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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 4 year old boy Jack has been sleepy for a few days, but active and well.
Yesterday he stopped eating so I got him to the avian vet as quickly as possible.

She taken blood tests and says he’s anemic, and his kidneys and liver aren’t working properly. She says it could be age related (but he’s young?) or secondary to an infection (but the rest of the flock are fine?). She wants me to put him to sleep.

I guess I’m just struggling to accept he can go from flying/mating/eating yesterday to being ready to die today.
I asked if there was any options in terms of palliative care, to give me a few weeks with him, and she said it would be unfair to him.

I dont want to make him suffer, but I also don’t want to feel like I didn’t try all I could. Money is not a barrier for me.

what should or can I do? Please help, I feel so lost
 

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Was it an avian vet that you saw? Since the vet said it could be secondary to an infection why not try some antibiotics? Did the bloodwork reveal a high white blood cell count which would be an indication of an infection? Can you get a second opinion from another vet? Is he home with you or did he remain in the hospital, if he is home has his condition changed from yesterday?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Was it an avian vet that you saw? Since the vet said it could be secondary to an infection why not try some antibiotics? Did the bloodwork reveal a high white blood cell count which would be an indication of an infection? Can you get a second opinion from another vet? Is he home with you or did he remain in the hospital, if he is home has his condition changed from yesterday?
Thanks for the quick reply.
Yes, she’s an avian and exotic specialist. There are others at the practice (including the owner) who I could ask for a second opinion, although I suspect they’ll back up their own team.

I called back and asked about WBC count. She says she thinks it was a past infection, and there’s no sign of a current one.(?)

I’ve asked her to give him 24 hours of treating him with everything we can. She was dismissive, and said we’d have to have “a hard conversation tommorrow”, but she also agreed he’s not in any pain and is content and sleeping, so there’s no real harm.
So she’s agreed to give him medications for liver and kidney function, fluids and “more regular supportive feeding” (both of which I thought she was already doing??). She says there’s no treatment she can give for the anemia.

I just think - he was happy and flying around yesterday. What if we can get him back to that level of function for a short while? Isn’t that worth trying? I feel like she wouldn’t have been nearly so quick to give up on him if he’s been a dog instead of a budgie.

I’d been monitoring him all week and he was eating and grooming etc without problem until yesterday when he lost interest in food, and then started to get weak and sleepy and cold. My hope is, getting his nutrients and blood levels back on track might make him comfortable enough to come home, and at least be with his flock for his final few days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you - this is truly helpful.
Interesting to note that many of the key indicators for kidney and liver function are also impacted by starvation and/or dehydration. Makes me wonder how his not eating for at least 18 hours prior (aside from a tiny amount I managed to syringe feed) may have impacted his results, and whether they may look slightly better after a day or two of supported nutrition. I can hope, right?

Thank you for your understanding and gentle encouragement. It’s such a delicate balance to tenaciously advocate for our pets without losing sight of reality and their best interests at all times. For now, I feel like I’ve chosen the right side of that line.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
A little update, mostly for anyone who finds this thread via search in future and might be in a similar situation!

The vet just called this morning and said Jack is looking a bit brighter today. He’s eating again, although not really enough to sustain him on its own at the moment, so they’re continuing with supplementary tube feeds and fluids + medications.

She asked if I’d like to bring him home today, or to keep him in over the weekend so they could build him up a bit more with the feeds. Obviously it’s a bit of a gamble either way - he could go over the weekend, and then I’ll have lost my chance to have him home - but in the end I’ve chosen for them to keep him in as I think it gives him the best chance to get strong and gain a little weight back. I’m going to visit tomorrow and bring all his favourite treats to try and tempt him to eat more, too.

She said hopefully on Monday I can bring him home and administer his medications myself, and do supplemental syringe feeds if needed to keep his nutrition up. She said it will just be a question of seeing how he does - some birds do well on this, and some don’t. But at least now he has a chance.

Considering yesterday she was 100% for euthanasia, this feels like a huge win. So proud of my little fighter, and keeping everything crossed that we’ll be able to have a few precious more days together at home with his flock.
 

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That's good to hear. I think you did the right thing by leaving him at the vet, I have been faced with the same decision and I know how much you want him home but at the vet you can be assured that he will get the nutrition he needs from the tube feeding.
 

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I'm glad you asked the questions here before moving forward with euthanasia for Jack.
It seems the vet was awfully hasty in her decision that he needed to "be put to sleep" without taking the time to try treating the illnesses and I'm sorry you've had to experience that. I'm hoping Jack will do well with the tube feeding and you will be able to bring him home on Monday.
As long as you can care for Jack and he's enjoying a good quality of life then I think that is definitely the way to go.
Please keep us posted in this thread with regard to how things progress.
Blessings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you both, so much. It’s hard to explain to the non-birdie people in my life just how much this little guy means to me, so really good to have some understanding support here.

I’m visiting him tomorrow and have packed a box of all his favourite treats! I’m so nervous, but hopeful. Really hope I can see an improvement in him since I dropped him off - then i’ll know I made the right decision for him.

I’m so glad I came and asked the questions here too, FaeryBee. Thanks again for the support, and I’ll definitely keep this thread updated.

Fingers crossed I’ll be back with something positive after visiting time tomorrow! x
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Photo below - a special little snuggle from today’s visit!
He was noticeably brighter and more interested in food. Ran right up my arm and onto his favourite shoulder spot and chirped away in greeting!

Still very very sleepy - he’d nibble a bit of millet, then snooze. Wake up for a spinach leaf, then back to sleep. But sleep is healing! And still having him asleep on my shoulder is so wonderful right now, my heart could just burst.

I’m prepping for his hopeful return on Monday - cozy reptile heat mats, all the recommended supplements and herbal treatments, low-protein diet foods (for the liver issues) and formula & hydration options for if he still needs additional nourishment. I also got some platform perches, although his balance and grip is much better again now. I’m basically a one-woman bird hospital here now, complete with my daughter’s barbie ambulance 😂

My plan is to nurse him so lovingly and thoroughly that he defies all expectations. I’m looking hopefully forward to many more sleepy snuggles to enjoy in the coming days/weeks. (But no more spinach, as I’ve been informed it’s not good for poorly kidneys. Learning so much! )
 

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Such a sweet picture, he is a beautiful bird, I am sure he felt better sitting in his favorite spot. Sounds like you have everything covered for when you bring him home.(y)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Jack came home today! He is SO much brighter and has even gained a little weight. He spent a long long time grooming all that formula feed out of his feathers, and then ate the most food I think I’ve ever seen him have in one sitting! Cloud the cockatiel sat next to him singing “the Addams family” the whole time in celebration 😂. He’s not totally his old self, but he’s definitely not acting like a bird at death’s door either. He was so pleased to be home and went around visiting all his favourite spots, foraging for seeds and inspecting everything was where it should be!

One odd thing is he can no longer fly properly. He just plops down like a clipped bird. The vet mentioned muscle wastage so I’m assuming it’s down to that + 5ish days in a small cage. Will see if that improves at all.

Also, both female birds, including his mate, were a bit aggressive towards him. I’ve moved them to a different cage for now, and he’s snuggled up in the aviary next to the cockatiel, who loves him obsessively. When I last peeped in the ‘tiel was carefully pulling out the last of the formula mess off his face feathers with a very gentle and loving beak 🐦💕.

I’ve been told to monitor his weight and add additional syringe feedings if needed (he was hand reared so this will be manageable). He also has a few daily medications to take. I’m doing a lot of reading on liver and kidney friendly diets - lowish protein, potassium and phosphorus seems to be key.
It’s an uncertain future - I haven’t asked for a time scale for how long he has left, because I don’t think anyone can really say anyway! Every minute together is a bonus, and I’m so happy I didn’t let him go too soon. Thank you for your support and guidance here. I hope some day, someone in a similar situation can find this thread, and get the hope they need to fight for their little birdie too.

I’ll continue to keep this thread posted, as Jack settles back in at home x

——

Extra info for anyone with a similar problem looking to research for their pet (like I was!):

I requested a copy of his blood results, and they show his AST as being off the chart. Reference range is 30-400, and his was 2304!! This is most commonly associated with liver issues, but can also be a sign of general muscle wastage, from what I can understand on Google. I still have some questions about this, so I’m going to speak to another Avian specialist via phone consultation later this week.
His phosphorus and uric acid were also at the higher end of “normal”, which is indicative of kidney involvement. Nothing else shown as tested, and these were all before treatment of any kind. Tests have not been repeated.

He’s on a couple of daily medications - milk thistle, for liver, and Fortekor, which is for his kidneys. I’ve also been given some Emeraid for formula feeding if needed, to boost his daily calorie intake.
I’m adding in some dandelion root and Guardian Angel powder, and working out his diet as mentioned above. The vet stressed that the most important thing was to keep him eating, and not to make any dietary changes that might affect that. Luckily, Jack’s always loved veggies so it’s not too tricky for us x
 

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So happy to hear he is home and eating! I have had birds in the hospital and they will not eat there but will once they are home they will, I think just being hospitalized is stressful enough to make some birds not eat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
So happy to hear he is home and eating! I have had birds in the hospital and they will not eat there but will once they are home they will, I think just being hospitalized is stressful enough to make some birds not eat.
Yes, I think you’re right! Plus there’s the magic of the flock mentality. When one eats, they all decide to eat! In hospital, there’s no social cues, and often no natural daylight either to cue them in that it’s time.

I can’t tell you how happy I am to have him home.
 

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Thank you so much for the updates! I love the picture of Jack snuggling on your shoulder. 💙
So happy your little man is home and eating. The females may have to be housed away from Jack for quite some time.
Often budgies will attack other budgies they perceive to be "weaker" than themselves.
It's wonderful that Cloud loves Jack and is taking good care of him.
Jack may regain his ability to fly over time. If not, he will be able to adapt. I have one budgie that can no longer fly and she does just fine.
I have ladders for her and she uses them plus climbs the sides of the cage to get to where she wants to go.

PS Sorry for the delay in my response. I haven't been on-line the last few days as I've been dealing with other matters instead.

Please continue to keep us posted on Jack's progress as you have time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thank you so much for the updates! I love the picture of Jack snuggling on your shoulder. 💙
So happy your little man is home and eating. The females may have to be housed away from Jack for quite some time.
Often budgies will attack other budgies they perceive to be "weaker" than themselves.
It's wonderful that Cloud loves Jack and is taking good care of him.
Jack may regain his ability to fly over time. If not, he will be able to adapt. I have one budgie that can no longer fly and she does just fine.
I have ladders for her and she uses them plus climbs the sides of the cage to get to where she wants to go.

PS Sorry for the delay in my response. I haven't been on-line the last few days as I've been dealing with other matters instead.

Please continue to keep us posted on Jack's progress as you have time.
Ah thank you. Yes, that makes sense about attacking weaker members - pecking order and all that! Fortunately Cloud the cockatiel is the ultimate bodyguard, and refuses to leave Jack’s side. The girls are getting a lot of hissing and warning beak action whenever they try and get close!

My female budgies were both clipped when I first got them, so I had a series of ramps and sticks around the room to help them out.

Jack can still flutter enough to get about to most places, but I’m going to build him a ramp up to the big window perch where they all hang out the most.

The headlines from Jack’s first full day at home:

• Ate well in the morning, appetite waned over the afternoon. According to my husband’s fancy coffee scales he’s gained 1g, but different scales and all that. Will have a better idea tomorrow:

• Remembered my secret weapon for getting him to eat - if I’m eating something, he just HAS to have it 😂. So bonus calories from apple, oat cakes and butternut squash this afternoon, after he started refusing his own food.

• Haven’t seen him drink at all - but then, it’s rare to see any of them drinking I find! I’ve been dipping his greens in water before offering and syringed a supplemental 1ml of water at bedtime to be safe.

• Lots and lots of preening and snoozing in the sun. Wants to sit on my shoulders above all else, and runs away to avoid going back in the cage 😂

• I’ve become a mad woman who counts his poops.

• The Aloe Detox formula I ordered from the US has arrived. No idea if it’s overhyped woo or genuinely able to help, but in the spirit of no stone unturned I’m adding this to some of his water feedings.

He is warm, safe, medicated and fed. Tomorrow’s goal - more supplementary feedings, more kisses, and build him those ramps!
 

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So glad the day went well. I would not encourage much activity as he needs to focus his energies on healing, I think sitting in the sun and on your shoulder sounds great for both of you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
256717


Well.... we learned gavage feeding today! Was hoping to avoid this, as frankly I find it terrifying, but he’s just not drinking enough, and once dehydration hit, his appetite disappeared too. He was a full gram lighter today than yesterday, and just sitting in the bottom corner of their (open) cage.

In desperation, I gave him a tentative ml of water at lunchtime via crop tube, and within an hour his appetite was back! Chomping on seeds for about ten solid minutes, barely coming up for air!

I have the gavage-feeding schedule he was following at the vets (I took a picture before we left!), so I’m being guided by that. They were doing 4x a day, but he is eating better now, so I’m just going to try 2x for now and see how we go.

To be clear, I’m in NO WAY advocating anyone tries this for themselves. I think we all know it’s a very risky procedure - but in Jack’s case, it was a calculated risk that I felt was worth taking. He’s very tame - the vet actually commented on how easily he takes it. Also, I have a background in feeding & swallowing for humans, which gave me an odd sort of confidence somehow.

I’m still terrified. I’ve still got no idea if I’m doing the right thing.
But for as long as he continues to fight, and show me he wants to be here, then I’ll keep doing everthing I can. I feel like that’s the least I owe him, after 4 years of such love.
I hope you guys can understand xxx
 
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