Hi everyone! I know I'm not nearly on the forum as often as I should be, but I would really appreciate some emotional support right now. Some advice would also be much appreciated!
None of my friends know anything about birds, so it's hard for them to relate to what I'm going through.
So, I have eight budgies. One of them is named Lily
and I love her. She's spunky and funny and is always getting into trouble. About three weeks ago, I noticed that she wasn't feeling well at all. She was sitting on her perch all puffed up, she wasn't preening herself, she was vomiting, and was sitting on a perch closest to the bottom of the cage. I wasn't horribly concerned at first because I've had to treat my birds twice for Avian Gastric Yeast and her symptoms were similar to ones my birds have had in the past. I first noticed her symptoms on a Friday and told myself I would take her to the vet on Monday. Sunday night, I noticed her beak was this really pale color, similar to a human fingernail, and on Monday morning I noticed she was breathing heavily so I rushed over to the vet.
When I got there, they put her in some sort of contraption to give her oxygen and they told me that they were going to first do a fecal swab to see if the AGY was acting up again, and that they were going to do an xray on her. She wasn't going to be anesthetized to do the xray, because she was in such rough shape, instead they were going to put her in a box and hope that she stood still enough for them to get a good picture. I left her with them because I had to go to work and they wanted to keep her overnight anyways.
I got a call from them a few hours later saying that they could not get a fecal sample from her because it was obvious she hadn't been eating at home. When she pooped, nothing except urine came out. So they tube fed her, and continued to do so for the couple days that she was there. They also said that the xray revealed that her liver was enlarged, or a structure by her liver was enlarged and that could be causing her to feel ill. They also theorized that she could be facing some reproductive troubles, if it wasn't her liver that was bothering her. So they prescribed a supplement for the liver, milk thistle, and some pain medication in case it was something to do with her reproductive system. They wanted to do further blood work to narrow down what was going on with her, and I gave them the go ahead.
She still wasn't eating, so they had to continue tube feeding her. They also didn't really find anything in the blood work that could be causing her so much trouble. Her poop was also clear of any AGY bacteria. So they told me that I could come and get her when she started eating again and had put back on the few grams she had lost. The vets office was great and they called me to give updates on her every night. (Seriously if you live around Connecticut, I really recommend Kensington Bird and Animal Hospital, they are amazing.) I got a phone call on Thursday that she had been eating on her own and that I was free to pick her up, so I did.
I took her home and everything was going great. She was getting her pain medication and supplement and she was eating on her own and everything. I had her in a small cage to keep an eye on her and to keep her away from my other birds so she could get some rest.
However, on Friday night, I saw that she had thrown up again. It was too late to take her to the vet, so I called them on Saturday morning and I was told to bring her back down. They wanted to hospitalize her again to keep an eye on her, which was fine by me. They wanted to do a blood test for the Avian Bornavirus for her which I was okay with. But since they had already drawn blood that week, they wanted to wait until Monday to do it. I'm fairly certain that this was Easter weekend.
During her time at the vet, they continued to give her the liver supplements and I think they were giving her something for nausea so that she wasn't vomiting. I was able to pick her up on Tuesday afternoon and she's been home since. She's been doing really well and I had been giving her the liver supplements (she didn't need the pain medication anymore) and she overall just seems a lot happier and healthier.
This past Tuesday, I got a phone call from the vet saying that Lily's test for Avian Bornavirus was positive. I was told that it could be a false positive, but based on the symptoms she has been having, they don't think it's a false positive. Apparently it's contagious to other birds, which is just lovely. They think she has Proventricular Dilation Disease, which is caused by the Bornavirus? I guess it causes something close to the liver to swell and that was what could have made the liver to look enlarged on the xray. Anyways, the vet took her off the Milk Thistle and put her on some other type of medication for the PDD, I don't know what it's called and I don't feel like getting the bottle out of the fridge.
I'm still not entirely sure what PDD is. I think it has something to do with the nervous system and is affecting her gastrointestinal system? I was told that it has no cure and that they can only treat the symptoms as they arise. But eventually, she will get to a point where they can't treat the symptoms anymore. Because of her PDD, her lifespan is shortened. And the fact that she has had AGY in the past complicates the situation even more.
Close to $1,000 in vet bills later, Lily and I are just bopping along with her PDD medication. I've also been trying to convert my flock over to pellets because it's a better choice for everyone healthwise.
So because I have nobody else to talk to about this, I'm turning to you guys. If anyone else has the audacity to tell me to "just buy a new bird" I am going to scream. This is all I have been hearing from my friends and family members who know nothing about birds. She is my pet and just because some people don't think she's "as important as a cat or dog" doesn't mean I don't love her any less. I would never ever tell anyone to just go buy a new dog or have another child.
Is there anything I can do for Lily besides giving her the medication? Like any supplements or whatever? Is there anything I can do for the rest of my birds that reduce their chances of getting PDD? The vet said there's no use in separating them now since they've already been exposed to the virus. And just because they've been exposed, it doesn't mean they're necessarily going to contract PDD or display symptoms.
Thank you for listening to my rant, and thank you in advance for your help!
PS: A takeaway from this story is that buying budgies from Petco is a bad idea.