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Thread: help with cockatiel arthritis

  1. #1
    Brand New Egg elozeau's Avatar
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    help with cockatiel arthritis

    Hi everyone,
    I'm hoping someone out there has some recommendations to help me. I got my cockatiel Obi last year, and he was always a bit clumsy but it was never anything serious and because I knew cockatiels had night terrors I though it was normal if he fell on occasion. I was told he was 4 or 5 but I brought him to the vet last week and she thought maybe he was much older than that due to his poor grip. He eats well, acts goofy and chews normally on his toys, droppings are good and his blood work was unremarkable. He just falls all the time! Sometimes when I pick him up his foot is curled in a ball and he can't seem to grip his perches (though he weirdly has no trouble gripping the cage to climb around) he just can't transition to the perches.

    Today I moved everything to the bottom of the cage and put a false top on so if he falls it won't be as far, but I was wondering if anyone else has any experience with this. He has rope perches he always loved, but now won't stand on them, and I wonder if they're not rigid enough? Recommendations about cage setup or pictures of what's worked? No matter what I do something is in his way since I reduced his space. I also wonder about getting a cage with horizontal bars, but I've looked all over and can't find any. Does anyone know of any good ones?

    I want to make sure he's happy and not hurt, and I think if I can just avoid making more obstacles without taking everything away from him he might be ok. The vet was wondering if his heart is bad, but his only symptom is being clumsy so if I can help that maybe he'll be ok.

    Thank you,
    Emily

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    Re: help with cockatiel arthritis

    Hi Emily,
    First, I am glad you took Obi to the vet. Is your vet an "avian" doctor? Second, besides rope perches, do you have other perches like wooden ones with different diameters? Some people don't like rope perches because sometimes birds like to chew on them and then they get stringy, two, they are harder to clean. I too use only one rope perch which is about 2" in diameter and bird uses it to sleep on. The rope is suppose to be more comfortable for their feet. It is also good to get different diameters so the birds feet are perched on the same diameter constantly, to prevent arthritis. Third, is there any kind of test that the vet recommended to test his heart? I have a wooden perch near his food dish which is about an 1" diameter, but it is easier to clean. Each person has their own views when it comes to cages. Some folks like cages that look almost like a condo and then there are others who prefer flight cages.

    You are doing your very best to make sure Obi is comfortable. Years ago, I had a cockatiel (Caesar) who developed arthritis in his wings and he couldn't rest them correctly anymore. He lived to be over 17 years old. I wish I had an answer about your bird being clumsy.. But from past experiences with my cockatiels, they all had their own personalities.
    Tango / White Faced Pied Male: Hatched on October 09, 2011 - Homed on April 28, 2012.

    Tiels:
    Bows / Normal Gray Hen: 1976 - 1984
    Caesar / Normal Gray Male: 1977 - 1994
    Piper / Lutino Hen: 1994 - 2010
    Woodstock / Normal Gray Male: 2004 - 2011

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    Tailfeather
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    Re: help with cockatiel arthritis

    Hi, and welcome to the community. I am so sorry your precious Obi is having this problem. What is his diet? Does he eat seeds, or pellets, or both? Does he eat fresh veggies and fruits? Do you ever give him vitamins? I am asking these questions to get a better feel as to his nutritional daily diet. Do you give him cuttlebone and or mineral block.

    Since more than likely he is older, it is possible he does have arthritis. I have read here on the forum, that feeding a small amount of pure honey each day, helps arthritis. You could take a small piece of whole wheat bread, top with the honey, and feed it every day. You could also use unsalted crackers with the honey. Or, even some dry cereals that have very little sugar or salt, such as grapenuts, or Cheerios, or cooked oatmeal or white rice with some honey on top.

    It will be difficult for him to not have plenty of room to move around. We know they like big cages. I feel a flight cage would be appropriate, one that is about 30 wide. And, since he is going to have to perch lower, I would suggest a cage of about 24-30 high. You can put the perches lower. Also, this cage should come with wooden perches. I prefer wooden perches rather than rope. And place the food and seed cups in as easy place for him to find and use.

    I admire you for bringing him into your home. Often times we do not have much history on adopted birds so that does make it more difficult to know what may have happened to him in the years before you got him.

    We will always welcome your updates. Please let us know how he is doing, and do not lose heart. Special needs birds are brave and courageous I have a 9 year old budgie who is now blind, and his blindness does not stop him at all!
    Last edited by maxollie; 11-19-2019 at 11:34 AM.

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    Brand New Egg elozeau's Avatar
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    Re: help with cockatiel arthritis

    Thanks for the replies. I did take him to an avian vet, and I just got the lab results back. Boy was she thorough, maybe too much though because now I'm more worried. She thinks he's a lot older, and is lacking calcium and blood protein although his diet and appetite are good. She suspects maybe a heart condition, and recommended upping his pain meds, adding another anti-inflammatory and a calcium supplement.

    She wants to do an xray but not in his current condition. I still think it could be arthritis. He used to be able to turn on his perch and now he barely makes it with help from his beak and can't get his footing right. He has a rope perch, a wide flat sandpaper perch, a bee pollen chew perch and one that's supposed to help his feet, it's a couple different shapes. He sleeps more now too.

    His appetite is still ok, he eats Roudybush pellets and a nutriberry, and I hand feed him some egg yolk, peas or broccoli. I'm trying to get him to eat carrots but he doesn't like them yet. The vet wanted to change him to eating Harrisons, but so far he won't take it, and I am going slowly, but since he's also sick I don't know if it's a good time to switch and have him end up eating less because he won't touch it. I had a cuttlebone in his cage but he wouldn't touch it. I haven't heard of using honey, I'll ask the vet when I see her next.

    I raised the floor of the cage, it's a 29x25x21 cage but he's falling from such a height I couldn't leave it like that anymore. I feel bad and found a flight cage that was a bit smaller with horizontal bars on the sides, but it still is big enough that I don't want to move him until he gets a bit stronger I think and risk him falling. I can't find one with horizontal bars all the way round though that also has the correct bar width..

    He's a weirdo and likes his perch front to back in the cage, so I need a cage with a door big enough but low enough that I can put it above the door and still reach him. I took away some perches and toys that were in his way so he wouldn't hurt himself as much if he fell, and cushioned the bottom. I'm just worried that all the meds will stress him out (it's already more difficult to get him out since I halved the size of the door, and it's one thing if the medicine will make him stronger and healthy again, but another if it's stress plus just a bandaid. ) He was always a bit clumsy, but I didn't know that was a red flag. I feel bad and wonder if I had got him to the vet months ago when it was just a fall here and there and mainly at night if I could have helped more. I just hope it's not too late to turn it around.

    That's incredible that your birds are doing/ did so well in similar tricky situations. That makes me feel like it could be ok.

  5. #5
    Tailfeather
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    Re: help with cockatiel arthritis

    I admire you for taking him to an avian vet that sounds to be excellent. Do not blame yourself. Since the vet feels he is much older than you first thought, some of the problem in my view is just old age. Yes, his deficiency in calcium is not a good thing, but I think you are on the right track to not upset him with changing diet now, because he needs to be eating nutritional foods, and you have provided him a good diet. If it were me, I would be adding a good cockatiel seed mix to his diet. One that does not have a lot of fillers. There is an excellent seed mix called Volkmsns Avian Science cockatiel seed without sunflower seeds. You can find that seed on Amazon.com. I am from the old school, per se, and pellets, have only been in a bird diet for about 10-15 years. Before then, we feed a good seed mix, and plenty of fresh veggies and fruits, along with the cuttlebone, and or mineral block. I have had good luck with this diet for my birds for many years. I do not feed pellets, however, do not stop feeding your bird pellets now. This is just my own choice to not feed them. Seeds are from nature, and in the wild there are no pellets for birds, for sure. Adding some seeds would be worth a try. Seeds are full of nutrition. Sunflower seeds have high fat content, and that can cause liver problems, if too many are eaten, so a seed mix without them in my view, is best. Have you tried fresh leaf lettuce and kale? Kale is very high in calcium content. As to the cuttlebone, crush some of it, and mix in with his seeds.

    The meds may produce looser poops, and also, he could be more quiet, and not his usual self, while taking them. For being older, in my view, he is in pretty good shape. Whoever had him, must have been a good caregiver, for him to survive for a long time.

    Do stop by and share how he is doing. And, again, I agree to continue on caring for him as you have been. I would be interested to know, if you do decide to give him some seeds, if you see a difference in the grip of his feet. In research I have done over the years since pellets became popular, I found that pellets can and sometimes do cause nuerological problems with cockatiels and other parrots, including their feet.

    We will watch for your updates!
    Last edited by maxollie; 11-22-2019 at 10:47 AM.

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