Pet dove is tipping his head backwards - Pigeon-Talk
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DaveNagy DaveNagy is offline
Posted 17th December 2016, 11:58 AM
Join Date: Dec 2016
Country: United States
Location: North Georgia, USA
Posts: 5

Pet dove is tipping his head backwards


Hi folks,

Over 10 years ago, one of our cats caught a white (ringneck?) dove in our back yard. The dove was uninjured, but didn't seem to know how to fly. We suspected that someone bought the dove at a pet store and "released" him at a graveside service in the cemetery next door. Sigh.

Anyway, Antonio the dove has been a happy and healthy pet for about 11 years now. About six months ago, he began having "upside-down head" spells. Mostly in the evenings and mornings. We took him to the vet, and he did a course of antibiotics. He seemed better for a while, but we are unsure whether the meds actually helped him, or if he just got better on his own. The symptoms do seem to come and go on their own.

Right now, he's pretty bad. He's showing symptoms for at least half the day, currently. We're worried that he's suffering needlessly, and maybe needs to be euthanized. (Or cured, of course!)

The symptoms are an obvious lack of balance. It appears that if he tries to look up even a little bit, his head tips all the way back, upside down. He falls off his perch, and tends to stagger backwards until he's wedged into a corner of his cage. No obvious tremors or fits. He just sits there, with his head upside down.

I've noticed that if I hold him, or otherwise interact with him, he seems to get better (standing upright) at least temporarily. Almost like it's possible to "snap him out of it" on occasion. This seems to be working less well, now.

He tends to have at least a few symptomless hours, even on his bad days, and during those hours he eats and drinks normally. His poops look pretty much the way they've always looked.

Any advice? Is this that PMV thing? Is he just old? Both? What can we do to help him? Since we just bumbled into dove ownership, I'd be happy for just general care advice, as well. Thanks!

We're in Canton, GA. North of Atlanta.

-Dave
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DaveNagy DaveNagy is offline
Posted 17th December 2016, 12:11 PM
Join Date: Dec 2016
Country: United States
Location: North Georgia, USA
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Let's see if I can attach a photo:

Link to photo

Well, there's a link at least. He often tilts his head back even further than that.
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FredaH FredaH is offline
Posted 17th December 2016, 12:18 PM
Join Date: Apr 2016
Country: United Kingdom
Location: South East England
Posts: 1,315
Hi Dave - I can't help personally as I'm new to pigeons and am interested to see the replies from experienced folk. Has he ever had true PMV? I only ask because I'm sure I've seen folk say that the symptoms can return on and off throughout life when the birds are stressed in some way, could even be a change of environment or a stranger looking after them while owner is away. I know it's one of the more common illnesses anyway where this can happen but we'll see when someone else comes along.
Brilliant that you've had him for all those years, he must be very bonded to you.
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cwebster cwebster is offline
Posted 17th December 2016, 01:35 PM
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Location: Central Coast, CA
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We haven't had any birds with PMV but it is my understanding that it is not painful and that birds slowly recover, with supportive care. If that is what your dove has. Hopefully someone expert will weigh in on it. Agree with FredaH, after 11 years, your bird must really be bonded to and love you. Lovely bird too.
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DaveNagy DaveNagy is offline
Posted 17th December 2016, 04:32 PM
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Location: North Georgia, USA
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He does seem to like us quite a bit! I feel guilty for not giving him more attention, but we have so many cats that taking him out and holding him seems a bit risky!

We never got a formal diagnosis of PMV, because we couldn't afford to do blood work at the time. That's also probably why the vet tried antibiotics, since we didn't know whether it was viral or not.

So here's a development: After taking pictures, I was standing there pondering what to do, and decided he might be cold. He does seem to do worse at night, and in the winter, so maybe it's a factor. I went and grabbed our tortoise's heat/sun lamp and stuck it on top of Antonio's cage. It might have been coincidence, but he perked up within minutes and has been upright and eating for several hours. Now, late afternoon always seems to be the best time of day for him, but it's got me wondering. He certainly seemed to enjoy it.

Does he need a heater? He's downstairs, so it might get down to 65F (maybe lower?) overnight, and stays around 68-70 during the day. He gets no sun, and the cage is about half covered by a sheet.
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Jay3 Jay3 is offline
Posted 17th December 2016, 05:48 PM
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Because he gets no sun, unless he is given a vitamin D3 supplement then he also doesn't get much needed calcium. They need D3 to be able to absorb any calcium they get. They would normally get this from the sun, but without sun, they need a supplement. They do sell calcium/vitamin D3 supplements for inside birds. Does he get any vitamins?
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John_D John_D is offline
Posted 18th December 2016, 03:11 AM
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The pic reminds me of a dove that came my way way back. It was apparently suffering from vitamin B deficiency. One important function of the B vitamin range is a healthy nervous system.

As Jay3 advises, a Calcium + D3 liquid supplement could be beneficial. That, plus the B vitamins would be good.

Multi vitamins formulated for pigeons/doves are available online at stores such as Foys, Jedda and Global, as is the calcium/D3 supplement.

Due to age, there could be something else going on but may be worth covering the vitamin intake first - if you aren't already doing so, of course.
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DaveNagy DaveNagy is offline
Posted 18th December 2016, 02:27 PM
Join Date: Dec 2016
Country: United States
Location: North Georgia, USA
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Thanks for the advice.

I asked my wife if she had been giving Antonio vitamins. She said, no not recently. She had in the past, but stopped because she thought his food mix was covering his needs. So, I'll need to investigate that further.

He really seems to be liking the reptile light and heater that I stole from the tortoise. It's one of those lights that's supposed to supply the right kind of UV to allow the tortoise to metabolize his calcium, yadda yadda. We still have to supplement the tortoise, however.

Anyway, should I get the dove his own light and/or heater? Should I worry about UV, or just supplement his D more? I thought I read something about using a heating pad of some sort, instead of radiating heater above him. Are any of those things recommended for indoor doves?

Thanks again.
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cwebster cwebster is offline
Posted 18th December 2016, 04:07 PM
Join Date: Dec 2010
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Location: Central Coast, CA
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When our beloved old Phoebe was sick, we kept a radiant heater in her room, an oil filled heater. She loved being very warm. I just put a small space heater in the bathroom with our mantis and he perked right up. Animals value warmth just like we do. If they are under the weather they need more heat so their energy goes into getting well.
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DaveNagy DaveNagy is offline
Posted 3rd January 2017, 01:46 PM
Join Date: Dec 2016
Country: United States
Location: North Georgia, USA
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That certainly seems to be the case. Since I added the heating pad to the bottom of the cage, and began turning on a "sunlamp" during the daylight hours, Antonio has been entirely symptom free except for two late night episodes about a week ago. Neither were too bad and only lasted a few hours.

I'm hopeful that if we keep this up, he'll be able to recover entirely.
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cwebster cwebster is offline
Posted 3rd January 2017, 06:30 PM
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So glad to hear Antonio is doing better!
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