I wanted to provide an update on Zeezu and I have some questions hopefully you all can help me with.
We got Zeezu late fall of 2018. She was still not an adult (had baby bares) and she was not clipped. She was in quarantine for 30 days, then slowly introduced to our other bird (Birdie). Together, they stayed in a large flight cage (the one recommended here), had lots of out of cage time where they could fly. Their diet was healthy (all sorts of veggies, pellets and seeds).
About a month afterwards (late December/early Jan)
Zeezu was going through her first molt. I started noticing tail-bobbing. Not taking any chances, I took her to the vet and they prescribed batryil. It didn't help.
Fast forward to now and $2000 later in vet bills, this is what we know:
- Liver is enlarged (x-ray)
- Her nails and beak were overgrown and were trimmed
- Its not bacterial or Fungal
- Fluid is building up in her abdomen
The first week they extracted 1ml. Two weeks later they extracted 2ml. They ran some tests on it, and there is a large amount of inflammation cells and her bile acids are high. She said those results indicate its not a tumor, most likely liver disease. Whether its fatty liver disease or not, we don't know.
Currently Zeezu is on Milk Thistle and Lactulose. She is slowly getting back to veggies, however, she no longer likes kale and broccoli and favors spinach.
Here are my questions:
1. Why is she favoring spinach over other veggies all of a sudden? I've tried broccoli, kale, bok choy, romaine lettuce, and carrots. Any ideas or suggestions?
2. Do you think she could ever be with Birdie again? Its been 3 months of this, and its been really hard. I know that Zeezu needs her time to rest as she is still sleeps lots during the day and I don't want to stress her out.
3. Has anyone here every had a budgie develop liver disease at 6 months old while feed a healthy diet and provided lots of cage time? Is it common? I understand that if baby budgies are continuously overfeed or handfed to long that this can happen. I had her for only two months and then this happened.
4. Is there anything else I can do for her or Birdie?
Unfortunately you can never know what lays in wait healthwise for any bird, sorry that Zeezu is having this problem at such a young age. I also have a bird with liver issues, it is assumed to be fatty liver but my guy is older, at least 4-5 years, I got him from a shelter so can't be sure of the age. He has had brusing on his beak and nails and overgrowth as well. Several months ago the vet extracted fluid from him as well and said it was due to the liver. He is also on the milk thistle and lactulose and has been for quite a while but after extracting the fluid he was put on a short course of Metacam which helps with inflammation and Ursodiol which he is still on. I think the Ursodiol has helped him quite a bit. My guys liver was also enlarged but it is better now. The Ursodiol is itself a bile acid and my vet compounds it for birds in his pharmacy I am not sure if there is a formula readily available for use. You might want to ask your vet if it would be appropriate for Zeezu.
Does your bird with liver disease remain isolated from your other birds (if you have more than one)?
Also, did you only extract fluid once? I can tell Zeezu will need to go back again soon to get more extracted, which will make a total of three times. Do you know what causes this fluid build up or how to prevent it?
I've recently changed Milk Thistle brands as I was doing the liquid gel, now I'm doing a capsule (powder inside) with dandelion and tumeric. I think it's working better. Also, how often do you do the Milk Thistle and lactulose?
I'm going to ask my vet about Metcam and Ursodiol tomorrow. Thank you for mentioning it.
Also, how long did it take to notice changes and see an improvement?
Sorry for all the questions. This really has taken a toll on me and my family (birds included). So thank you so much for your help. I just want her to be healthy and happy again, she deserves it.
I have 8 budgies and he is not isolated, he interacts with them all as he chooses, however when he was feeling really bad I wanted to keep him in his cage and quiet. He has only had fluid extracted once and I asked the vet what was happening and basically he said the compromised liver is leaking fluid into the body cavity. The milk thistle/lactulose I get from the vet and I give it once a day. It took about 5-7 days before I could notice a definite improvement. My guy is also more prone to GI tract infections because of all this so I have his droppings checked once a month in hopes of catching anything while he is still not showing symptoms. Hang in there, many of us know how stressful it is to go through something like this.
Moral support here too I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this with Zeezu.
You asked how common it is. To give you an idea, even though there are many healthy ones out there; unfortunately, budgies can be prone to inherited problems due to them being so prolific and inbred because of colony breeding for decades in captivity without regard to health and good genetics.
Because of that, sometimes even though we do all that we can for them, it isn’t always enough. Sometimes good care continued with the proper supplements for the condition, can save them and nurse them back to stable health. Each case is different. I do hope that Zeezu is one like Cody’s who can thrive with the proper specialized care.
Regarding breeding practices, this is why we so strongly discourage colony breeding in an aviary, and do our best to educate on individual cage breeding and selecting the best candidates for health.