good job. She has had two toes amputated because the pain could not be controlled.
 

JennKerry

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I wish she was as good as all these other birds with taking medication. She is such a hysterical bird! When I pick her up in the towel...or even without the towel and it’s just my hand holding her wings down she FLIPS OUT! Then that’s when she goes into shut down mode. Just checks out. It breaks my heart! I believe that these meds do help but the stress she goes through taking the meds negates the progress of her getting better.
I have lost sleep over this. I really have. I lie in bed thinking about her, how to help her get better and not stress her. I’m sorry guys, this is so sad for me
 

Lady Jane

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Some birds do seem anxious. Your anxiety transfers to your bird. So if you are sad and anxious best not to be with her then. Try some stress relief efforts for yourself like yoga, music, art or what ever you enjoy before approaching your bird. Play upbeat music when you are with her. Birds are very perceptive.
 

Hankmacaw

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Onsior is similar to Celebrex and requires only one injection every 10 days.
 

JennKerry

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there’s definitely a transference of energy with animals. I work from home, so I’m with her all day everyday. I never alter my mood or energy when picking her up into something stress inducing. I approach her the same way now as I would have when I would be taking her out of the cage on a normal day. I talk and sing to her, (even change the words of a song to put her name in it) how silly! But she would whistle back when I’d sing to her.
Since I’ve started medicating, she won’t talk to me anymore. And certainly won’t sing! But the moment I say “daaaaddy” she screams for dad! Really woo! You get happy when your dad comes home! Dad doesn’t even spend time with her. She’s mine not my husbands! BUT, dad doesn’t medicate her. So there you go! She’s mad at me! I even kiss her and hold her when it’s done. Oh she doesn’t want any of that!
 

enigma731

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Can you make Dad share med duties with you? Or use time with Dad as a treat after she gets the meds? It sounds like you need to build a more positive association with the meds somehow.
 

Fuzzy

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Medicating smaller birds is difficult. :hug8: I had to medicate my budgie twice a day for his last 5 years. He had gout and arthritis so was on Allopurinol which eventually damaged his liver. I used to make a fuss of him during and after the procedure (always reinforcing for him) and in the end he would just jump into my hand for his meds. Like enigma said, can you provide some sort of reinforcement straight afterwards? Would she take a treat from you then or is she too traumatised? How long have you been medicating her?

Don't give up offering fresh veggies and fruit. It is never too late to improve on diet. My budgie, Boo used to love cherries and it was amazing that when they were in season his uric acid levels would go down. Back then we didn't have tart cherry juice. Would your tiel take cherry juice offered from a teaspoon or a shot glass? Cherry juice helps with gout, but may be effective with arthritis too. You could coat her seed with a drop or two of flax oil if she eats seed?

Some remedies you can just add to water. The Avitech Arthritis Formula is 8 drops per 8oz of water. You can add Nature's Answer alcohol free Milk Thistle tincture (to help detox the liver) to water - Boo used to love it as it was sweet with the glycerine. But you need to be sure she is drinking - perhaps also provide a source of plain water at the beginning.

Some meds you can nebulize.... it might be worth asking your vet if anything she is on could be given via a nebulizer. Of course some are more effective by mouth.

This was Boo having his meds:

 
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