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8 Most Common Disorders of Psittacines

Oct 16, 2018, 4:20 PM

1) PERCEPTION: Scruffy, lethargic “sick” bird
Reality: Malnutrition leads to issues, such as:
• Hyperkeratosis
• Malformed and mal-colored feathers
• Fatty liver. Liver detoxification ability is reduced, causing lethargy and a poor appetite
• Weak immune system
• Susceptibility to common environmental bacteria
• Enteritis, loose stool, passing whole seeds

2) PERCEPTION: Self-mutilation
Reality: This condition has many varied causes that affect multiple organ systems.
• Malnutrition is frequently involved at some level and may be pansystemic, including
disorders of the reproductive system.

3) PERCEPTION: Trauma
Reality: Malnutrition leads to increased risk for injury.
• Malnourished birds are more fragile and thus more susceptible to injury (i.e. long
beak and nails, persistent pin feathers).
• The actual injury is usually related to husbandry issues, such as flight, toys,
other pets, or wildlife or owner roughness.

4) PERCEPTION: Breathing difficulties
Reality: Malnutrition and poor husbandry lead to:
• Loss of columnar epithelium, goblet cells and increased stratified squamous
epithelium in the entire respiratory system.
• Increased cellular debris (liths) in the respiratory system, including nares.

5) PERCEPTION: Behavior issues
Reality: Malnutrition leads to aggression.
• High-fat and carbohydrate-rich diets lead to aggression from overactive hormones,
resulting in biting, screaming and other inappropriate behaviors.
• Getting the bird to follow the correct diet is the first step to proper behavior.

6) PERCEPTION: Tumors and growths
Reality: Malnutrition leads to general susceptibility to growths.
• Early growths are often lipomas.
• Later, these are often complicated by xanthomas.
• Associated muscles may weaken and droop.
• These tumors are often difficult to suture.
• Correct diet with preconditioning.

7) PERCEPTION: Overgrowth of beak and nails
Reality: Malnutrition leads to increased unnatural growth.
• Major sign of underlying illness.
• Hyperkeratosis adds layers of keratin.
• Fatty liver causes vessels in beak and nails to proliferate like founder in horses.
• Wild birds do not need beak/nails trimmed.

8) PERCEPTION: Heavy metal toxins
Reality: Malnutrition drives unnatural appetite.
• Pica (malnutrition symptom) is the driving force for over-consumption or seeking
metals like lead and zinc.
• Obvious exposure is self-explanatory.

THE EASY SOLUTION?
Prevent malnutrition by properly feeding Harrison’s Birds Foods and using HEALx supplements.

* Adapted from a 2012 presentation at Iowa State University - College of Veterinary Medicine by Greg J. Harrison, DVM,
Dipl Emeritus ABVP- Avian Practice, Dip ECZM (Avian) (retired) Final article from HBD Avian Examiner Issue 34

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