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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I’ve had my pigeon, NuNu, for about 3 years now, and just recently her eating has slowed down and she’s been losing weight.

NuNu, her mate, and my other birds all live with me indoors (they are all non-releasable, formerly feral birds who were found with broken wings that left them flightless) and were wormed when I got them. We suspect that NuNu is probably only about 3 years old or a bit older (as she seemed young when I found her), although we can’t be certain.

When I took NuNu to the vet, the vet could feel an air-bubble in her crop, and saw some material at the back of her throat (one of her kidneys also seemed a bit larger than the other, but absent other symptoms the vet didn’t think that was too remarkable). The vet looked at the material and some of NuNu’s droppings under a microscope and couldn’t see any parasites. We also did bloodwork, which came back unremarkable (no elevated white count), although her calcium was a bit low (which could have to do with the fact that she was just starting to lay a clutch, which she has now finished laying).

NuNu is taking Metronidazole (50mg/ml solution; dose of 0.17 mls 2x per day) and I’m syringe feeding her wet cat food mixed with a tiny bit of ground up Tums to supplement her calcium (in addition to the oyster shell that she always has available to her). I’m currently using Hill’s Anorexia Diet cat / dog food, and I had been giving her about 4 mls 3x per day (for a total of 12 mls per day), but as her weight hasn’t been coming up and she seems willing to eat more, I’ve been increasing the amount I’ve been feeding her.

While I would be most grateful for any advice about treatment and diagnosis, I think my main questions at this point concern the syringe feeding. I was wondering if (i) the high-fat, high-protein cat / dog food is the best thing to feed a pigeon who is struggling to put on weight, and (ii) how much can I safely feed her (how frequently and how much per feeding). I think that NuNu’s normal weight was in the range of 390 or so grams, but she’s down now to 330 grams. I’ve been increasing how much I feed her by about a 1/2 ml at a time to see if she tolerates it, and, as she’s been tolerating the increases, we’re up now to about 7.5 mls per feeding. I was wondering if anyone had a sense of how much more I can give her per feeding, and how frequently she can be fed (I was thinking of going at least from 3 feedings per day to 4).

Thank you so much!
Howard
 

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Air bubble in crop means fermenting matter on the bottom of the crop, which means crop blockage. This most often is caused by candida, but can also be caused by a foreign object she ingested, or, according to what I've read (but never met) canker nodule on proventriculus.

Does the droppings look tinnier than usual, or with less feces (dark matter compared with the white matter)?

Treatment for candida is Nystatin, half a tablet, 1-3 times a day for several days (until problem disappears). Feralpigeon (an experienced user here) says Nystatin should be given together with (1 - 2 mg / day) Fluconazole, but take notice that this drug is quite hepatotoxic (if you gonna give, acompaniate with hepatoprotective supplement and B vitamin). "Washing" the crop between meals by filling it with water (and letting the water to be absorbed into organism) also help, as well as gentle massage of the crop (especially the bottom) after feeding. And as usual, give probiotics to the bird, as the apparition of candida was caused inclusively by the reduction of the crop bacterial flora.

Also, giving meat - based food to a pigeon doesn't seem a good idea for me. Meat is nocive even for meat - eaters (is the cause of most diseases in humans)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Hi AndreiS,

Thanks so much for this. I'm e-mailing it to my vet and I'm going to get right on getting the Nystatin, and I'll be sure to be careful if we use Fluconazole.

In the mean time I just wanted to ask you if you had a suggestion for what to feed NuNu other than the meat-based cat / dog food? (I was only using it because it had worked well with cats and corvids and I didn't know what else to use).

Thanks again!
Howard


P.S. When I've seen her droppings recently there has been very little white matter - it looks like mostly some dark matter with some clear fluid around it.
 

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Does her breast bone feel sharp? Our 8 year old formerly feral pet pigeon weighs only about 290 and the avian vet said that is ok. Agree with AndreiS that cat food may not be ideal for a pigeon although all the wild birds outside just adore it. Do they make a Critical Care powder for birds like they do for herbivores such as guinea pigs?
 

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Hi AndreiS,

Thanks so much for this. I'm e-mailing it to my vet and I'm going to get right on getting the Nystatin, and I'll be sure to be careful if we use Fluconazole.

In the mean time I just wanted to ask you if you had a suggestion for what to feed NuNu other than the meat-based cat / dog food? (I was only using it because it had worked well with cats and corvids and I didn't know what else to use).
Corvid are omnivores, they have pretty different metabolism to columbidae.

You have to feed Kaytee baby bird formula:
http://www.kaytee.com/products/exact-hand-feeding-baby-bird.php


If not available locally, you can order online.
Here in Bucharest I can't find it and ordering online is too expensive, so I make my own by grinding some pigeon seed mix but its a time consumming process if you don't have a good device to grind.



P.S. When I've seen her droppings recently there has been very little white matter - it looks like mostly some dark matter with some clear fluid around it.
A photo would be very helpful. Btw, the bird can suffer of infestation with bacteria, worm and other diseases and yet nothing appear at lab tests ans this happens in a large percentage of cases.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi cwebster and AndreiS,

Thank you so much for your replies!

cwebster - I'm not sure that her breastbone feels exactly sharp, but I do seem to be able to feel and notice it more on her now than I used to (and more than on my other birds). And given that her weight is down from what it has been for the last three years with me I think there is cause for concern. (I guess your pigeon is just smaller - it's the same with my non-releasable formerly feral magpie, who is just small for a magpie!).

AndreiS - Thank you so much for letting me know about the Kaytee formula! I'm going to buy some as soon as the stores open. You wouldn't know, by the way, how much of the Kaytee formula adults are supposed to get per unit weight, would you? Because all I saw on the online directions were instructions for chicks, who it says to feed around 10-12% of body weight per feeding, which would seem absurdly high for an adult.

Yes, please find a picture of a picture I just took of her dropping at:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/jgw5djbs95y25kn/NuNu's Dropping.JPG?dl=0

(I couldn't just attach it here because the file was too large).

Please ignore the small bits of older, dry droppings on the top and on the right towards the top (as well as the bits of red grit under the dropping to the bottom left and the seed under the dropping towards the bottom right). This one looks healthier to me than some of the droppings she'd had earlier.

Thanks again so much!
Howard
 

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About Kaytee: I know that the average pigeon eats 30 gr of dried matter / day, and given that 300 gr is the average weight of a pigeon (at least here in Romania), that makes around a tenths of bird's weight. And for a sick bird like yours, is vital to feed consistent amount of food, in order to help the bird support the effects of the pathogenic invasion (if present) and the toxicity of medicines.


Yes, please find a picture of a picture I just took of her dropping at:


I'm not an expert, but I'm sure this is the dropping of a very sick bird. The feces (the dark part) look like they consist of much blood and yellow matter. The dried droppings are intense dark green. This variation from dark green to ochre yellow and then to blood is similar to the symptoms of an outbreak at my birds during this time, about whose pathogenic cause I'm not sure, but I suspect coccidiosis or worms. Maybe I will find the time to go to vet to have a lab test.

The difference is that at the droppings of your bird, the blood is not homogenously mingled with the rest of feces matter, but is mingled with some translucid matter, like gelatine.

Possibly that my birds suffer from hairworms and your bird may have a taenia. Did she ever passed some incolor gelatinous matter as droppings? I had once a bird with a taenia and she used to periodically (every few days) pass such gelatinous matter, which was in fact the eggs. I went with a sample of that gelatinous incolor matter at vet, he looked at microscope and saw the characteristic taenia capsules with several eggs. If your bird has a taenia and you went to lab test with a sample that was not collected during egg emission, nothing must appeared at test.





Can you post some photos, or, better, a little movie (posted on youtube) with the bird? If she looks relatively in stable condition, you can try a dewormer for taenia or for both taenia and other kind of worms.

Deworming substances fall in three categories: those for round and hair worms, like Pyrantel, those for taenias, like Praziquantel and those for both categories, like Albendazole and Flubendazole. The last two are considered toxic for pigeons. I treated that bird with Flubendazole and a part of taenia died and was vomited or excreted by bird (I found segments from it) but the head, which is attached to intestine's wall, remained, the worm rebuilt itself and unfortunately the bird died from some other complications.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Hi AndreiS,

Thanks again so much for your extremely helpful advice!

Regarding the Kaytee & Nystatin: I got both the Kaytee and the Nystatin today and started her on them. She seems to be enjoying the Kaytee much more than what we were using before. I’m giving her the Kaytee formula in an amount of about 10-12% of her body weight in per day – i.e. spread out over the 4 feedings. That amount is pretty close to what we were doing before. The instructions for growing chicks said to feed 10-12% of the chick’s body weight PER FEEDING, which, given your experience (and what NuNu seems to be happy getting) sounds like it would be excessive in the case of an adult like NuNu.

Regarding NuNu’s droppings & appearance: That’s very good to know about the possibilities of worms and coccidiosis, and I’m e-mailing my vet about this. But are you sure that what looks like blood isn’t the result of her being fed the meat-based cat / dog food? Her droppings turned brownish like that after she started on the cat / dog food and have ceased looking that way now that she’s on the Kaytee. Here are links to two pictures of her droppings from today, which I think look pretty different from the one I showed you from yesterday:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/dj7xd25oq02drdn/NuNu's Dropping 5-17-15 4 PM.JPG?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/36e4nirx07qpccy/NuNu's Dropping 5-17-15 8PM.JPG?dl=0


Here also is a video of NuNu from today (in which I think she’s a little nervous of the phone / camera, as she hadn’t had one put in her face in that situation before):

https://www.dropbox.com/s/m8d6ws8f9n93rnw/NuNu Video 5-17-15 4 PM.mp4?dl=0


(If you notice NuNu's drooping wing and lack of flying ability, those are permanent conditions with her: she was found 3 years ago with the wing-break that left her flightless and thus non-releasable). Throughout today NuNu has seemed pretty perky and active, in a way that is unlike what I’ve seen of birds who are feeling pretty sick. Her weight was also up a bit today, from 331 grams to 336 grams. I know that’s not a ton, but I think it’s the first time I’ve measured her gaining weight since I first noticed her seeming lethargic a few weeks back.

Thanks again!
Howard
 

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The instructions for growing chicks said to feed 10-12% of the chick’s body weight PER FEEDING, which, given your experience (and what NuNu seems to be happy getting) sounds like it would be excessive in the case of an adult like NuNu.
Not sure if they refer to the entire weight of the food, that is, Kaytee + water, or only to the powder weight. I was refering to the powder weight. 100 gr of powder / day is impossible to be digested even by the biggest pigeon.

But are you sure that what looks like blood isn’t the result of her being fed the meat-based cat / dog food? Her droppings turned brownish like that after she started on the cat / dog food and have ceased looking that way now that she’s on the Kaytee.
Here are links to two pictures of her droppings from today, which I think look pretty different from the one I showed you from yesterday:




Possible that the meat, the high proteic content has affected the liver. The droppings look now much better.

Yet, the aqueous aspect, together with the fact she can't eat solid food, points out to an enteritis, infection of the bowel which most likely is caused by a bacteria, e.coli. I would say to give 50 mg amoxicillin / day for 3 days and see if droppings turn solid and dark kaki. If they turn, that means this was the cause. She nevertheless may not start to eat grains immediately, as even if the pathogen was killed, the damage it produced to the bowel remains and it will takes more time for the bowel to be rebuilt. And don't forget to give probiotics and vitamins during and after the treatment. Hepatoprotective supplement (methionine) also is a good idea. If amoxicillin shows no effect in three days (usually it shows effect from the first day), then there is other pathogen affecting the bowel, like coccidia or canker.

In my case, it seems that that condition of yellowish droppings was bacterially - caused, as I administered Lincospectin - an antibiotic injection - to a pigeon who turned really bad and droppings changed from corn-yellow to darker green (not perfect but greatly better) in less than two hours.


Throughout today NuNu has seemed pretty perky and active, in a way that is unlike what I’ve seen of birds who are feeling pretty sick.
This is my impression as well.

Best regards!
 

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Treatment for candida is Nystatin, half a tablet, 1-3 times a day for several days (until problem disappears). Feralpigeon (an experienced user here) says Nystatin should be given together with (1 - 2 mg / day) Fluconazole, but take notice that this drug is quite hepatotoxic (if you gonna give, acompaniate with hepatoprotective supplement and B vitamin). "Washing"

Treatment for candida is Nystatin, half a tablet, 1-3 times a day for several days (until problem disappears). Feralpigeon (an experienced user here) says Nystatin should be given together with (1 - 2 mg / day) Fluconazole, but take notice that this drug is quite hepatotoxic (if you gonna give, acompaniate with hepatoprotective supplement and B vitamin). rop (especially the bottom) after feeding.

Actually, Andrei, this is not my practice and in a PM conversation that you initiated it was you who stated emphatically that Fluconazole should be used for treating yeast. I said that in my experience with avian vets treating for yeast the medicine of choice is Itraconazole when treating systemically. That Nystatin is also used for yeast but in order to treat yeast, Nystatin needs to come in contact with the yeast and is normally given in a solution format. A pill would be largely ineffective.

I did note that there are those who use Nystatin as a vehicle for Fluconazole
and furnished you with the recipe since you had stated that you used Fluconazole for treating yeast.

I will speak for myself when stating that I have only used Itraconazole and Nystatin for yeast infections or prophylactic treatments used concurrently with long term antibiotic treatments.

I have rehabbed pigeons for Wildlife groups in my area for ten some odd years and never had an avian or wildlife exotics vet recommend Fluconazole nor have I used it.
 

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Hermann, both yeast and bacteria can cause gas/air in crop and since both can create havoc in the crop, both are due consideration. Trichomonads should also be considered when rounding up the 'usual suspects' as the tissue damage that this protozoa causes can in turn cause bacterial infections, it is also a very common dove and pigeon disease. Canker can also form a very large growth which can cause a crop occlusion and obstruct the crop from emptying. Because you treated with Metronidazole which treats anaerobic infections in addition to Trichomoniasis you have treated for protozoal infection and anaerobic infections that are sensitive to Metronidazole.

There are many common digestive tract bacterial infections in pigeonos and if resistant Ecoli, a culture and sensitivity test is a wise step to take.


It is important that the crop empties between feedings and if it isn't, you can tube vinegar water to help the crop clear. Two tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar to a gallon of water which can be 'halved-down' to get a more manageable amount. This is a good 'pre-biotic' for all of your pets, regardless.

I wonder if you tip the bird's head toward the sky if you can see the bubble?
Did the vet rule out a ruptured air sac? Also, if you lift the injured wing, do you see a cyst on the underside of the wing in a location which corresponds to a wing joint?

There are many experienced rehabbers posting here over the years who worked alongside avian and wildlife/exotic vets who have walked folks through the feeding of a newly acquired rescue by substituting soaked puppy kibble in a pinch without issue. This should not have caused your pet any health risk.

I prefer Kaytee exact as it is bird specific and less work. I usually add vitamins and honey to the formula for added benefits. I would continue though, to leave pigeon mix out for the bird so that it can self feed as desired. It is better to leave supplemental feedings as just that, though I confess to using 'souped-up' formula on chronically ill birds to ensure they get the nutrition they need until out of crisis. This can result in a happy pigeon with less symptoms. A reminder, Kaytee will set up initially to a thick consistency after which reconstituting is necessary.

Do you happen to know if your bird is a cock bird or hen?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hi feralpigeon,

Thanks so much for your reply; I've forwarded it to my vet.

NuNu is a hen (she's got a mate, they have eggs, I replace them with plastic ones, etc. She just had a clutch about a week ago).

When I lifted her head to the sky I couldn't see an air bubble. I think my vet ruled out a ruptured air sac, but I'll double check.

I don't think I can see a cyst under NuNu's wing, but I'll check again.

We've been using the Kaytee exact formula, supplemented with Bene Bac Plus probiotics for a few days now. I think she's doing pretty well with it. She also has access to her usual pigeon mix (to which I add vitamin mineral & calcium / vitamin D powder).

Thanks again!
Howard
 

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Your welcome Howard. I think the Metronidazole treatment is a most reasonable approach, especially considering she just laid eggs and has been under stress. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
NuNu's Droppings & Weight

Hi all,

At the end of May the vet analyzed material from NuNu's crop, and determined that it was a bacterial infection sensitive to Baytril. After treatment on Baytril, her crop bubbles disappeared, she seemed to be back to eating a significant amount on her own (although I was still syringe feeding her), and her activity level was way up.

But just in the last few weeks, around the time we finished with the Baytril, NuNu had a clutch of eggs. When she did, her activity level and weight went down significantly, and it didn't seem to be coming back up on its own. So I increased the frequency with which I was syringe feeding NuNu (back from 2-3 times per day to 4 times per day). This has seemed to enable help her gain weight and become more active. But NuNu's droppings have started to look pretty watery. For a picture, see:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/df05e3yimk5q1ar/NuNu's Dropping 6-18.JPG?dl=0


I don't know for how long it's usual to syringe feed birds after having crop issues like NuNu's. I had been trying to ween her off of the syringe feedings, but, as I said, she lost weight so rapidly after having the clutch, and I was so concerned that it didn't seem to be coming back up, that I felt I had to go back to doing it more frequently.

Also, does anyone have any idea what might have initially caused the bacterial crop infection, and whether NuNu will be particularly vulnerable to these in the future?

Thanks!
Howard
 

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Actually very often, it is canker that causes crop blockage. The bacteria or yeast can happen from the crop not working properly.An adult pigeon would get 50 mg Metronidazole daily.
Encourage her to eat herself as much as possible. Don't think you were feeding enough either.
 

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So this is the pic with NuNu's droppings:







To me looks very much like the e. coli problems I had and still have with my pigeons. It passes easily if treated, is enough to give one or two days amoxicillin and droppings turn to normal and the bird is able to east solid food (grains) on her own. Baytril is also efficient but is a more toxic drug and causes candida. I always avioid using it.




It make no reason to give a longer treatment for e. coli because the bacteria is killed at first or second drug administration, but be prepared for bird getting reinfested, if the environment is contaminated (as is at me). In case the environment is contaminated, there may be several further infestations but finally the bird will get immune to the disease.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hi Jay3,

Thanks very much for that. We had had her on Metronidazole, but maybe she needs to go back on it. I'll pass this along to my vet.

Could you clarify what you meant by "Encourage her to eat herself as much as possible. Don't think you were feeding enough either."? Is there a way of encouraging her to eat on her own apart from cutting back on the syringe feedings?

Also, how much should a bird NuNu's size be syringe fed? Her healthy weight is close to 390 grams, and she's currently around 350 grams. I've been feeding her about 10-15 mls of mixed Kaytee exact formula (i.e. about 2 teaspoons dry formula mixed with sufficient water to get it to a creamy texture). When I cut back on feedings she was getting 10-15 mls 2-3 times per day. Now we're back to 10-15 mls 4 times per day. This diet of 40 - 60 mls per day was (and appears currently) to be sufficient to enable her to gain weight. Also, my understanding was (a) it takes about 4 hours for the crop to empty, and (b) when I once tried to give her more than 10-15 mls at a single feeding she threw up. As such, I thought that I was now feeding her about as much as she can be fed. Is that right, and it's just that going down to 2-3 feedings of 10-15 mls was too little? Or should I be trying to find a way to feed her even more than 4 feedings of 10-15 mls?

Thanks again!
Howard
 

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Also, how much should a bird NuNu's size be syringe fed? Her healthy weight is close to 390 grams, and she's currently around 350 grams. I've been feeding her about 10-15 mls of mixed Kaytee exact formula (i.e. about 2 teaspoons dry formula mixed with sufficient water to get it to a creamy texture).
You must think separate for the dried substance (the Kaytee powder) and the water. Ther amount oif dried Kaytee is the one indicated on the package of product (I don't know because I never had one). Must be something function of bird's weight. The amount of water must respond to the level of viscosity the bird can assimilate. If a healthy bird with lot of physical activity, he / she may get the food in more viscous condition (and as such assimilate more dried substance), as their criop is able to absord it and pass it through the proventriculus. If a sick bird, the consistency must be more aqueous in order to prevent the settling of the resulted cream on the bottom of the crop.
 

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Hi Howard, She should be getting 60 ml daily, not 40 to 60, if you want her to regain her weight. doesn't matter how many feedings you do it in. I know you had her on Metronidazole before, but not enough. Should be 50 mg daily, not 34, and 1 dose is better. 30 mg daily would be for a youngster.
If you want her to eat better on her own, then don't feed her in the morning. Wait a while and see if she will eat because she is hungry. Skipping that first feeding encourages them to eat because they are hungry. If you start feeding early, then she has no reason to eat, as she never gets hungry.
 
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