PDD (proventricular dilatation disease)

Formerly known as Macaw Wasting Disease

In addition to causing food to move through the gastrointestinal tract, motility drugs also help to strengthen the sphincter muscles to prevent reflux in humans. Maybe it helps do the same thing in birds. Carolyn

My vet has been using Propulsid in PDD birds to help them keep their gut moving…..he has a client who has a macaw who was diagnosed 2 years ago and the bird, with supportive care, is still happy and surviving well. I am happy to say my vet has ordered a book on herbs…….and has started to study…..could be interesting. Adriane

St John’s Wort is anti-viral and helps to heal the nervous system. Astragalus is antiviral and warming, Garlic is antibiotic and antifungal and warming. Digestive enzymes help digest the food making it more available. Probiotics digest the food producing metaboic by-products necessary for life.


PDD What a very grim subject but I find it interesting that holistic medicine can offer some hope at least, where as conventional medicine offers none. I’ve been told that PDD positive diagnosed (crop biopsy) patients have recovered under holistic care.

Treatment depending on the individual bird, possibly using St. John’s Wort, echinacea, digestive enzymes, probiotics and most important a good whole food diet, ( the first thing thrown out of a PDD patients diet would be pellets)…not necessarily a liquid diet, I suppose this would depend on how advanced the PDD case might be.

Some foods move more easily down the proventriculus where as others might tend to move slower, feeling stuck…so these would be foods to avoid with a PDD bird…I’ve been told that sprouts are one of the foods to avoid, due to this stuck feeling, not flowing easily down the proventriculus. I’ve also been told that greens move very well.

I know of an advanced PDD case, that was going to be euthanized (although this one wasn’t diagnosed by crop biopsy). As a last resort a Dr. was contacted and tried acupuncture and the bird started to turn around. Its an M2 and is now fat and happy from what I hear over 2 -3 yrs. later..but gets regular acupuncture treatments and will continue the rest of its life….

On the other side, conventional medicine treats PDD Patients that get bacterial infections with antibiotics…this seems to me to be the very worst method they could use. Anyway….I think its good to know that there is hope through holistic care for PDD birds.


Talk about grim, Shauna. My Conure died of PDD on Easter of this year and I am still trying to deal with his passing. To make matters worse, I have 31 other birds in my home ranging from Finches to a B&G macaw. Believe me I am worried and scared.


My condolences on the loss of your conure. I have only two pet birds who are very precious to me and I cannot imagine what life would be like w/o them. Even though you have 31 others, I can still see how the loss of one can leave a big empty place in your heart. On to pellets: I think the advice your vet gave you was the best of the ones in the list you posted. Harrison’s uses human grade, organically grown ingredients. Kaytee and Mazuri both have ethoxyquin. ZuPreem is very high in sugar and birds get addicted to them (at least my ‘tiel did before I knew any better). In addition, the Vit D3 level seems disproportionately high. Oh, and the fruit blend I believe, has artificial coloring and/or flavoring.

Noah’s Kingdom: I looked at the bag in a pet store and it appeared to be very good but I don’t know all that much. (They had only large bags, otherwise, I think I might have tried it.) I’d be uncomfortable too with this person’s advice since he recommended pellet brands I wouldn’t feed to a healthy bird, much less ones whose health is potentially compromised.

I talked to a man Monday who believes in the products ZuPreem fruit blend or mazuri. He said that they have been tested and proven to give good nutrition and that they are complete. In my opinion, no one pellet can be complete for every species of bird and I’m sure that the nutritional requirements vary within species depending on age, lifestyle, etc.

I’ve noticed that when I feed my two their grain, pasta and bean mix, that the ‘tiel goes straight to the grains and pasta and loads up on carbs first, whereas the Quaker starts with the beans, particularly aduki beans. To my uneducated eye, your diet appears very good. My only concern would be the source of the chicken and egg since I don’t trust commercially-raised meat/eggs/dairy but that could just be my own paranoia. I’m not positive but I think you could provide sufficient protein w/o the chicken and eggs. I hope I’ve helped some


I talked to Dr. Gregory who works with DR. Ritchie only a few weeks ago and was told the only way of diagnosis was by crop or proventriculas biopsy right now. I asked about the test I keep hearing about, but he again said, that the biopsy’s are all that are presently available. I get a lump in my throat thinking of possible euthanasia’s when a test does become available but I do hope a test is coming soon.

I’ve been told that the PDD virus is only stable outside of the host for 3-5 days and this is causing problems, because it can’t be cultured. I”ve heard from to many people, 3 local Oregon vets, a national holistic healer that they have been seeing an increase in PDD cases recently. these are confirmed cases, either through crop biopsy of live birds or necropsies…..and it scares me, scares me a lot. I

can’t help but wonder about rescue birds and what implications this could all have on them. Do do believe strongly that holistic care at least offers some hope. talking to a national holistic healer, that has been treating PDD patients since 1990, she claims to have had success, and again, these have been confirmed PDD cases, not possible differential diagnosis.

I feel that diet could be a big part of fighting it, and I’m not a pellet fan….. when one of my beloved ‘toos ended up with a kidney density I immediately stopped pellets, 3 yrs ago and have never gone back…so I do have my own, rather strong perhaps, opinions about pellets. They aren’t live food, the nutrients lost in processing are supplemented synthetically (I only use natural supplements such as wheatgrass, alfalfa).

In order for nutrients to be absorbed, enzymes are needed and pellets are enzyme dead…so nutritional absorption can’t be as good or as easy as natural whole foods. Also pellets (even the lowest ones) are high in iron, maybe a problem maybe not, but I think long term it could be a problem.

Some pellets contain ferrous sulfate….this inorganic form of iron destroys vit. E…. and if you feed your bird vit. C or the pellet contains C the absorption of iron is much more. I have trouble seeing the positive side of pellets. I go to great expense and work to feed an organic whole food diet to my birds daily. I also don’t ever use a microwave….

What is the slow form of PDD? Or is it that some birds are better able to camouflage their illness, until the end better than others? Or perhaps some birds immunity is stronger than others? Or somehow has the virus been transmitted to them differently, enabling it to move quicker? Is it the diet, or some nutrient that’s different. Is it really the virus that is slow or faster? I sure wish there were some answers. I swear this virus is a monster without answers or guarantees. I have a rescue bird that was exposed, but right in the middle of an exposed PDD flock…..

4 birds have died from that flock, and all neocropsied positive for PDD. I won’t put my bird through the stress of a crop biopsy… because of the stress involved. I refuse to give PDD any possible inch. Because she was a rescue bird, I did a baseline radiograph and 5 1/2 months later, on gut instinct alone, I asked for another x-ray….she has and continues to have (knock on wood) NO outward symptoms. She does however a slightly enlarged proventriculas, and some wall thinning, that showed up on radiograph and barium rad.

Because of her exposure, and at the time, being under stress and nutrient deficient (vit. A, calcium deficiency and I’m sure many more), I feel pretty certain that she has PDD…and Dr. Gregory seems to agree with me. She’s been in quarantine, but at this time, I wear a shower cap, change clothes, bath several times a day, disinfect everything, she has her own, steam cleaner, TV, scale….you name it!

Anyway, she’s being treated holistically, because allopathic medicine offered NO hope at all. I was offered antibiotics and refused them and was later told they would have been the worst thing I could have done (and actually after thinking about it, my allopathic vet agreed)…and thinking about them certainly didn’t make any sense.

Granted PDD attacks the CNS but malabsorption is also a problem, why would I want to give antibiotics, killing everything in her gut that could help with absorption?….She’s currently getting a good sized dose of saint john’s wort, mixed with echinacea (although there are other mixtures, depending on the bird and their response). She also gets enzymes sprinkled on every meal, including snacks that also contains other goodies for her…hers is specific for the liver, since her liver is much smaller than normal. And then Natren probiotics, natural supplements and an organic diet.

So far, 6 weeks and no symptoms…I’ll know more in another 6 weeks when I take her in for another x-ray. Her treatment could last 3 months to a year, about 6 months being average I’ve been told. If she pulls through this I’ll certainly let you all know…I’ll shouting it to the roof tops!….

My other birds, who checked out fine…and as I mentioned, were kept separate, but get the organic diet, natural supplements, probiotics which they’ve gotten for 3 yrs and now added to that, an enzyme formula, that also contains, echinacea, astralagus and shitake…..these have anti-viral among other properties.

There are no guarantees but I’m giving this my best shot and silly or not, I intend to win this battle. If this is a virus, I can’t see why it can’t somehow be fought off…but earlier detection certainly helps. Part of the therapy is also, happy time, playtime, making sure minds are kept busy, natural sunlight, outdoor time and fresh air….so working on the mental attitude as well.

Although I’ve always done this but just saying I feel it’s also an important part of fighting this monster beyond words…..all things I’m doing, are included in the word holistic.


I just wanted to add one thought here. I believe that PDD is being grossly misdiagnosed. Many birds that I have heard of, that were originally diagnosed with PDD, were treated for metal toxicity, and mysteriously got better.

Just anecdotal, but something to think about.

Regards, Linda

I agree on the rampant misdiagnosis of PDD. My own vet was quite eager to suggest this to me, several times…he regurgitated a couple times due to a crop infection. NOT losing weight, NOT passing undigested food, in fact gaining weight and in beautiful feather. On another note, I have heard lots of people bashing ZuPreem fruit blend. Is the sugar level so harmfully high?

I don’t know. Finny loves it. I find the colors don’t color his poop all that much, and if they do I know why! At least it does not have “E” in it. It’s not his only diet, he only eats about 20% of it. The rest is Harrison’s, fresh foods 2 x daily, etc. He gets alot of pleasure from picking out the colors and shapes, so I am not convinced it should be trashed. Linda

Hi Linda and Linda, You are both correct. PDD cannot be diagnosed based on symptoms. An enlarged proventriculus, regurgitation, wasting, stasis of the digestive tract, etc can all be caused by things other than PDD. Dr Ritchie has been working on an accurate test for PDD. Maybe someone on the PDD list can share how far along he is or if it is available. Until that is in place, there is no way to determine PDD except through biopsy of tissues and observing the presence of certain inclusion bodies. This is usually done during necropsy.

On the other hand, it’s easy to make assumptions because PDD is so terrifyng that it’s the first thing people think of when they see these symtoms. According to Dr. Ritchie, it is rapidly spreading and everyone is bound to be touched by it sooner or later.

Once the test is out, it will be good because you can have birds screened for the disease before you purchase them. Once the test is out, it will be bad because there will be mass euthanization of birds that test positive. Right now the only reason these birds are alive is because no-one knows if they have the antigens for the disease or not. I’d rather find a holistic way to help the birds fight the disease and overcome it.

Some viruses, like influenza and colds, can be overcome. Then the body is immune until the virus mutates. In the case of German measles, the body is permanently immune once overcome.

What I think I know about PDD  1. PDD is caused by a virus or virus-like organism  2. The same cellular inclusions are found in tissue samples of every PDD victim.  3. PDD has been found in native American wild birds, exotic parrots, exotic finches, and even in some mammals.  4. It seems to have originated in South America because it was first seen in some imported Macaws. These birds had been housed with poultry before being exported.  5. We don’t know the mechanism by which it is spread.  6. The disease jumps from one bird to another, skipping around. The mate to a victim may seem fine and another bird several cages away can die.  7. One bird may have many different cage mates, all of whom die of PDD, while this bird never gets sick. (Maybe this bird is a symptom-free carrier?)  8. Euthanized and necropsied mates of PDD victims have been found to be clear of the disease. Others have had it.  9. There are several forms of PDD a. attacks the nervous system of the digestive tract causing slow starvation. b. attacks the central nervous system causing neurological symptoms, tremors, paralysis, death. c. sudden death. Bird seems fine one day, is found dead in cage the next day for no apparent reason, but is diagnosed with PDD upon necropsy. d. What did I miss?  9. Some birds who have had PDD symptoms have seemly recovered but when necropsied upon death years later, had PDD inclusion bodies in their cells. (Does this mean they had PDD all along or does it mean they contracted it again at another time, or did they not have it the first time?)  10. More?

Questions I’d like answered  1. Are the inclusion bodies found in the cells the cause of the disease, a by-product of the disease, or just something associated with the disease?  2. Can these same inclusion bodies be found in animals who do not have the disease?  3. Does the lack of a nutrient or combination of nutrients make a bird more susceptible to the disease?  4. If nutrients are a factor, would these nutrients help the bird to fight off the disease? . Since the disease affects the nervous system, would nutrient support to the nervous system fight the disease?  6. What nutrients and herbs feed and heal the nerves?  7. PDD is not found in Australia. Is this because imports aren’t allowed or is it because of nutrients common in Australia?  8. Would a well-toned digestive tract of birds improve the bird’s chances for fighting the disease?  9. Would the addition of some grit to the diet improve the muscle tone of the digestive tract?  10. Do processed foods damage the muscle tone of the digestive tract by allowing it to atrophy?  11. What would digestive tract muscle-tone have to do with CNS effects? (A poorly toned digestive system is not able to absorb nutrients, even though they might be supplied. If they are not absorbed, the bird can still suffer malnutriton. Could it be that critical nutrients required for CNS health are not being absorbed?)  12. What do PDD birds have in common with other PDD birds?  13. Could flies be a PDD vector? What about fruit flies? Fecal dust?

Well that’s all I can think of for now. Anybody else?


Query, what is your basis for classifying PDD as a short lived virus. I have been told by Several DVMs and have read that it can have an incubation time of up to two years, is there new research to refute this info. Also, I understood that PDD was suspected to be viral because it left behind similar traces that other viruses have left behind in the cells that are affected, but, that an actual virus had not be detected yet.

By short lived- I am referring to outside of the body of the host. The virus dies very quickly outside of the body according to Dr Ritchie. This has been a big part of the reason that the virus has not been easily cultured- it dies quickly *outside* of the body. The virus keeps dying before it can be grown in the lab. This is making the research difficult. Incubation period with in the body has nothing to do with how long a virus is able to live outside of the host.

Dr Ritchie has isolated a virus that he feels is the cause of PDD. This virus has been isolated in birds ill with PDD & when it was able to be kept alive to be injected into other birds, has caused PDD. Dr Ritchie has not publicly released the family classification of the virus at this time.

Can wild birds get PDD? For many years I have saved the used seed from all of cages and dropped feathers and once a week I sprinkle them in the yard for the wild birds and squirrels. They eat the seed and the birds take the feathers to use in their nest building.

There have been some early indications that wild birds- can get PDD. There has been mention of PDD in non-parrot species at a couple of lectures I have attended. In fact, there is a chance that PDD may have come from the wild parrots through quarantine stations during the time importing was legal in the US.

Until we know the actual viral classification of the PDD virus & how the virus behaves, it will be difficult to say anything for sure. Any time you share feathers & food, there is a chance of spreading disease. Any viral or bacterial contaminated food can potentially spread that virus/bacteria to the wild birds it is fed to. Back yard bird baths are a great way to spread the pox virus from one infected bird to another & the potential for spread of the PDD virus would exist with the food.

Since PDD is a short lived virus, it may be difficult to spread this way, but the potential is always possible. I would also worry about bacterial infections as well


I read an article that talked of EEE Eastern equine encephalitis in relation to PDD I wonder if this is the disease he is researching. I wish I remembered the addy it stated that many diagnosed PDD also carried antibodies of EEE or visa versa.

Hi Danielle and Celery…welcome to the list. I’m sorry that you’ve ended up joining on such a grim note but I think you’ll find help here. çhelation therapies are very hard on the body…. just by going through each treatment, Celery has been through a lot and could use supportive care, through diet. I have a bird that’s highly suspected of having PDD but I’ve decided not to submit her to the stress of a crop biopsy.

She also has a small liver…a very small liver but she’s a rescue bird and what happened with her liver happened years ago. Whether she was born this way or possibly she fought off a severe chlamydia infection, we’ll never know…anyway, she is being treated holistically for PDD and her small liver has been taken into account and is also under therapy.

Has Celery ever had an x-ray before? so you have something to compare the current one to. Honestly, conventional medicine offered no hope for Nicholette…the attitude is more of a wait and see, she’ll eventually die attitude. I refused to accept this and made a panic phone call to Alicia McWatters, who quickly calmed me down by giving me hope. I amazed at what she was telling me and I believe strongly that there is hope but only through holistic help.

I’ve also talked to a Dr. that’s part of the PDD research team…there are no new advances or better testing at this time…. Nicholette has been getting holistic PDD treatment for 6 weeks now, no side effects and she remains happy, active, weight is good etc. She goes back in 6 weeks for another x-ray to check her progress. Her proventriculas is slightly enlarged and some thinning walls….. this can’t be fixed if its PDD, the damage will remain, but hopefully she’ll fight the virus off and we’ll keep damage to a minimum.

My other birds are also being treated preventively for PDD and their treatment is also individual, fine tuned to each bird after Alicia looked at their medical history, age etc. I feel they’ll be fine and I’m sure you can understand that thinking things will be fine, makes all the difference.

I was living PDD for 24 hours a day, waking up with cramps, nightmares, muscle spasms…until Alicia, through her kindness and supportive talks eased my mind and truthfully, if nothing else, I know that I’ve done my best, everything that I can do in my power.

So, my suggestion is to contact Alicia immediately. She has had success with PDD crop biopsy diagnosed birds. If its not PDD she’s also been very successful with her natural chelation treatments which I would highly recommend over conventional chelation programs. These would be much easier on Celery and most likely do a better job. You can find her at http://www.parrothouse.com Best of luck!


PDD or Zinc?

Several months ago, Celery became very unsteady, wobbly, and started having a difficult time perching. Took him to the vet, she did a cbc, and cloacal (sp?) swab. The results of these were normal. Next, we did a metal toxicity test, and it came back with an elevated zinc level. So, we gave him a round of dmsa. Seemed better, but after it was finished, symptoms came back. Another round of dmsa. Again, he seemed better, and a short time after we finished the meds, his symptoms came back, worse than ever. Meanwhile, we’ve completely changed his environment, cage, toys, dishes, everything.

Danielle, If you have changed everything, then I would ask the question: Why does he continue to test positive for zinc. Something or somehow, he is being reinfected with zinc. Whether it be the water, or maybe it is a malabsorption issue, something is going on here. I would look into providing a diet that blocks zinc absortion, similiar to the way spinach inhibits calcium absorption. You need to analyze everything you are feeding him and see what the zinc levels are.

Have you had your water tested for zinc? What about household accessories. There have been instances of birds dying due to zinc treated blinds. If you dust these blinds, they spread the zinc into the environment via airborne particles.

Two weeks ago, Celery had an xray, which showed no metal particles, his liver was slightly smaller than normal, and his proventiculus was slightly enlarged – although not as much as they would expect in a PDD case. I also found out that his liver enzymes had been elevated in the last blood test. They decided to do more bloodwork and another swab which showed normal bacteria only.

Zinc poisoning practically mirrors PDD. His proventriculus is enlarged and the degree of enlargement is questionable when you are dealing with any level of poisoning. His proventriculus could have been enlarged before the heavy metal poisoning and that could have been normal for him.

I believe his proventriculus is enlarged because it is irritated and it has nothing to do with PDD. His white cell count was normal, his liver enzymes (SGOT) were down to 565 (from 977 at last blood test), which is still elevated and a concern. However the bile acids were normal, which indicates that while the liver enzymes are elevated, the liver is still functioning normally….which is good. The concern now is that the problems he is having aren’t solely related to the zinc. They didn’t check the blood for zinc levels (which I thought they were doing). He is currently on another round of dmsa for the zinc, and the vet said that if we didn’t see improvement by Wed (7/5), then the symptoms probably weren’t from zinc, and that Celery likely has PDD. I was encouraged over the weekend, because he seemed to be improving, but yesterday he was very wobbly again.

How can you put a time frame on zinc poisoning? It would be just like putting a time frame on PDD. If he still has zinc poisoning, then you wouldn’t see an improvement by Wednesday. I think that was a foolish statement to make on his part. You have documentation that he has zinc poisoning (and is being reinfected with zinc) so why is PDD even on the drawing table here? The vet suggested a crop biopsy and/or a dye study next. Neither are going to conclusively tell us if he does NOT have PDD.

The vet did say that other things could cause the stomach dilation, but didn’t say what. I’m wondering now (didn’t think to ask at the time) what those other things are, if they are treatable, and if the tests the vet suggested would locate those problems.

I would not do a crop Bx on a “confirmed” case of zinc poisoning. That just doesn’t make sense to me. Am I missing something here or does anyone else thinks this sounds rather peculiar? A blockage would cause dilation, gram negative bacteria would cause dilation, sensitivity and/or a food allergy would cause dilation, and confirmed zinc poisoning would cause dilation. Just because you can’t see the zinc in x-rays doesn’t mean it is not there. The pro- ventriculus could be laced with zinc in minute amounts so it wouldn’t show up on x-ray.

I also asked the vet if the dmsa could be causing the elevation of his liver enzymes, and he said anything is possible, but didn’t seem to think that was it. I’m wondering if anyone here can suggest other things that might cause the dilation of the proventiculus. Celery is still having normal droppings, hasn’t regurgitated, and aside from being wobbly and unsteady, seems fine. He still sings and talks from time to time, and tries his best to rip our fingers off when we give him the dmsa 🙂 typical quaker bird!! Actually, I’m always glad to see him display that attitude – it’s closer to normal than when he’s being docile.

I don’t believe your quaker has PDD. I would analyze everything in his/your environment. I would look at his diet primarily. Go through everything you feed him on a daily basis, find a nutritional guideline and break down the food if you have too but the zinc is coming from some where and you need to find out where.

Karlene Sunday

Sorry if I’m a few days late in responding (I get the digest at the office), but an enlarged proventriculus does not always mean PDD. Following are two examples that my avian vet encountered, one with a happy ending. A woman posted to another list about one of her conures not eating, was acting listless, etc. Several of us from the same metropolitan area urged her to see our vet, who is not avian certified, but specializes in parrots. X-rays showed an extremely enlarged proventriculus.

Because the bird was so debilitated at that point, and because the woman had other birds to worry about catching a contagious disease, the vet assumed the bird had PDD and suggested she euthanise him. Reluctantly, she agreed, and upon necropsy the bird turned out to be impacted with cloth fibers that it had ingested from its cage cover. It was not PDD. The cloth fibers did not show up on the x-ray. The vet maintained that the bird was so far gone by the time he saw it that it wouldn’t have survived surgery to remove the material had he seen it first. We’ll never know.

Some months later I acquired a lovely mature wild-caught moluccan cockatoo named Grace. Since I have other parrots, I immediately dropped Grace off for a complete physical, including tests for all the P-diseases that were testable at the time. She was in tip-top shape, but her x-ray showed a slightly enlarged proventriculus. By this time, the vet was not about to jump to any conclusions, and just suggested we watch it over time. He said that if he showed the film to 10 vets, a third of them would say it’s still “within normal range”. I

called the woman who had picked Grace up from her previous owner of 15 years, and she mentioned that the owner was in the habit of giving Grace a whole orange and a handful of lettuce every day along with denser, more nutritious food, so Grace’s proventriculus may have been stretched by being filled with bulky foods. Two years later, Grace is happy, healthy, and eating well.

So, please don’t panic if an x-ray turns up an enlarged proventriculus, but of course, we don’t want to ignore it, either.

Sue vG

I have a Too who had a slightly enlarged proventriculus on x-ray. My vet said oh oh it is PDD. I have been feeding her formula and soft foods only for 2 weeks, before that she was given fruits , cereals, veggies with a few crushed pellets. When I took another bird in Monday for a checkup, I asked him how much the organ was enlarged. During the conversation he mentioned the” seeds” in the proventriculus.

Since the bird hadn’t had any seed mix when she was x-rayed, I flew home and treated her with Prozyme, Aloe Detox, and some anti-biotics. Her appetite is returning to normal. I don’t know what the stuff was, couldn’t be metal, plastic or whatever. Some icky looking stuff came out in her poop a couple of hours after I treated her with the Prozyme. She is very perked up today. I’m saving the stuff and sending it to the lab.

There are also some bacterial infections which will cause an enlarged proventriculus I found out. Also PDS, which mimics PDD, but is thought to be bacterial inside of viral.


Gosh, that was a very bold statement for any vet to make, based on one x-ray with only a slight enlargement, but unfortunately, it does happen much more than it should and has been happening for years. I had a similar scare almost 4 yrs. ago but although PDD was mentioned it was only mentioned as a possibility and I was assured that it wasn’t time to panic and told of other possibilities, mostly an irritation was suspected.

Another radiograph was done in 30 days and all was back to normal. I know of someone with a bird who was told it had PDD, after only one x-ray and a slight enlargement. She took the bird home and later it passed something and everything is fine. Problems that can enlarge the proventriculas other than PDD are toxicity’s, bacterial infections, blockages (which aren’t always easy to see in a rad), fungal infections I believe and growths that might be blocking food from passing through easily. What little I know about it, I would think that a slight enlargement usually wouldn’t turn up red flags saying PDD, unless there were other circumstances to support a possible PDD diagnosis.

Of course it would be something to watch for, or suspect and if caught early, you’d have a better chance of turning it around. I just wanted to add that I’ve read that its not unusual for young birds to have a dilatedproventriculus…seems that the vet would have known that…. it always scares me, hearing of vets who miss what I feel would be basics, if I’ve been able to read about them.

Crop biopsy or proventriculous biopsy are the only way to diagnose a bird of having PDD at this time and if the biopsies return neg. it still doesn’t rule out PDD, especially if other symptoms are present. What I’m not seeing mentioned anywhere about x-rays, is that not only should a vet be looking at a proventriculous enlargement, but they should also be looking for wall thinning… this as far as I know is also important to note and watch when trying to make a diagnosis.


PDD / PDS Reprinted in part from material submitted for publication to the Journal Association of Avian Veterinarians: As it became apparent that the disease occurred in psittacines other than macaws, a more general terminology was used to describe the syndrome, including proventricular dilatation, proventricular dilatation syndrome, psittacine proventricular dilatation syndrome, psittacine wasting syndrome, proventricular hypertrophy, proventricular dilatation of macaws or psittacines and proventricular dilatation disease.1,5,7-17

Various terminology also has been used to encompass the pathological features of this disease, including neuropathic gastric dilatation of Psittaciformes, myenteric ganglioneuritis, proventricular and ventricular myositis, psittacine encephalomyelitis and infiltrative splanchnic neuropathy.

Karlene Sunday

I also know of a PDD misdiagnosis. Some young birds were xrayed after being drug away from their food dishes, from which they had eaten for about 2 hours. The proventriculous (and crop) were both enlarged. The vet wanted to put all the birds down immediately, but the owner would not stand for it. Turns out the proventriculous was just full of food. An enlarged proventriculous on xray is not conclusive for PDD.


I had three baby Blue and Gold macaws that were misdiagnosed with PDD a few yrs back We sent out the tests and they came back negative. The tests did however show Vitamin D toxicity from Exact handfeeding formula, or so I was told it was the formula. Babies have swelled proventiculars until they reach about a yr old and many babies have been misdiagnosed over the years. It was a terrible time for me and my partner, especially when we lost the last baby on Thanksgiving Day three yrs ago. The really ironic part is the same vet who diagnosed spoke at our club meeting and later gave the info on babies having large or swelled proventiculars and how many times it has been misdiagnosed.


My mom was telling me about a show she saw on TV…I missed it. Apparently there are 700 holistic vets in the US now (anyone else see it?). When they were asked why they’d changed their practice to holistic, their answer according to my mom was that allopathic medicine doesn’t work. I’m not sure I can agree with that completely because I feel each should be able to work together ( I just have more to learn about holistic medicine right? ), but I found it interesting. I will say this, and those tired of hearing me talk about PDD can delete now 😉 but allopathic PDD treatments don’t make any sense to me.

PDD patients often get bacterial infections, so are bombarded with antibiotics which would compromise the immune system, making it less able to fight off the real problem, PDD. Allopathic vets of course most often don’t know of an adequate healing, immunity diet to recommend..often recommending pellets which lack enzymes and such and would in my thoughts, be on the opposite end of the spectrum of what would be needed by a PDD patient.

These past months I”ve watched while my dear friend has lost 4 birds to PDD, all treated conventionally. They went into the vet with general signs of illness, maybe some regurgitation or undigested food in their droppings, the x-ray would show a blown out proventriculas. they’d come home or stay in the hospital and be treated with antibiotics for bacterial infections and improve for a day or two, only to become worse after that, then maybe a little better for a short time but it was a roller coaster ride, one ended up with a severe yeast infection.

Granted, her birds didn’t show signs until the cases were well advanced, but less advanced cases would be treated the same. It seems to me that conventional medicine only contributes to the advancement of PDD in the patient, if that’s truly what the patient has……. a good reason in my mind for a allopathic vet to learn and switch to holistic care. 700 holistic vets…. I found that encouraging, although on the other side of that, I suspect that many of those holistic vets are young newly graduated vets, just out of school, lacking experience which is also very valuable and takes time but we certainly have a brighter future ahead for animal care.