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82861 tn?1333453911

Comfort for Dying Old Cockatiel

Petey, my 22 year and 5-month old cockatiel is dying.  It started over two months ago when he go sick.  He looked like the wild birds I've seen with West Nile virus.  Just when we were certain it was the end, Petey rallied but hasn't been the same since.  He's had loose stools off and on and has lost a lot of weight.  I've used moulting and conditioning vitamins as a supplement for several years, but it's not making any difference now obviously.  He does eat his regular seed, but not as much, and has trouble with his old favorite sunflower seeds.  A spray of fresh millet gets the biggest reaction out of him these days.  

He sleeps most of the time, keeps his feathers puffed up like he's cold, and seems to need his wings for balance more often than not.  There's certainly a loss of coordination.   Petey never would use a Happy Hut, so I have a small towel on the bottom of one corner of his cage that he likes to snug with.  Better than nothing.  During the worst of his illness, he wanted nothing to do with us.  In the past few days, he wants nothing more than to sit under my chin and sleep.

I want to do right by my little companion, so any hints you can offer for comfort measures will be greatly appreciated.  Petey was the first companion "child" that my husband I had. Life will be so strange without him, but I'm grateful for all the years we've had with.  He's never had one single health problem in all this time, so it's difficult to see him like this.  All I can think of is to keep him as warm and comfortable as possible until he's gone.  :-(
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Avatar universal
Regarding my message on June 7 to Elyzsmom, my 28 yr old cockateil who has had some strokes over five years ago, blind in one eye, and loses her balance, I purchased the sun deck platforms from fosters smith and put them in the midde of the cage so she can walk elevated and not fall off her perch.  They are great, in and outside the cage, and very inexpensive.  If the link doesn't work, the website is foster smith and search under bird accessories.  

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=5059+11295+8367&pcatid=8367
Helpful - 1
1 Comments
Thank you as I have so many walkways for my bird so he doesn't have to climb to much..my old man
Avatar universal
Re: Eating
Yes, you're right.  He hadn't eaten since Friday.  Late last nite, he finally ate some millet -- probably because he was starving.  He sat on my shoulder most of the evening, so maybe he felt better & got an appetite. He's also not drinking any water. :>(
Thanks for the condolences & the feedback.
Helpful - 1
Avatar universal
Karen, make sure your grieving bird eats, otherwise he will quickly get sick.  Give him as much millet spray as he wants and other treats. If he eats from your hand the attention you give him will help. If he doesn't like millet spray so much (most do) then find something else he likes. He has to eat.
Helpful - 1
Avatar universal
Karen, I'm so sorry you lost Figgy.  The loss is terrible and it's sad what you and Figgy had to go through at the end plus the sadness of her mate, too. I thought I would be ok knowing that my cockatiel Baby Boy had lived so long and that when he died that would be of comfort to me. It isn't. I, too, am so sad about the last couple of weeks of his life and his death two months ago after 27 years. The end was too painful for me to ever think that the 27 years of his presence makes up for it. I see why many people never get another pet.  I've lost many other much loved pets but this is the worst. He didn't want to go. He fought.

btw, maybe the Baytril helped with a developing infection and that's why she was doing better (and feeling better), but there might have been a serious underlying problem that weakened her and led to the infection and the lung gurgling.  So you did all you could possibly do but there probably wasn't anything anyone could have done about the root age-related cause. This is just speculation on my part but that's what it looks like to me. Similar thing happened with my Baby Boy. Worry, treatment, improvement, then decline and big disappointment.
So you have my sympathies.
Bob
Helpful - 1
Avatar universal
I sent you a private message regarding your bird.  I hope you will get him/her to an avian vet asap. 6 years old is young for a King Parrot. Don't just assume it's got an untreatable problem.
Helpful - 1
Avatar universal
Hello
I can understand. My bird Baby I think has had a stroke and my husband wanted to put her  down. Instead I put her   in a deep container with soft towels and water bottles for warmth.She knows I am trying to help her even though most people would laugh at me. I am getting her to eat and drink a little but she is very disorientated.She was born 6 years ago on 2nd november which is my husbands birthday.I am not sleeping and crying but I think she is suffering and I wonder if I am being selfish. she looks at me with her beautiful eyes as if she wants help. By the way she is a beautiful king parrot.I prayed to god to help her I hope he finds it in his heart to help. I will look after her regardless of other peoples comments I want her to be comfortable until she gets better or dies I know most vets would put her down so she is better off at home.
Helpful - 1
Avatar universal
I found this poem on a cockatiel forum and added the credits.
Maybe it will help someone here as it did me.

"I'll lend you, for a little while, a bird of mine, He said. For you to love while he lives, and mourn when he is dead. It may be six or seven years, or maybe twenty-three, But will you, till I call him back, take care of him for me? He'll bring his charms to gladden you, and shall his stay be brief, You'll have his lovely memories as solace for your grief. I cannot promise he will stay, as all from earth return, But there are lessons taught down there I want this bird to learn.

I've looked the whole world over in my search for teachers true, And from the throngs that crowd life's lanes, I have selected you. Now will you give him all your love - not think this labor vain, Nor hate me when I come to call, to take him back again. I fancied that I heard them say, 'Dear Lord, thy will be done.' For all the joy this bird shall bring, the risk of grief we'll run. We'll shower him with tenderness and love him while we may, And for the happiness we've known, forever grateful stay.

And should the angels call for him much sooner than we planned, We'll brave the bitter grief that comes, and try to understand."

Adaptation of the work of Edgar Guest, newspaperman and poet (1881 - 1959)
Helpful - 1
1 Comments
That's beautiful thank you
Avatar universal
I'm so sorry to hear about Petey. I have owned birds for over 35 yrs.  Birds will hide that they aren't feeling well. so when you start to notice that your bird is not eating and starting to sleep more and their feathers are puffed up and they start having loose droppings they need to see a vet yesterday.. keep him or her warm by putting a heat lamp on top of the cage.  To keep him or her warm on the way to the vet try putting hand warmers on the bottom of the box or carrier then cover with a towel. make sure that the towel does not become hot,  if it does add another towel, it should be warm to the touch. cover the box or carrier with a blanket and go.
Helpful - 1
1 Comments
I have had mine for 34 almost 35 years when do we know it's their time, as my baby just seems old at this point, but I did take him to the vet in his 20s with a cold and they saved him, he is now 34 and he's really old, having old man issues,
Avatar universal
Crying... I am so sorry for your loss. Everything you described I am now going through with my 26 yr. old ring neck dove, one of his legs went lame and today I notice the other one is lame as well he has been sleeping all day and his eyes seem glazed, I tried giving him a drop of insure which he loved and he wants nothing but to be sleeping. Will he go peacefully, that is my worst nightmare that he doesn't,  he seems very peacefull since this am and now.
Helpful - 0
1573808 tn?1295906400
yeh she eats like a horse which is good and will eat anything we give her, their favourite little treat is a nibble of cheese they go crazy for it haha not to often though so much salt in to. we have tried moving her perch down but she always climbs to the top anyway as she likes to be high up, she has no problems with climbing untill her beak gets to big then she gets stuck. still bullys the other 2 bless her, yeh we do what we can for them.
Helpful - 0
1596413 tn?1297321607
It's comforting to read these comments tonight. I'm 21 & my 21 year old Cockatiel Charlie is dying :( my dad noticed that Charlie was huddled in the corner of his cage all fluffed up. When I went outside to look at him you could tell right away that my little old guy is very sick and weak. He hardly reacts like he used to, but he was trying to sing as he stayed sat in that same corner. Occasionally he walks around the bottom of the cage and he still struggles his way onto his perch to eat some food. I don't want him to be in pain anymore but it is going to be really sad not hearing him and seeing him every day anymore like I have been used to my whole life.
Helpful - 0
187666 tn?1331173345
I'm so sorry to hear little Charlie is slowing down and nearing the end. He's given you many wonderful times and memories. Spend time with him if you can. He knows you well and will feel safe with you. That's all the comfort he needs right now.
Helpful - 0
1932143 tn?1323286656
My cockatiel is about 27 years old we have had him 15 years inherited when my Granny was moved to a nursing home (RIP) now today since noon Pretty Boy has gone into a state of paralysis at the bottom of his cage.  I talk to him and he comes back around and goes back to his perch.  This has happened twice in a 3 hour span.  Once he comes back to normal state he sings to me again.  He is eating and his stool is normal.  His cheeks are still a vibrant color.  We placed a cloth down to prevent him getting caught between the rungs of the grate but he got tangled so now we have paper down for him.  It is breaking my heart to see this.  He has been in our family for so many years and he always sings to me, dances for me, and lets me hold him but he won't do it for my husband. I am afraid to hold him now as he is quite fragile at his age.  I cannot imagine the silence that will fill our home without Pretty Boy.  Is there anything I can do?  I don't know if he is having strokes or what is causing this periodic state which just started.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
I found this site through a google search for how to deal with a dying cockatiel. My guy, Whitney, turned 27 on April 8, Easter Day this year. He has been with me since he was 2 months old. He has been slowly losing his mobility, falling off his perch, and his droppings are watery. An avian vet diagnosed him with advanced liver disease but did not give me the cause for his lameness.

His left foot apparently has no feeling although he is able to move his toes to grab onto the cage bars. I was shocked one day to observe him sitting on his perch with three toes facing forward and one toe facing back. Psittacines have two toes forward and two toes back! I wonder if he had a stroke that has affected his left side?

It was my belief that birds usually die suddenly and unexpectedly because they mask their illnesses. My sister recently lost a cockatiel and lamented that her bird had been "fine" the day before but was dead at the bottom of the cage the following morning. As for Whitney, I did not expect a long, drawn out debilitating illnesses. Whitney is still hanging in there. He's got a lot of spirit but it's so difficult to watch his daily struggles.

My heart goes out to all of you who have experienced the decline and loss of a special feathered friend.
Helpful - 0
187666 tn?1331173345
I think anyone who is in tune with their bird will notice some subtle differences when their bird is sick. It may not be obvious like vomiting or laying on the bottom of the cage but the bird may not be as vocal or not eating as much. We tend to just think they're having a bad day. But then we're surprised when we walk in and find them gone.

In the work I've done, I have seen some birds take days to fail. We keep trying to turn things around with fluids and meds but sometimes it just isn't enough.

As for Whitney, provide lower perches for him if he needs them and pad the bottom a bit in case he falls or needs to sit there at times. The harder surface can cause foot lesions if he spends too much time there. I'm sorry he's not doing well. Did the vet give any suggestions on dietary changes to ease the strain on the liver? Or maybe it's just a matter of time. So sad.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
I appreciate the information and suggestions, ireneo. I use layers of paper towels on the bottom of Whitney's cage now. Would you suggest using a towel or something else?

For Whitney's liver, the vet suggested Roudybush Formula AL ("Avian Liver") pellets, which I have added to his diet. I haven't switched him over completely for fear that he'll lose too much weight if he doesn't eat it. I mix the AL Formula with his Roudybush Maintenance Formula so as to switch him over gradually. I recently bought a digital bird scale with perch to monitor his weight.

His vet prescribed Calorad Supplement and Lactulose Syrup—a drop of each twice daily—to help his liver. Although I have administered medication in the past for short-term conditions, those experiences were stressful for both of us since Whitney doesn't like to be handled (except on his own terms). This time is no different except the duration is indefinite and I cannot look forward to an end date.

When Whitney sees me with the towel, he immediately scrambles to get away, tripping over his feet and extending his wings to make it difficult for me to grab him. After I get a hold of him and administer the drops, I put him back in his cage where he sits for hours looking dazed. Naturally, I feel guilty for putting him through this trauma, especially when he isn't feeling well to begin with.

A friend who had worked in the medical field suggested that I was ending Whitney's life even faster by increasing his heart beat twice daily. I took his advice and stopped the medications. (I hope that was the right decision.) Both medications take a while to build up in the system so I don't know if I would have seen an improvement in Whiteny's condition over time.

I am open to other ideas regarding how to administer medications without the trauma of catching him.
Helpful - 0
187666 tn?1331173345
The continued daily stress of handling is not good for him. And considering he is a companion bird, it's not doing your relationship with him any good. I worked for a short time at an Avian vet's office and the owner was never allowed to hold the bird during procedures, not even for nail clipping. The parrots have great memories and will not appreciate connecting "mom" or "dad" with something uncomfortable or scary.

Is there any way to put the meds on a treat for him and offer the treat? I'm doing that now with my cat who has cancer and poor kidney function. I sneak her meds into a kitty treat. Makes us both happy.

We do use towels at the wildlife care center for the birds but we have to be careful to watch for any loose strands of thread. If a towel has a tiny hole or shaggy edge, we toss it in the trash. I like towels that have no nap to them. Dish drying towels are like that, not terry but plain cotton. I use those for the small birds like juncos and finches, etc.

I use a kitchen digital scale for weighing small animals. It goes as low as 1 gram and that's worked out well, even for baby deer mice that only weight 2 grams when I get them.

Good idea to mix in the new diet gradually.

That's about all I can think of right now. The end of life care is difficult for them and for us.
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Avatar universal
Hi two off my birds died yesterday within half hour I lost a red necked Amazon which only had for 7 mths & a canary which I adopted (melody) I had her for 6yrs. My Rock pebbler (Roxi) is fine but I'm worried incase something happens her. The vet did a postmortem & said lungs were purple so obviously wasn't getting enough air, he was convinced could b carbon monoxide poisoning I bought a monitor & alarm hasn't went off, I'm so upset & torn can anyone help? Lynne
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2190601 tn?1338240205
I have a 13 yr old cockatiel and I think we're getting close to the end. He weighs 81 grams. But, he has a hard time maintaining heat and most of the time is not as active. I wish someone could give me some signs to watch for to know when I'm getting close cause it's going to seriously have a devasting affect on me!!!
Helpful - 0
187666 tn?1331173345
It sounds as though his entire system is slowly shutting down. He's underweight by about 30 g and he's having trouble thermoregulating. If his end is near, all you can do is provide comfort. Somehow add some heat nearby so he doesn't feel so chilled. Give him easy to digest food that he likes. He may drink more water or hardly drink at all if his kidneys are failing. Both are signs of kidney failure. He may become too weak to perch so provide a cozy spot for him to snuggle and feel safe. Reduce any stressors near him like noise and sudden movements.

Knowing when the exact moment will come is difficult to predict. The best you can do is make his last days comfortable. This is the hardest part of having a little animal "baby" at home. Our cat has been fighting cancer for the past year and the waiting is so hard.
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Avatar universal
We have a cockatiel who is about 10 years old. He has been very healthy and active. My husband accidentally shut his head in a door 2 weeks ago. I thought he would die, I cried and cried. He slept for 3 days, and I mean SLEPT. He woke up and is slowly coming around. However, I don't think he can see out of his left eye. I f you are on his left side, he doesn't really know you are there, unless you say something to him. He is also having trouble seeing in dim light. I notice he has trouble landing on things if the light is dim. Does anyone have experience with birds that are blind in one eye? will he adjust? I was going to take him to the vet, but his vet is about 1 hour away, and he is slowly getting better and I don't want to stress him out. He is such a good boy, and such a personality. Never thought I would get this attached!
Helpful - 0
187666 tn?1331173345
Yes, he will adjust. It's not like a hawk that needs excellent vision to capture food. The injury to the head may have caused some hyphema - blood pooling inside the eye. That may explain why he's having some trouble seeing in dim light. Generally that clears up in time. If there is damage to the retina (detached) then he'll never regain sight in the one eye.

I know the vet is far away but it still wouldn't hurt to have him checked, see what's going on in the eyes and check for any skull fractures.
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Avatar universal
I lost my little friend two days ago and my family and I are devastated. If anyone has any advice email me. ***@****
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
I lost my little friend two days ago and my family and I are devastated. If anyone has any advice email me. ***@****
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