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QUESTION: Please Help!!! My pigeon first became sick about 4 months ago.Puffed up,severe weight loss,very light,trouble flying,and I noticed a slight stumble once in a while when she walked.I contacted Foys and they recommended Coxiworm and a seven day dose of Furazolidon(for Ecoli and salmonela) Did both and she did get better but never 100%.She never regained the weight.She stayed very light and when you pick her up you can feel her breast bone really bad.Now here we are 4 months later and those same sign are back.Sits puffed up,does not want to fly and my daughter saw a worm on her rear area.So I gave her another coxiworm tablet and started the Furazolidon "again" I am on day 5 and she seems the same.She has never been vaccinated.Her diet is a wide mixure of seed and she gets the oyster shell and mineral mixture from Foys(grit)What else can I try???Amoxicillin?

ANSWER: Hi Kim,

Sorry to hear about your pigeon. How old is she? Is she kept with other pigeons? Is she around wild birds or rodents?

Severe GI parasites can certainly cause the dramatic weight loss and unkempt appearance. Is there any way you can take her to an avian veterinarian for a check-up or submit a fecal sample for analysis?

Has her appetite remained normal? How do her droppings look? Do you remember what the worm looked like? Any other abnormalities you have observed (difficultly breathing, trouble eating)?

In order to prevent reoccurrence, it is important to keep her cage/loft clean. This means keeping wild birds and rodents away from her and removing her droppings and cleaning feeders and drinkers on a daily basis to prevent her exposure to the parasites.

I would recommend visiting a veterinarian and submitting fecal samples for analysis. This way, you can be sure to find what GI parasites she has and treat accordingly. This may also determine if there may be something else going on since she has not gotten better.

Let me know if I may further be of assistance.

Stacie






---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you Stacie for your response.I dont know of any vets that see birds in my area.I am going to check around again on Monday.I will try to answer some of the questions you ask.She is about Three years old,she is kept with one other  adult female pigeon which she has been with for two years.The loft is a very large 6 ft cage,all sides opened up during warm weather.Squarrels,chipmonks ect play all over the cage.With only the two birds, cage stays pretty clean.I have also used a recommended bird disinfectant "now" to clean cage.She is light as a feather and I can feel her "breast bone really bad",but she is still eating and although she can hardly fly she does seem to have the energy to peck at me and still puts up a fight when I try to catch her.I have brought her in for the past 5 days to make sure she can get to her seed and water.See last post for medications I am giving her.I am day 5 of meds and she still can barly fly.Is there a common parasite that the coxiworm does not kill? Should I try another coxiworm capsule in "10" days? What parasite medication can I order until I find a vet? My other pigeon has never been sick.What would be a great wormer that covers more than the coxiworm?Droppings do seem alittle green but not real sure if adnormal.She does stay puffed up alot but feathers look fine.Eyes clear,mouth clear.I do care about her and will try to find a vet but what should I do now.Is there a high calorie pellet I can give her to help until I figure this out? Sounds like I need a broad spectrum wormer? Thanks for any help Stacie,KIm Johnson

Answer
Hi Kim,

Thanks for the update. It sounds as though you give her a good diet to start with. Pigeons need a variety of seeds, grains, and grit in their diet. Supplementing with a pellet may help, but I cannot offer any further advice on this as I have never fed my pigeons a pelleted diet. One thing they do love is Safflower seeds, which are high in protein and fat and can be added into their current diet. What specifically do you feed her currently? Raw, unsalted, unshelled peanuts are also high in protein and fat and are often given to birds to help with weight management. They should also only be given to supplement their diet. If you are interested in pelleted diets, I am sure Foy's Pigeon Supply may have recommendations for you. (I also purchase my pigeon products from them.) Or you can ask your local feed store if they carry pigeon pelleted diets. But really, any complete pigeon mix should be adequate. How often do you feed her?

The reason I suggest a veterinary visit and fecal exam is to confirm the type of parasite or bacterial infection present. This way, you will be given the correct medications to target the parasite/bacteria as not all medications will be effective towards the same thing. I have read the Coxiworm medication on Foy's and it seems as though it is formulated to target the most common GI parasites, including coccidiosis. The product is to be administered every 12 weeks if there continues to be a problem. However, to control cestodes (tapeworms), praziquantel is administered once and then given again in 10-14 days. But if nematodes are present (ie. roundworms) a different medication is to be used to target them, such as pyrantel pamoate, which is also administered again in 10-14 days. (Dosages are based upon the weight of the bird and milligrams of medication to be used, mg/kg.)

Because of this, it is a bit difficult for me to recommend a certain medication. I think any of the combination medications towards cestodes and nematodes Foy's offers (Coxiworm, Wormout Tablets, etc.) should be fine to administer since we don't quite exactly know what is going on.

Her weight loss and weakness could also be related to parasitic infection as the worms absorb the nutrients that are meant for the bird and use them for themselves. This causes the pigeon to become malnourished and weak. I see that you are also using furazolidone for salmonellosis, which can also cause weakness (reluctance to fly, stumbling) and weight loss. Since this is an antimicrobial, I would suggest the use of a probiotic to help replenish the "good" gut bacteria that may be killed off during its use (can be found at Foy's).

I think it is a good idea to separate her from your other pigeon and to keep her inside to monitor food and water intake. This will also be a good time to monitor her droppings and to look for additional worms or abnormalities. Are her feces watery or well-formed? This will also make it easier to ensure her cage is cleaned daily and food and water cups changed and disinfected regularly.

Finding a veterinarian to examine her will be most beneficial. I think Foy's used to offer fecal analysis, but I am unsure if they still do this.

I'm afraid there is not a whole lot more I can offer besides the recommendations I have given. Continue searching for a veterinarian near you in the meantime and be sure to record what abnormalities you see as this will be helpful information for the veterinary staff. Bringing a fresh fecal sample in a Ziploc bag will be very helpful. Perhaps you may be able to just drop a sample off for them to look at under microscope?

I hope you find this useful and are able to determine the cause of her illness for treatment. Keep me updated and let me know if you have other questions.

Stacie  

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Expertise

I can answer questions related to health, care, behavior, and breeding. If you have an emergency situation, please take the pigeon to a veterinarian with avian experience. Unfortunately, I do not know much about actually racing pigeons, but I have shown exhibition king pigeons.                                                                                    *To learn more, visit my blog:

The Pigeon Loft

Experience

I have raised pigeons for over 15 years now. I got started in the hobby by rescuing an injured feral when I was 6 years old and successfully rehabilitated him. From that feral, I actually realized that pigeons were great companions and I had dismissed any previous misconceptions I had heard about them. I have focused my attention to the show king although I do have a few racing homers, utility kings, and MFC helmets. I no longer breed and show my pigeons at the moment, but I would like to continue with the hobby.

Organizations
National Pigeon Association (past member); American King Club (past member); The Wildlife Society; Wildlife Disease Association.

Education/Credentials
Mainly self-taught with my own experiences, but I have supplemented my knowledge with books and information from NPA and AKC. Biomedical Sciences (BS), Colorado State University 2010; Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), Colorado State University 2014.

Awards and Honors
Numerous Best of Breed and Reserve of Breed awards in 4-H shows; Two Best in Shows acquired while in 4-H (12 years ago!); Reserve Champion pigeon showmanship 4-H; Best of Show and Reserve of Show in county fair.

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