Amazon with Fatty Liver Disease
One day in June 1999 I realized after 12 hours that Jerico, a 13 year old female blue front Amazon, was vomiting and we rushed her off to the vets at 10am. She was diagnosed as having fatty liver disease probably due to aflatoxicosis. I don’t know if her liver was enlarged or not. She is still alive today, although she did stop breathing when the vet was doing a biopsy 2 days after we first took her in.
Aflatoxicosis can be contracted from peanuts. None of our birds get peanuts nowadays. Being overweight, at one point she was 550g, and eating high fat foods like sunflower seeds and french fries were also contributory factors. Her diet since June 99 is pellets, fruit and veggies. She gets a lot of beta carotene rich fresh food. In September 2000 her weight was down to 485g. At one point at the end of October ’00 her weight dropped to 475g.
She gets a herbal concoction daily which includes milk thistle and dandelion. Recently she developed a vomiting reaction to it, I think because the liquid mix of dandelion and milk thistle may have alcohol in it. I reduced the amount of the mix and increased the amount of a separate liquid containing milk thistle and SAMe (a mix which does not have any alcohol). There was a noticeable improvement in her activity level and vocalization when I did this and the vomiting reaction ceased.
She is much more active and vocal than she was during the last two years, though she still sleeps more than the other birds and still always perches on both feet. Her feet which were pale grey and had a yellowish tinge have lost the yellow color and the grey is starting to darken.
During the hot weather her breathing is labored yet none of our other birds do this unless they overexert. I’ve been wondering if she has aspergillosis (her cage substrate used to be corn cob) but if that was the case wouldn’t she have this problem all year round? (Her WBC is normal.)
Leanne, at one point I think you wrote that dandelion shouldn’t be used for some types of liver problems. If so, do you have a source?
I would never suggest giving a tincture (herbal extract) with alcohol in it to a bird on a regular basis. The liver is what has to process the alcohol. It’s not hard to find both milk thistle & dandelion in glycerin extracts. Dr. McCluggage sends me mine, that way he can give me a specific dosage, not all extracts have the same potency. My source for not using dandelion with all liver cases is Dr. McCluggage’s book, p 146. It states: “It is of particular benefit in treating liver disease when there is a buildup of biliverdin (yellow-stained urates in the droppings) and when associated with the buildup of fluid in the abdomen (ascites) that often develops with liver disease. It has little or no direct effect in healing liver cells or protecting them from damage. Some veterinarians claim that dandelion and milk thistle should always be used together. This is not true because many of the disorders of the liver are not associated with bile retention and dandelion’s diurectic effect will reduce blood flow through the liver, potentially harming it.”
Bocephus had both bile in her urates & ascites, so she benefitted from the dandelion. In fact at one point I was juicing it with carrots & giving it to her daily. Carrots are cleansing to the liver & beets are even more cleansing, therefore she be used in small amounts at first. There’s a bird I bird-sit for that shows no obvious signs of liver disease, but when fed carrots/beets will release bile in the droppings.
Aflatoxins can also be commonly found on corn. COrn for human consumption has to meet certain standards of aflatoxins parts per million, however the standards for animal feed are far above what is considered safe for people. You can often find corn in seed mixes. Therefore, I do not feed my birds any food that is not formulated by the standards for humans.
It sounds like your bird’s diet was enough to induce FLD without her consuming any aflatoxins!
I’m sure you have read how much Dr. McCluggage has helped my quaker with fatty liver disease. If you consult him, I’m sure you could move forward to more healing with this bird. SOunds like she’s at the point Bocephus was at when I consulted Dr. McCLuggage the first time. The only differences I see being that she is tolerating more fruits/veggies in the diet than Bocephus would & that Bodephus sought warmth, we kept the room at 80′ or so. Within 2 months on Dr. McCLuggage’s supplements there was tremendous improvement!! She is now off pellets & we keep the room at a lower temp.
The panting in warm weather can have many causes, two of those being fluid retention or an enlarged liver. Your post almost sounds as if you’re satisfied with where the bird is at, I do hope you’ll consider consulting a holistic vet, because I feel much more progress could be made. I chose Dr. McCluggage because of his over-10-year history using holistics in birds specifically and his experience with liver disease specifically. With the right supplements, the fat can be pulled from the bird’s liver and the liver will regenerate. THis bird could possibly be cured of FLD. That’s what we’re working towards with Bocephus.
I would discontinue any supplements with alcohol & find ones with glycerin. I can dig up a source on the internet if you can’t find one locally. I believe these are formulated with glycerin, contact the company to verify: http://petsage.com/remedies/formula.html. I have great respect for Mary Wulff-Tilford & wouldn’t hesitate to use her products, they will be of the highest quality.
The bird will also benefit from the ellimination of pellets from the diet, however you must ensure she consumes a wide variety of foods. I would suggest following Dr. McWatters mash recipe or the diet guidelines found in Dr. McCluggage’s book. Reduce the amount of pellets slowly, eliminating them over the period of a month or so.