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No Simple Answer for Bird's Losing Feathers

September 01, 1988|Dr. GLENN ERICSON | Ericson, a practicing Orange County veterinarian, is president of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Assn

Q: I have two cockateels, both female. They have been together for about three months and have been no problem until recently. One of the birds is starting to lose her feathers from her wings and legs, while the second one is OK. They eat the same seed and fruit. Do you think the first bird is sick? What medication should I give her?

Mary Welks


A: Feather loss is common in caged birds but does not always have an easy answer. There are two major reasons for feather loss--behavioral and medical--and each has different methods of treatment.

Medical causes of feather loss include nutritional disorders, parasitic infestations such as mites, hormonal or metabolic diseases, and infections. A bird needs to be examined in order for a diagnosis to be made.

Behavioral loss can be due to stress, boredom, changes in environment, or incompatibility with other birds. The loss of feathers is generally confined to areas that can be reached by the bird, such as the feet, wings, and breast or back, which seems to be the case with your bird.

I recommend having both birds seen by your veterinarian. He will look for possible medical reasons for the feather loss. If none is apparent, you may have to separate the birds and see what changes may be causing the problem. This can be very difficult, but you must be thorough.

Q: I would like some advice on what brands of food I can feed my cat. Our veterinarian has been treating her for urine blockage. He recommends food that I can only buy from him, and it's very expensive.

Ann Wells

La Palma

A: Cats with feline urologic syndrome have specific dietary needs. There are very few commercial products that meet the required standards. Such diets need to maintain uniformity from case to case every time in order to be effective. Because of these restrictions, specific diets, such as the one you mention, may cost more, but you may be able to mix a similar one. Talk to your vet.

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