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Help me help my lovebird (plucking, diarrhea, red suffusion)

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Help me help my lovebird (plucking, diarrhea, red suffusion)

Postby kokothebirb » Thu Apr 08, 2021 2:06 am

To preface there's no avian vets in my country. No vets do a blood test/x-ray or fecal test. They just prescribe you the same 3 antibiotics (chlortetracycline, sulfadimidine and enrocin) and send you off without a care.

My lovebird is 4 and a half years old.
Her diet for the past year has been a mix of seeds and oats (no sunflower/safflower) in the morning and mash of veggies for lunch: carrot, broccoli, corn, occasionally spinach. And she gets apples and bananas every couple of days. Before that she was on a seed diet.
Recently I have started giving her pellets but she hates them.

She's been hormonal for 3 and a half years and laid eggs 2 and a half years ago.
She has a really bad nesting problem where she has multiple spots in the house where she tries to nest. Even tho I've been keeping her away from them and letting her out in another room she hasn't grown out of the behaviour. As well as regurgitating on some of her toys (which I have removed).

She has an ongoing plucking problem for 6 months now. I found a blood feather on the ground and took a picture of it in October because I had no idea what it was but I didn't know she had plucked it herself. I noticed that she was when she started looking a little bald. (Mid february so almost 2 months ago) It's on the neck area behind her head. Images wont display fully so I've posted them as links:

Some days she plucks a blood feather or two, some days none. There are days where she has plucked 15+. (I've been keeping a log for a month now and it's not on any particular day) On march 2nd probably around 15, days in between 3-4. Then on march 12th another fit of plucking out about 15 feathers. Then it decreased to 1-2 per day some days 3 until this weekend when it was probably around 15+ again.

Things I've tried/changes I've made:
Started adding vitamins to her water.
Adding in pellets to her diet (she hates them and only way she eats them is when I mix them into her mash and she ingests them by accident because it's so sticky)
Got her new toys/changed cage location.
Buying a new seed mix in case the old one was spoiled
Plucking collar which hated it and tore it to shreds as well as ingested a fiber
(the same day - March 14th she almost died due to aspiration and I had to give her CPR, she was put on sulfadimidine as an antibiotic but didn't take the whole course as I thought it was making things worse, her poop was really dark almost black and dry)
Acv in water

Other symptoms I've noticed recently:
Watery poops/diarrhea (sometimes it's just straight up urine)
Bubbly poops (even on days I don't give her veggies that can cause gas but I've read it can take up to a week for them to go back to normal and I haven't tried to go without them for that long)
Developing red feathers (back of her head above the neck, back/wings, feet, below chest)
They're not fully red but the base of the feather is starting to develop red pigment. Looks like the beginning of a red suffusion. I can't get good pictures of the feathers on her body but here's one of the back of her head:

This weekend (Saturday) I had to go on a trip and couldn't find a bird sitter so I brought her along. It was an almost 3h ride.
She plucked in the car and pretty much the whole day.

On Sunday we had an emergency vet visit. Vet gave us ivermectin to apply topically and chlortetracycline to put in water.
I applied a drop of the ivermectin to her neck area and gave her the antibiotic.

The next morning (monday) she was sleeping in late which worried me because she usually can't wait to be uncovered. As soon as I did she started vomiting. She vomited twice and didn't want to eat or drink.
I convinced her to drink a bit (of the water with the antibiotic) and to eat some banana (her favorite)
and a mix of seeds/oats. Before the car ride back home I gave her some shredded carrot/broccoli because she was refusing to drink water and figured high water content food would be good for her.
She hasn't vomited since but her poops have been very small. She also plucked on the car ride and when we got home.

Tuesday and Wednesday she was lethargic but eating. Refused to drink much of the antibiotic. I've been giving her veggies and fruit high in water content and normal water because I didn't want her to get dehydrated.

Thursday morning (today) she was sleeping in later than usual. When I uncovered her she started vomiting right away but she had nothing to vomit. And she had plucked 3 feathers overnight. Today would've been the 5th day of the antibiotic course but I'm going to stop giving it to her because I'm now convinced she's vomiting because of it.
I hate giving her antibiotics blindly when the veterinarians don't even know if they could help her because they don't even bother diagnosing her with anything.

At first I was thinking her plumage is turning red due to a high vitamin A veggie diet + the supplemental vitamins.
But because of the other symptoms (the diarrhea and bubbly poops) I've been doing a lot of reading and I'm thinking she might have polyuria and liver disease due to an underlying cause which we have no way of determining. I'm at a loss and I don't know what to do.
Diet wise I'm still trying to get her to eat pellets and will continue to make her chop.

If you've read all of this thank you and thank you for trying to help.
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 2
Types of Birds Owned: lovebird
Flight: Yes

Re: Help me help my lovebird (plucking, diarrhea, red suffusion)

Postby kokothebirb » Thu Apr 08, 2021 2:45 am

I also want to add that she's been digging in a corner of the bottom of her cage. From what I've read this is a hormonal behavior. She doesn't have a paper lining anymore because she would shred it and try make a nest. This has been ongoing for a while. I don't even know when it really started. It's probably been months now :( and I just noticed that the paint from the cage bars in that corner is pretty much gone. Could it be heavy metal poisoning?

I'm so desperate I want to help her the best I can but vets here are useless unless it comes to taking your money and giving you antibiotic without even looking at your bird. :(
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 2
Types of Birds Owned: lovebird
Flight: Yes

Re: Help me help my lovebird (plucking, diarrhea, red suffusion)

Postby Pajarita » Thu Apr 08, 2021 10:47 am

Oh, geez, poor little thing! Yes, she could have metal poisoning but if this has been going on for so many months and it had been metal poisoning from day one, she would be dead by now and would have had seizures. In any case, you cannot use her cage again - she needs a new one.

Now... so many things to address... You need to change her diet, give her ONLY organic gloop (look up the recipe in this same section) and leafy greens for breakfast and, for dinner, just one single teaspoonful of a good quality finch mix (you need to lower the protein level dramatically because the red suffusion is a clear sign of liver malfunction)
You need to put her at a strict (and I do mean super-duper strict!) solar schedule with a two full hours of dawn and dusk because a human light schedule, plus the high protein diet, is causing her hormonal behavior.
Do not use ivermectin again - this should NEVER be used on a sick or weak bird and I don't know why the vet prescribed it.
Put her on liver and kidney cleansers immediately: milk thistle, dandelion root and SamE (later you can change this to plain methionine) - the red suffusion, watery poops, polyuria (too much urine) are all symptoms of advanced liver malfunction. Continue with the vitamins and make sure they are the right kind (powder soluble in water) and that they have D3 and calcium (I am surprised she has not become eggbound).

Do NOT take her out anywhere! It's way too stressful for her and she is in no shape to be stressed out - quite the contrary, she needs to be given everything necessary to reduce stress so, if she wants to nest, let her do it! She is super hormonal (lone birds do not lay eggs unless they are super overly hormonal) and trying to keep her from nesting is making things worse because preventing a bird to do what their body is demanding they do does not help it, it only makes things worse (makes them super anxious). Just make sure you do not remove the eggs she lays (because, if you do, she will just lay more) and that she has access to a cuttlebone as well as getting the vitamin/mineral supplement and, if she lays an egg, give her a dosage of an avian calcium supplement (they are liquid and have calcium and D3) every time she does - but always keep the vitamin/mineral supplement in her water too because after 4 years of not getting any, she has to be almost depleted by now.

Now, this is not going to make a change in a couple of days or even a week or a month but, if you keep at it and she doesn't have any other underlying undiagnosed condition, she will slowly get better and, when she does, please take her to an avian vet (ask at the zoo and wildlife rehabiltators, they know vets that treat exotics) and get a complete blood test (metal poisoning, too).

And, if you love her -which I can tell you do- please get her a male companion (not a baby, mind you, an adult). These birds are called lovebirds for a reason (they are called 'Inseparables' in Spanish, French and Italian because they are inseparable) and it's because nature evolved them to be super pair oriented - they are simply never happy or completely healthy unless they are in pairs so keeping a single one is... well, not kind to the poor thing.
Norwegian Blue
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 18049
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

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