Birdsafe California Bird Nerds
James Harris, DVM

Undigested seed isn't normal

My male white-face cockatiel will pass one, two or three partially digested seeds in his poop. This does not occur every time. This morning, for instance, only one in nine poops had seed, at the end of the fecal matter.

He was treated for a yeast problem in February 2001. The vet did blood work, everything was A-OK, just a hair low on protein. Then about mid-May the undigested seeds started appearing. My vet doesn't think it's PDD (proventricular dilatation disease).

When the 'tiel stops singing, eating and playing, I put him on nystatin and his eating improves. I get to day 10 with it, and he poops out a few seeds.

Someone mentioned vitamin B deficiency possibly causing poor digestion. I got a liquid multi-B supplement from my vet and have given the 'tiel a tiny drop on Friday and again yesterday. He's fully flighted but prefers to walk and follows me everywhere - he's on me like glue. I'm wondering if he's suffering from a possible separation anxiety; he barely got any attention in his last home as the guy traveled and the lady worked full time, as do I. Someone also said it may be due to stress.

I have been giving him fresh veggies and have put him back on oyster shell grit to see if this will help. I have four other cockatiels, two parakeets and a Quaker, none of which are exhibiting any of these symptoms.

Have you ever seen this before? I am just at my wit’s end.

--Sharon Rodriguez, Mobile, Ala.

As you've already guessed, passing intact seed is not normal.

It may happen on rare occasion if some event speeds up the time it takes for food to pass through the digestive tract. Stress can indeed trigger an episode. Diet can also play a part, especially grapes and citrus.

However, since it sounds as if your bird passes undigested seed fairly frequently, and it's been over a year since his last medical workup, I would strongly advise getting him back to the vet for another one.

PDD, a condition that results in the loss of nerve control in the walls of the digestive tract, is difficult to diagnose and treat. But since seed passing and loss of appetite are two of its symptoms, your vet may want to investigate this possibility further.

Dr. James Harris James Harris, DVM is owner and medical director of the Mayfair Veterinary Clinic in Sandy Bay, Tasmania, Australia. He founded Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Oakland, Calif., and has served as medical director and chairman of the board for the International Bird Rescue Research Center in Berkeley. Dr. Harris' numerous professional honors include California and National Bustad Companion Animal DVM Awards. Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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