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Last Post 01-06-2013 4:09 AM by  SharonH
feather problems
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Paul
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30-05-2013 7:01 AM
    Hi I have a scarlet macaw called ruby who has taken to feather plucking under her wings, She is about 10 years old and not the best behaved when it comes to being handled. She was not hand reared and although she has her soft moments I think she suffers from nervous aggression.
    I was appalled to read that although I have paid an expensive insurance policy since having her they will not cover treatment for feather plucking. Getting her to a vet is a major mission and after reading information on the net the cost for tests will be around £500. I have tried sprays for soothing and taken diet advice, I installed a UV lamp over her cage but none of my efforts have shown improvement. 
    I am not asking for free treatment but I could not afford a £500 bill could you help please.

     

    http://i892.photobucket.com/albums/...LE1121.jpg

    I cant figure out how to post photos

    Debs
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    30-05-2013 8:17 AM
    I don't like to post and run but am 'on the go' and I am sure people will be along soon to help you out with the 'plucking'......

    I just wanted to say that you may wish to question your insurer as often feather plucking is a symptom of an underlying illness and if it is then it IS usually covered. It is only if it is diagnosied as 'self mutilation' that it is not covered so as your bird has not been seen by a vet and no diagnosis has been made then I am unsure how they can outright say that it isn't covered.

    I'll check back later this evening and if no one has offered advice on the plucking then I will talk to you :-)

    YOu will probably be asked a few questions so you may want to post the answers to these...

    Has she just started doing it? If not how long ago did it start?
    Has there been any changes at all (however silly)..a new cage, a new home, a new pet, a new baby, a new haircut (for you not the bird...LOL) has she laid eggs recently?....etc..etc..
    Is it getting worse or better or staying the same?
    Is she showing any other signs of illness? off her food? lethargic? not as chatty?

    etc etc
    Paul
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    30-05-2013 10:28 AM
    Thank you for your reply in answer to the questions
    It started about 10 months ago I spoke with the dealer I purchase her from to be told not to worry this is quite common in hen birds,
    Her environment is basically the same although she does have a large cage she lives on top of it 24/7 and is free to fly around in our open plan lay out. we did get a new puppy after our German Shepard pass away but she has always seemed unworried about our other pets ( 2 cats also ) She rules the roost so to speak and will see off the others when they are around her. I did find an egg but I considered the cats had brought it in (it was on the lounge carpet).
    The area she is plucking has got worse over the 10 months and has gone from under her wings to across the back and leg tops. With the wings folded you can't tell she is doing it. It has been such a slow progression its hard to tell if she will confine it to those areas.
    No signs of illness other than the plucking, she will eat well and is very alert and ready to receive any attention. Her diet consists of Kay-tee, Harrisons, she gets fresh fruit every day and has a treat bowel with nuts and dried banana. I still cant figure the picture thing but if you copy and paste the links into your address bar if may be possible for you to see the damage.
      
    http://i892.photobucket.com/albums/ac124/willip2/FILE1121.jpg

    http://i892.photobucket.com/albums/ac124/willip2/FILE1117.jpg

    Hope this helps
    Kerstin
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    30-05-2013 11:09 AM

    Hi Paul,

    might have been an egg she laid and not the pet bringing in..it might have to do with her plucking... do you give calcium supplements like zocald and spray her regulary ?

    I would suggest to take her to an avian vet to get bloods done to see if there is a deficit somewhere

    just the bloods shouldnt be that expensive and if something is wrong you can claim it back from insurance..

    But i am sure someone else will soon be able to give you more/better advise than me x

    Treat Animals like Humans - with R E S P E C T !!!
    SharonH
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    30-05-2013 11:18 AM
    Debs asks some really good questions, if this is sudden onset plucking, it could be a sign of pain or injury. But firstly, are you absolutely sure she's plucking?You wouldn't be the first to make that assumption and for it to be the moult. Is she getting a good 12 hours or more sleep, showers regularly, and calcium? Many of us use a supplement called "feather up" through the moult and for some of our follically challenged family members

    It sounds as if you are very caring and have tried many of the first things to consider, and like Debs, I am shocked by your insurance companies approach, I have seen birds begin to pluck with the beginnings of pain with deformed joints.

    To put pics on here you copy and paste the line of code with the HTML next to it.
    Debs
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    30-05-2013 12:04 PM
    Sharon if you put the links he has posted into your address bar you can see the pics - it is definitely plucking (in my opinion).

    If I had to guess (and guessing is not the best way to go IMO) I would say that the purchase of the new puppy and/or the fact that it may well have been her that laid the egg has caused her to pluck. If it was her egg would that have been her first? It may just be a surge of hormones that first caused her to pluck and now it has become more of a habit. However I would take her to an avian vet to rule out anything 'medical'. Even if you just get bloods done and they give her a 'look over' .... at least then you can be more confident that it is something you can deal wth rather than something that needs treatment as such.

    A consultation and bloods should not be anywhere near £500 but please please go to an avian vet otherwise a general vet will be making an educated guess.

    It is good she is on pellets and has daily fruit etc...but a vet would also bea ble to advise you on any additional supplements she may need (if the egg was hers than a calcium top up will do no harm).

    If it is something that the vet feels requires treatment then the plucking is a symptom rather than a mutilation and I would argue that with the insurance company. Often the vets deal with the paperwork so they may even be able to advise you on that too ;-)



    Helen W
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    30-05-2013 1:23 PM
    Welcome to the forum. I have had a look at the pictures (I hope that isn't your car!) I agree that it does look like plucking rather than a moult.

    You've had some excellent advice so far, which I agree with. It does sound to me that Ruby may have reached sexual maturity and may be plucking to 'feather' her nest (or just because of hormones). Has she been trying to nest build anywhere and does she have paper, cardboard or rope to shred (all of which make natural nest-building materials)? If not, it might be worth trying to offer her stuff to shred. Although it may be hormones, the advice of taking her to an avian vet for basic bloods is also good. They shouldn't be too costly and can give you a basic screen to rule out anything too serious. Also, it would be worth excluding calcium or vitamin A deficiency as these can contribute to feather problems. If you don'thave a local avian vet, there's a list of Birdline approved vets under 'Parrots' at the top of the page.

    If it is hormonal, she may benefit from regular showers and increased sleeping times, making sure that she is in darkness at night (possibly covering her at night if you don't normally.) It helps to confuse her body clock out of the egg laying season.

    Please let us know how you and Ruby get on. But don't despair, there's a lot of willing help and advice on here and many of us have birds who have plucked at some time.

    Thinking of you both
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    J & S
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    30-05-2013 1:26 PM
    I have to agree with the above posts.
    Please take her to an Avian Vet so bloods etc can be done (they will not cost as much as you posted)
    If her plucking is down to a illness etc then your insurance should pay, I know mine do.

    Good luck
    Julie
    Stevie, Julie and the Hobbits, Frodo, Bilbo, Rosie, Charlee Girl & Arnie
    SharonH
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    30-05-2013 2:15 PM
    I'm sure that the avian vet who sees the birds in Devon and Cornwall quoted about £250 for the avian health screen bloods that he would suggest for pluckers. Although you would probably have to add the cost of the general anaesthetic to take the bloods to that.

    If she's laid an egg, as others have said, this adds to the suggestion that this might be seasonal and that changing sleep times, increasing showers should make her think that the breeding season has finished, but it does add to the requirement for calcium. So either Zolcal D or calcivet are essential and I would add some Feather Up to assist with feather regrowth.
    Paul
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    30-05-2013 7:05 PM
    Thank you all for the posts,
    I have recently taken to locking out the rest of the clan at nights so Ruby gets good sleep times, she has a shower every couple of days and I have noticed she likes to get into the kitchen cupboards given half a chance I heard macaws like to roost in holes rather than trees (just some thing I read) and put it down to that. I was thinking of making her a box she could get into but I don't know if its a good idea? She is nearly 10 would she have come into sexual maturity well before this age?
    I have to get her to a vet but that is the problem some times it takes over 30 mins to cut her nails she gets so stressed if you try to pick her up. I am really worried how a vet will do what they need to without her having heart failure. It really is that bad god knows how I will get her into a carrier? If I go near her with gloves on she just flips, Ruby is fine if the contact is on her terms she will happily step up or sit on my shoulder but try to cup her with hands and your heading for A&E. The breeder who sold me Ruby was honest and informed me she was bred for breeding and not hand reared. She was unable to sell her and the bird she was paired with, well they hated each other. I knew she would be a challenge and took her on a six months return basis. It took me 3 days to get her into the cage after she escaped the carrier and vacated to the cage top. I was about to give up weeks later when I managed to get her in a room with no where to perch it was a Mexican stand off. I just sat on the floor and waited eventually she came and walked up my legs and that was the turning point. I have put blood sweat and tears into taming Ruby and would despair if I ruined it with a pointless trip to the vets. So my plan was to try all possible avenues before that event had to take place. I will order the Zolcal D or calcivet and try that once again thanks for your return posts
    SharonH
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    31-05-2013 3:41 AM
    The location of the plucking does bother me, normally they would go for the neck and chest first from what I have seen. I wonder if it might just be worth treating her for mites. They are not common in companion birds, but in the environment Ruby came from, I do wonder, and it would be the sort of places you'd find them. Just a thought, as they'd get worse as the weather gets warmer.

    Don't stop doing the calcium thing though, that's important if she's laid an egg.
    Debs
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    31-05-2013 4:28 AM
    I know you say she is 10 years old but how long have you actually had her? I did consider mites but assumed that you had had her for a long while which would make mites less unlikely.
    Helen W
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    31-05-2013 1:25 PM
    One other point, a lot of us here have had issues with birds with overgrown claws. We find that a good concrete or pediperch (wide enough to prevent the claws touching each other around the perch can help with nails. It is particularly useful if you make that the overnight/sleeping perch.
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    Paul
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    01-06-2013 3:20 AM
    She does have two concrete perches I have placed them next to food pots. I have had Ruby for 9 plus years.
    I have started this morning with the calcivet in her water she has just had a shower and is now whizzing round knocking hell out of her favourite toys, she had breakfast in bed with me (half a finger biscuit dunked of course) and her morning exercise is to dance to the radio I should put her on Britain's got talent !!
    My point is its really hard to believe there could be anything physically wrong she seems as happy as Larry.
    What is the point of having a pet that can speak when she will not tell me what's wrong !!
    SharonH
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    01-06-2013 4:09 AM
    Ignore my last then, if you have had her for that long.

    The most likely explanation for this plucking is the hormonal issue and probably seasonal changes, but someone on here recommended aloe vera (Doddie I think) and it's made a huge improvement to my own (female) macaws feather condition. I use a good glug of aloe juice in her drinking water and a little in the spray bottle. It's done wonders for her overpreening, the feathers seem less dry, and colours richer. It's just bottled juice from Holland and Barrett.
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