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He might benefit from using an electrolyte solution rather than water, I would ask the vet about it. Are you also giving him the Emeraid? I have watched my birds being gavage fed but I could not do it, kudos to you for your efforts. 馃専
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
256722


Today marks exactly one week since the vet told us to euthanise Jack, so I thought I鈥檇 post a little update 馃グ

Yes, Emeraid was prescribed by the vet, so he鈥檚 getting that too - I鈥檓 combining it with his fluids and other medications in one syringe, to limit the invasive was of having to keep tubing him. No idea if that鈥檚 allowed but just doing my best!
He takes the tube really well, and we鈥檙e getting much better at doing it quickly - it鈥檚 really much more stressful and frightening for me than it is for him! 馃檲

The extra hydration is making a big difference!
I鈥檓 weighing him morning and night, and we were on a very gentle upwards trend until this morning, when he seems to have lost a gram. So hard to be accurate with such small amounts, though!

In my frantic googling, I鈥檝e begun to wonder about the possibility of chronic zinc poisoning. It seems to fit all his symptoms, and the wire of his aviary looks exactly like the stuff I鈥檓 now seeing on google is typically coated with zinc 馃槪. It was sold as aviary panels, so I had no idea!! He鈥檚 a chewer, and climbs with his beak - am I crazy to think this could explain things?
The treatment for zinc poisoning is totally different to what he鈥檚 on and often has a good prognosis. Trying to reach my avian vets but they鈥檝e all gone home for the weekend and I don鈥檛 know if my weird google hunch can be classed as an emergency...?
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
The vet鈥檚 receptionist just called me back and read out his response message to me.
it said,

鈥淶inc toxicity is over-diagnosed on places like Facebook and Internet forums and is very unlikely. Regardless, to confirm we鈥檇 have to take a second blood test which is very stressful for the bird, and treatment would basically just be the same as he鈥檚 on now.鈥

I鈥檓 fuming! He鈥檚 not even denying all the symptoms fit - just making excuses not to assess or treat him. And treatment is not the same, as your link shows, Cody!
What kind of medical professional is so disinterested in finding the most accurate diagnosis? I have 3 other birds in that same aviary still who could be at risk of the same thing!

Looks like I鈥檒l be finding a new avian vet for a second opinion tomorrow.

I鈥檓 always open to being told I鈥檓 wrong, that there鈥檚 other indicators I鈥檓 missing, even that he鈥檚 too far advanced for treatment. But don鈥檛 just dismiss me as some Facebook budgie conspiracy theorist!! 馃槨
 

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That is certainly not the reply from the vet that I would want either. From what you have said about his treatment so far the comment that the treatment would be the same in not completely accurate, he is not currently receiving any chelating agents, correct? I would get a second opinion.
 

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This is the same vet that recommended Jack be euthanized and now he's dismissing your concern over zinc toxicosis? Definitely time to get a second opinion. I hope you are able to find a good Avian Vet who is willing to work with you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Thank you both. You鈥檙e absolutely right - I鈥檝e been calling around trying to find another avian vet who will see us, but currently they鈥檙e all saying we鈥檙e out of their catchment area or they鈥檙e not taking new patients due to COVID.
I鈥檝e arranged a telephone call with a different avian vet from my current practice tomorrow where I plan to let rip on ALL my thoughts about Jack鈥檚 treatment so far!

In happier news, Jack is continuing to improve day by day 馃グ. His appetite is really strong, and he鈥檚 eating a good mix of seed, wild grasses, dandelion leaves and fresh veggies with gusto.

This morning be fluttered over to steal my morning toast, so he鈥檚 definitely more his old self! Apparently a simple carb diet is a good thing for kidney disease, so he got a crust to chomp on, which made him very happy.

He鈥檚 so much more active, and keen to come out of the cage and spend time with the rest of the flock through the day. He tends to manage about 30 minutes of activity - socially eating, grooming and foraging, and when he starts to get tired he just takes himself back to his cage for a snooze!

He refuses to go in the small heated hospital cage we had him in before, so he鈥檚 now in his own private (zinc free) bigger cage - again, a happy return to his usual determined self!

I鈥檝e also noticed he鈥檚 heat-seeking a whole lot less - at first he had to sleep right beside the heater by his cage every night, but now he鈥檒l perch away from it and be fine.

I鈥檓 still tube feeding twice daily - morning with meds and fluids, evening with critical care formula and some diluted hand-feeding mix. We鈥檙e getting good at it now - quick and easy! The extra fluids are really important to help his kidneys out, and the critical care formula in particular seems to really helphis energy levels in the days.

He still needs to gain weight, so I鈥檓 squeezing extra calories into his diet wherever I can, and weighing him daily. Thats my current main goal - hydration and healthy calories, and taking it day by day.

Fingers crossed for another good day tomorrow! Lots of love and gratitude to you both for your support xx
 

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So glad to hear this and thanks for keeping us updated, I think about this little fighter every day. Great job!
 

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I'm so glad to hear Jack is doing well and pray his improvements continue! Let us know how your conversation with the other vet at the clinic goes. I'm VERY interested!
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 · (Edited)
Thank you for asking! 鉂 Super long post alert - hopefully it鈥檚 helpful to others though!

So, it ended up being the same vet who I鈥檇 dealt with on Friday who called me in the end. Not what I wanted, but it gave me the opportunity to dive right in and ask, 鈥渃an I ask what it was that made you so quick to determine my concerns about zinc poisoning were from an unreliable source, and does this mean you鈥檙e saying the zinc coated aviary poses no risk for Jack and all my other birds?鈥

Safe to say he SQUIRMED. And then, to be fair, apologised, ate his words from Friday and said it had been a long week and they see a lot of people who have read on forums about birds and toys with tiny amounts of zinc blah blah blah. He said aviary wire is the one place where they do worry about zinc toxicity and he agreed it was a likely cause of all of Jack鈥檚 symptoms.

Which, is actually good news! Because once you remove the source, the body begins to filter it out naturally, and can somewhat recover, it seems.

He explained that to test for zinc toxicity you need quite a lot of blood, which is risky to take from a bird as small and poorly as Jack. He also said that as I鈥檇 removed Jack from the aviary 10 days ago now, the levels may very well have already dropped past a point of giving a conclusive diagnosis anyway.

He VERY strongly advised me to scrub the whole thing down with acid and remove all the birds until this was done. He laboured this point a lot - I think covering his a*se for the fact that he was so dismissive on Friday.

I asked about chelation therapy, as the link you shared Cody mentioned, and I鈥檇 read about online. He compared it to chemotherapy in terms of its toll on the body, and said it鈥檚 not something they would ever start without a positive blood test confirmation - not like a 鈥渢ry it and see if it works鈥 med. He said, if it was lead poisoning then we would need it, but with zinc the body stores it in the soft tissues and so is v good at filtering it out naturally and excreting it once you remove the source.

He also talked about how the liver has a remarkable ability to heal itself, the kidneys not so much, and how Jack will probably need the kidney medication for the rest of his life. He said the biggest risk of this was to my relationship with Jack as he probably doesn鈥檛 like taking them - at which point I confessed I鈥檇 been crop feeding him, and we talked about how much formula to supplement alongside this to help him regain weight.

He suggested we re-test Jack鈥檚 blood IN SIX MONTHS TIME to see how his liver/kidney values are. Six months! 10 days ago they told me I had to euthanise him, so this was really wonderful to hear - just to be given that hope! I definitely would have cried if I wasn鈥檛 in my fierce bird mama fighting mode.

I also asked about a medication called l-carnitine that I鈥檇 read about that鈥檚 meant to be good for lowering AST levels (Jack鈥檚 worst blood result), and he said admitted he鈥檇 never used it, quickly googled it (oh, the irony 馃槀馃槀 - I wanted to say 鈥don鈥檛 go reading any of those unrealiable forums now!鈥) and said he鈥檇 speak with his colleagues and let me know.

So that鈥檚 where we鈥檙e at! He ended the call by again apologising for 鈥渇obbing me off鈥 on Friday, and I feel like they鈥檙e now very clear that I鈥檓 not a client to be messed with 馃槀

Safe to say I鈥檓 very glad I didn鈥檛 take the first vet at their word and euthanise, and glad I didn鈥檛 take this one at his re: his initial dismissal of the risk of zinc! Biggest lesson here: a diagnosis is only ever an opinion, in the end. And to trust my gut! 鉂
 

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It sounds like you have worked things out with the vet and they understand that they should take you seriously which is good for Jack's future. The vet should be proud to have a client that fights so hard for her birds. 馃憤
 

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Thank you for your wonderful update! I'm so glad that you had the "hard" conversation with that vet! I don't care how busy they were/are, they shouldn't have blown you off when you spoke to them that day. Sending lots of love and healing energy to little Jack and I'll be looking forward to future updates on how he is doing. 馃挋
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Thank you both so much!
A little update on Mr Jack: he鈥檚 doing so well! We鈥檙e now over two weeks past his intended date of 鈥渆xecution鈥, and he鈥檚 continuing to make slow but steady improvements.

He鈥檚 sleeping in the day a lot less - now when he needs to rest, he鈥檚 content to just sit quietly and look out the window.

He鈥檚 heat-seeking a lot less - before, he had to sleep right next to his heater when he got tired, and now he perches in all different spots further away.

His eyelids are much less yellow. Nothing anywhere says this is remotely diagnostic, but the week he got really sick, the skin around Jack鈥檚 eyes became a vibrant yellow. And obviously yellow often = liver/bile. Now it鈥檚 faded, and this skin is almost entirely it鈥檚 normal colour. Coincidence? I鈥檝e no idea, but it seems meaningful to me.

He鈥檚 gaining weight! This has been my mission this past week, now that we鈥檝e found a routine with his meds & fluids. He was down to a tiny 24g when we got him back from the vets, and he needs to build up his strength and reserves again to keep fighting this.
But diet has been an absolute minefield for me. Everything that鈥檚 recommended for birds with liver failure is terrible for birds with kidney problems, and visa versa. Even old favourites like green leaves are potentially problematic due to iron and phosphorus! I tied myself up in knots for a few days but then I finally decided, let鈥檚 just focus on getting him to eat a variety of food and gain weight.
I鈥檝e added high fat seeds like hemp and Niger to his seed and pellet mix, as well as some oats. He gets daily pea shoots, salad leaves, dandelions and lettuce (I know most people say not to feed iceberg, but he loves the crunch and needs the hydration!). I pick fresh wild grass seeds daily and he loves to work at them for hours.
The biggest game changer were some 鈥渆gg and grass seed鈥 treat sticks I found in the pet store - usually he ignores all sorts of treats and seed bells but these he is OBSESSED with. He can eat an entire one in a day! Normally not something I鈥檇 encourage but he seems to know what his body needs right now, and since we鈥檝e added these we鈥檝e seen daily increases in he weight at last! So good to see!

He鈥檚 being a baddie again. He runs and flutters away when he knows I鈥檓 going to weigh him or give his meds, so I have to chase him around the room. He refuses to go back in his cage and hides in the middle of my back. He won鈥檛 step up if he doesn鈥檛 want to be moved. All things that the old Jack would do, and so it鈥檚 so lovely to see more of them coming back!

He鈥檚 still not 100%, of course. But a friend said to me this week, if he鈥檇 lived to 14 or whatever I was hoping for, he鈥檇 probably be very much like he is right now. The same bossy, charming, snuggly boy - just a little more tired, a little less mobile. Needing to be a bit more cozy at bedtime in colder nights.
And of course, we鈥檇 never think to euthanise for those gentle reasons.

sorry, again, for such a long update! I just know how many of these threads I鈥檝e been scouring in my panic and research and 3am worry, and I鈥檝e always wished the OP would have updated for longer. So I鈥檓 writing this as much for me and Jack as for the future birds and owners who might want to follow this same path together too :)
 

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So glad he is doing well. 馃専 This seems more and more like some sort of toxic assault on his system, maybe the zinc as you have said, I say that because of the jaundice that you say has faded, I think that certainly indicates some sort of acute issue that would effect the liver and is now clearing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Last night he weighed in at 28g! 馃槶馃挄馃挄 27.3 this morning before any food, so he鈥檚 finally gaining again! He was 24g when he left the vet 2 weeks ago, so this is really good news. Operation 鈥渃hunk up Jack鈥 is doing something right!

Of course, naturally my first thought was that it must mean something bad. It鈥檚 something bad when he loses weight, something bad when he maintains and something bad when he gains, as far as my brain is concerned 馃槀. But he鈥檚 pooping well and has increased energy so I think that鈥檚 just my anxiety at work.

Also, he鈥檚 contact calling with his mate again! 鉂 He鈥檚 been SO much quieter since he came back - I鈥檇 sort of accepted that this was just a permanent change, although he used to be a very chatty boy. Then yesterday he suddenly decided he liked her again, flutter-flew across the room to be with her and started feeding each other!

tbh she鈥檚 not the most supportive of mates, as she鈥檚 currently sitting on a clutch of empty eggs inside the sofa (she does this every spring!) and doesn鈥檛 come out much. But still!

Meanwhile, one of my other females has started to fluff up and seek out heat. She鈥檚 eating and drinking fine but it鈥檚 clear there鈥檚 something off, and it seems like a fairly big coincidence to have two birds sick within weeks of each other. I haven鈥檛 had any of them be sick at all, apart from occasional injuries, before this.

So now my hunt for a new avian vet has sped up, as I鈥檇 really prefer not to take her back to the last lot. Not least because I think they all hate me now 馃檲
 

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Maybe one of these links will help you in your search:





 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Bless you FaeryBee for taking the time to share these valuable links! Thank you so much, it was so helpful. I鈥檝e found an Exotic vet who鈥檚 very experienced with birds about an hour away who I鈥檓 seeing on Tuesday, providing nothing becomes more urgent in the meantime. So far, just based on their pre-admissions, I鈥檓 very impressed!

Today marks three weeks since I was told Jack should be euthanised, and they鈥檝e been three really good weeks. This last week has been his best yet - his flying has really picked up again, and I even caught him mating with his preferred female on Tuesday! 馃檲馃槀 Safe to say his quality of life is pretty good, then!
Yesterday was a not-so-great day. It started well when I took him outside for some bright sunshine which he seemed to love, but I noticed the yellow is back around his eyes, and in the evening he started breathing heavily and tail bobbing. I got up at 3am to check on him, convinced this was 鈥榠t鈥. But when I shone my torch on him in the dark, he just decided it was morning and started attacking his egg treat bar with gusto!

His breathing is much more normal this morning and he鈥檚 still eating, drinking, pooping and preening fine, so I鈥檓 just going to keep an eye on him for now. This is probably the reality of chronic organ damage - good days and bad days, ups and downs. Giving him lots of enforced rest and extra juicy fruit & veg today to keep him well hydrated, and hoping it鈥檚 not the start of a downward turn, but just part of the ebb and flow 鉂
 
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