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HELP! What do I do?

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HELP! What do I do?

Postby Galah44Sarah » Tue Nov 01, 2016 5:23 am

Hello,
Please no judgement as I am trying my best and I'm really concerned.
Back in August my 3year old Galah was attacked by a dog that got into the house (he wanted to say hello and play being free roaming - the dog wanted to eat him)
Initially he had large wounds under his wings and around his legs and was unable to stand or move anything apart from his head. Rush to the nearest vets, x rays proved thankfully no broken bones and he was put in an oxygen tank to calm him.
I hand fed him high protein baby feed and cleaned his wounds, and despite the vets wanting to put him to sleep, he has defied the odds and is ALMOST 100% back to health.
I am home all day apart from school runs and he is never alone for more than an hour or so a few times a week.
What is upsetting me about Tango, he is plucking all the feathers from where his wounds have healed and I don't know how to stop him. He will sometimes pull a blood feather in front of me and almost present it as a gift!
He is loving, always has been and is still playful and caring with everyone else too. He is not touching the feathers anywhere else.
Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thank you in advance!

Sarah and Tango
Galah44Sarah
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Re: HELP! What do I do?

Postby liz » Tue Nov 01, 2016 5:31 am

He could have itchy skin where it healed or be feeling twinges in that area. Give him more showers and spray or apply aloe to those areas. That is what I would try next. Just my 2 cents.
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Re: HELP! What do I do?

Postby Galah44Sarah » Tue Nov 01, 2016 5:42 am

Well the vet decided that the nerve damage in his legs was irreparable, but he has proved them wrong as he is sitting on my knee as the moment (still fiddling with his feathers).
He doesn't have perfect balance but is getting better with each passing week and is using his legs almost as much as he did before that awful day.
I have just ordered a shower perch for him to come in with me, he really dislikes the shower and hates being sprayed so it's quite difficult.
I have chickens and I know that they do an anti peck spray... Would aloe be preferable to something like that?
Galah44Sarah
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Gender: This parrot forum member is female
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Types of Birds Owned: Galah rose breasted cockatoo, budgerigar, quaker parakeet
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Re: HELP! What do I do?

Postby Wolf » Tue Nov 01, 2016 7:01 am

Feather plucking is a difficult problem to address, especially when it occurs in a species that is known for being more susceptible to doin it, such as Galahs and African Greys. It is very likely that Tango is plucking the feathers around the site of these injuries because it itches or because it still hurts or he thinks that it does. They problem with this behavior is that once the actual reason that it began has been eliminated that the bird has become accustomed to plucking these feathers and it has developed into a habit and once it develops into a habit all bets are off as to stopping the behavior on a permanent basis.

You could try distracting Tango from plucking his feathers while you are with him using a combination of telling him to stop and gently pushing his beak away from the area and while this may help while you are with him it does not address the issue while you are not with him. Perhaps you could make him a sort of sweater out of a sock that lets his wings be free for use but covers the area that he is plucking and sometimes what is referred to as a preening toy may help to some degree if you can get him to use it. I would also look at his diet and make certain that it does not contain any soy or soy products as there is a link between soy in a parrots diet and feather destructive behaviors.

I hope that at least some of this will prove useful to you and Tango, please keep us informed.
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Re: HELP! What do I do?

Postby Pajarita » Tue Nov 01, 2016 12:15 pm

Yes, a sweater or pants (kind of leggings with some sort of 'suspenders'?) might work or you can always try putting a collar on him (there are e-collars for birds but I think I would try the 'tube' or any other made out of material first - see here: https://www.birdsupplies.com/collections/bird-collars
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Re: HELP! What do I do?

Postby EllenD » Tue Nov 01, 2016 4:08 pm

First of all I'm so glad that you didn't listen to the vets and that you gave your bird a chance at life-sometimes we know better than the doctors do, and when we're talking about ending my baby's life I'm going to do everything I can to save him, as long as he's not suffering.

The reasons for his plucking have pretty much all been stated already, and I think the first step for you would to be narrowing down whether or not your bird is actually in physical pain, or whether it is a psychological issue, such as what Wolf said about him being used to plucking even though his actual pain or discomfort is gone. I don't know where your vet stands on trying to diagnose the cause of his plucking (if he wanted to euthanize him he may believe you're letting him suffer, which is ridiculous but it happens). As stated already I would try an aloe Vera spray (make sure it is bird safe) and see if it helps. If it stops him from plucking then you can assume that his wounds are still healing a bit and are itchy (August hasn't been that long ago). They have very thin, delicate, sensitive skin, so after a bad wound it may be quite a while before the areas no longer itch. Also, if he has any pin feathers coming in where he had pulled them out or where the dog pulled them out then that could be causing more discomfort to the areas. Either way the aloe spray should help that particular problem.

If you find it's not an itchy skin problem then I would next rule out whether or not he's still having actual pain, either from nerve damage or from residual bruising and tissue damage. Was he on prescription pain meds from the vet at the time of the incident? You stated that YOU cleaned out his wounds, not the vet, so I'm assuming the vet did very little but stabilize him. If he wasn't given any type of pain medication or antiinflammatory, like Metacam or even an opiate narcotic (which can be given to cockatoos) I would next try giving him the Metacam from the vet, if only to see if it stops his plucking. Again, if it does stop the plucking then you know that he's still having pretty bad physical pain. This may also aide in his leg and wing rehab. If he's no longer in any pain and has no more residual swelling he will not only feel better physically, but he'll be under much less mental stress. I'm not a big proponent of giving my birds or my dogs medications often, but there is a time and place for them, and if your bird was hurt badly enough that the vet wanted to euthanize him, then he must have been very badly hurt, and plucking could be his way of saying "I've had enough of this now daddy, I hurt!".

If all physical interventions fail to stop the plucking then it's fair to assume that he has developed, for lack of a better phrase, "a bad habit" that is bringing him some comfort in a weird way. The mention of an E collar is a very good idea, and one that has had some success. It allows the bird's feathers to grow back in (where there is no follicle damage), gives them a long amount of time without plucking, and hopefully by the time his new feathers grow in he'll have no more physical discomfort and he will have lost the bad habit. The "wing/leg sleeves" are the same idea. The problem with plucking is that they never allow themselves to heal completely, and it's a vicious cycle.

There are many things you can try, and if he's gotten this far then he's a tough bird and he has a family that loves and cares about him, so I believe he can beat this and get back to being himself. It will just take some patience and perseverance.
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Re: HELP! What do I do?

Postby Galah44Sarah » Tue Nov 01, 2016 4:50 pm

The vet tried his hardest but really didn't know what to do. I suggested the oxygen tank for him to calm down and insisted that he sit on my lap in the operating room so he didn't get more agitated. He was literally clinging to my thumb with his beak out of comfort (getting so emotional remembering it now!)
I insisted on atopic antibiotics and the metacam which he was surprised I knew about, which is why he agreed to letting me see how he went.
He went back a week later at the vet was not only astounded he had survived, but that I had managed to almost maintain his weight and I was charged £193 for the pleasure of telling him what I was going to do!
He slept in a box in the bed next to me for two weeks and the wounds dressed. I do have some metacam that I can give a go, it would be interesting. He does still stumble on his right leg (where he is doing the most of the plucking) from time to time. He can perch extremely well but everyone that saw him just after the attack (my neighbours, family, my neighbours family - he has LOTS of fans!) they cannot believe that he not only survived, but how well he has survived.

Yes, August wasn't really that long ago and muscle and nerve injuries do take time (I have my own going on and having to have my knee operated on because of it!) so I guess I can empathise with how he feels now I have thought of it a different way.

I just think he looks so beautiful with his gorgeous pink feathers that I hate to see him pulling them out!

OK, going to give the aloe a try, if not some metacam... And then a nice pretty collar or waistcoat for him! He is going to be unimpressed with the latter I know!

Thank you for the input guys, it's so nice to have a back up and try to continue doing the best for my baby boy (who has just learnt to say "I'm a REAL boy...!" just to make people laugh and love him even more! He even laughs along with them afterwards!
Galah44Sarah
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Gender: This parrot forum member is female
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Flight: Yes

Re: HELP! What do I do?

Postby Pajarita » Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:30 am

Be careful with meloxicam. It's a priceless help to birds BUT it's metabolized through the liver and, if taken too much or for too long, it destroys it so, although I use it, I only do it when absolutely necessary and would never consider using it long term because, when it comes to birds and their very delicate livers, long term could mean just a single month.

If there were no bone fractures and the damage was soft tissue, only, I would venture the guess that he is not doing it out of actual pain.

Also, make sure that the aloe vera spray is not a commercial one. Put cold water (never warm, warm water is bad for birds plumage AND skin because it strips the natural oils from them) in a spray bottle and just add a small splash of aloe vera juice (not gel!) from the inner filet (not the whole leaf!).

And, if at all possible, let us know how he does. We worry about all birds, not only our own and love to hear how they are doing.
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Re: HELP! What do I do?

Postby Galah44Sarah » Thu Nov 03, 2016 4:50 am

I had just typed a lengthy reply and Tango insisted on playing with my phone and it cancelled!! Grr! He's not lost his ability to be awkward!!
He had a dose of metacam yesterday and so far hasn't touched his pin feathers this morning. He is moulting at the moment so hopefully I can get at least some growth back.
Is anyone familiar with the anti inflammatory baytril? Would this be a better option than the metacam?

I swear he knows I'm typing about him as he is staring at the screen!!!
Galah44Sarah
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Gender: This parrot forum member is female
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Location: Staffordshire uk
Number of Birds Owned: 3
Types of Birds Owned: Galah rose breasted cockatoo, budgerigar, quaker parakeet
Flight: Yes

Re: HELP! What do I do?

Postby liz » Thu Nov 03, 2016 6:55 am

I think they can read our minds. I may have to wear an aluminum foil hat the next time I need to trim Myrtle's nails.

I use human food quality aloe for my birds. Mixing half with half water has been working. While preening themselves dry they get some of it in their systems.

My uncle was in a motor cycle accident when he was young. He lost an arm at the shoulder and felt pain in his arm from time to time. Phoenix came to me with part of his wing chopped off. He has healed but will shiver every once in a while. I think he is feeling pain flashes in his missing wing part. Even though he has that problem he is still a very happy bird an comes as close as he can without touching me to tell me secrets.
Tammy has a broken wing. She was missing an with all the feathers around we thought that Rachel's cat got her. I found her outside the next morning hanging on the chicken coop. She also has shivers every once in a while. That brings me to Gimpy. He has a missing leg and has twisted the other leg around to keep it under him. Some idiot trimmed the wings on a crippled bird and left him sitting like a lump. He has shiver now and then. By all rights these birds should never trust humans but enjoy a good tweet with me. Gimpy has even started zooming me when he flies. He always zooms me on the way to the food tray.
Phoenix prefers walking to flying since he has wing damage.. Tammy flies a little sideways with her broken wing. Gimpy has grown his feathers back and now is able to fly as good as any. He flies really good and enjoys it. To travel on the floor he has learned to flap and hop. If they were not coping and shivered a lot I might consider putting them down but these birds enjoy their lives even with some pain.
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