This is a long overdue update on Keet, my little green budgie hen who has chronic digestive problems (general sick bird symptoms, vomiting, doesn’t eat) when she is under stress from molting. (She has been to the vet many, many times, been treated for various things, but still has the chronic problem.) She had started with one of her episodes on a Sunday morning (no vet available until Monday evening), so I had written to this list asking for suggestions on anything I could do to at least keep some food in her to keep up her strength.
I really, really appreciate all who posted back to me and apologize for being so tardy in giving an update.
I am happy to report that she is her happy, active self this morning, flying for the joy of it, singing, stealing food from the parrots’ gym dishes, bossing her mate around.
Her episode of illness wasn’t one of her more serious ones … she never quit eating entirely, and she remained very difficult to catch (always a good sign of strength!) when she saw me coming with the syringe. At least to my very careful observation she appeared to be really eating a bit, not just grinding it up and dropping it (as is typical with megabacteria), but there was only a tiny amount of fecal material coming out the other end until Monday evening. As is typical, several hours after she started vomiting she went into an “accident in a pillow factory” big molt.
Two of the suggestions given were to try some ginger (as suggested I made a tea by soaking some fresh ginger in some hot water) and some slippery elm. It took me a while to get the ingredients, so I wasn’t able to try the herbs until Monday. I tried the ginger first, on Monday morning. She did go eat some soon after I gave her the tea, but she had been eating a bit all along, and her droppings remained the same (very scant fecal material). I gave her the slippery elm Monday afternoon. She was considerably better by Monday evening … eating well and droppings back almost to normal.
But…that is about the typical length of one of these chronic episodes, so I don’t know if it was the slippery elm that helped or just that she would have gotten better at that time anyway.
The herbs certainly didn’t hurt. I can’t definitely say whether they helped or not. I have them on hand now so I can try earlier in one of these chronic episodes next time it happens.
The fact that she seemed to be eating, but nothing was coming out the other end has me a bit puzzled. I’m wondering if her whole digestive system kind of slows way down during one of these episodes. A prescription medicine that does seem to help her during one of these episodes is Reglan, which aids in getting a digestive tract functioning again, so that would be another clue that perhaps there is something with her digestive tract slowing down here. On the other hand, she once had a barium series (sequence of x-rays tracks the progress of a barium “milkshake” through the digestive tract) when she was having a really, really bad episode, and we were looking whether there might be an obstruction or tumor or something going on. The barium series showed a normal transit time through the digestive tract.
Malcolm Green had also suggested that I consider trichomoniasis as a possible root cause (my vet and I had already tested for a gazillion other things, but not that.) She hasn’t been specifically tested for trichomoniasis, so I will definitely discuss that with my vet next time we are in. My big professional avian vet reference book indicated that trichomoniasis is very common in budgies in Australia (where I think Malcolm Green is?), but that it was still rare (although not unknown) in the USA … although the book is about 5 years old, before megabacteria became a USA problem too. No one on my budgie list seemed to have ever had a trichomoniasis diagnosis among the budgies in the USA. If anyone knows anything about the current prevalence of trichomoniasis in the USA, I would be very interested in hearing. (If it is still rare in the USA, that doesn’t mean she couldn’t be one of the rare cases, but it would decrease the probability…)
Again, thanks so much for your help!