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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

My pigeon Philly’s bloodwork came back normal except for a very high blood glucose level: 64 mmol/L (I’m told that normal for pigeons is between 3 and 22 mmol/L.) My vet is looking into a test to confirm diabetes. I was just wondering if anyone here has any experience with diagnosing and treating diabetes in pigeons. Could anything else be causing the spike in blood glucose? Do you know of a good test to confirm diabetes?

Two things that might be relevant are: (1) Philly’s X-rays seemed to show intestinal inflammation (and he had been having watery droppings), and (2) Philly’s X-rays and ultrasound seem to indicate an enlarged liver.

(We did the ultrasound because Philly’s X-rays seemed to show an enlarged heart. The ultrasound actually indicated that his heart was normal, but it looked like liver tissue was coming up around the bottom of the heart. On the helpful advice of people here we did the bloodwork to check for bacteria that might have been causing the organ enlargement, but I guess we didn’t find anything except the high blood glucose.)

(For the intestinal inflammation we are, on the very helpful advice of people here on pigeon talk, working on getting a broad spectrum wormer like Moxydectin Plus or Ivermectin and Praziquantel. There didn’t seem to be any Moxydectin Plus here in Canada, but we’re seeing if we can get it from the U.S., and if that doesn’t work we were just going to try Ivermectin and Praziquantel, which my vet said would work just like the Moxydectin and Praziquantel that constitutes Moxydectin Plus. We had initially tried to put Philly and my other pigeon on a low dose of Panacur (0.11ml of 25mg/ml solution – the plan was going to be to administer for 5 days), but when he had an adverse reaction after one dose and people here warned me of its dangers we suspended the Panacur.)

Thanks so much!
Howard
 

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Hi Howard,

I see you are using the Canadian units for blood glucose. There are some articles about diabetes in birds. See:
"Blood glucose levels in the bird are significantly greater than in the cat and dog (200-400 mg/dl) and can go higher transiently with stress. Diabetes mellitus is uncommon in birds but is associated with glucose levels persistently above 900 mg/dl. Blood glucose levels below 150 mg/dl should be considered serious and life threatening." http://www.heidihoefer.com/pages/birds/avian_blood_test.htm

Some of the more common factors inducing diabetes are certain medications, diet, stress, environmental conditions. etc. So we should expect that diabetes would occur in any mammalian life form that relies on glucose as an energy source.

I notice that blood glucose meters are now very cheap. in fact one drug store chain in Chicago is giving them away just so you buy the strips necessary to use them. Although there is a difference in the red corpuscle of a bird, the glucose content is contained in the plasma so a standard meter should work.

It would certainly be worthwhile if members were to start collecting glucose numbers on the birds that come into their hands as an initial screening. It is possible that injury or illness may be a factor inducing diabetes which goes unnoticed and is a source of sudden death.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi Grimaldy,

Thanks very much. Yes, my vet did think it was very high. I actually have a diabetic cat (and an alphaTRAK cat & dog specific glucometer). Do you know how to take blood from birds for blood glucose readings? (For cats you just prick the big vein on the outside of the ear, which I think is surrounded by few nerves and seems to bleed pretty well.)

Thanks also for telling me about the U.S. units for blood glucose - I'm actually from the States but all my experience with diabetes has been in Canada, so I had no idea there was a different measurement system!
 

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The skin on the upper side of the foot works well for drawing blood, but with a blood glucose meter you only need a drop.

The measurement system is the same just that the two countries express it in different units. In Canada now they use metric, although all of the country was surveyed back in the 19th and 20th centuries in imperial.

Be aware however that in order to determine diabetes, the blood glucose level must remain consistently high, a few spikes won't do it. I notice that drugstore chains are also offering glycated hemoglobin testing for $20.00. That gives you the average over a six month period. You could ask them if you could bring in the blood sample if it is only a few drops. The blood volume of a bird is about 10% of body weight, so a 300 gram pigeon has only around 30 grams of blood, not much more than couple of tablespoons full.

If it turns out your bird may have diabetic issues there are a number of meds available rather than injecting insulin.
 
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