PDD Digestive Problem

Health Articles / PDD Digestive Problems

PDD is one of the most distressing bird diseases. These days a combination of appropriate nutrition and anti-inflammatory drugs has an excellent success rate at maintaining a good quality of life and even keeping many birds alive indefinitely. The two stories below (Georgie from the UK and Rafiki from the USA) describe two birds who are now thriving on Special Needs Diet.

Special Needs Diet was designed specifically to help birds with PDD and other chronic digestive problems.


Georgie - Living with PDD

Georgie is still doing exceptionally well and goes from strength to strength. He now has 80% SND (Special Needs Diet) and 20% finely ground Feast usually three or 4 times daily (approx 6 or 8 hours apart) mixed with warm water administered by crop tube. His crop movement has always been quite slow since PDD was diagnosed hence the gap between feeds. After the initial 6 months of continuing administration of NSAID Celebrex he has been pulsing on and off this drug. His condition has continued to improve. His physical and emotional state is remarkable under the circumstances and he is certainly in the best condition of all my Moluccans. I have even mastered the art of crop feeding him on my own!

Georgie's weight was around 820 grams when he was first diagnosed with PDD in February and he now weighs around 1075 grams. Consequently I have reduced the size of his SND and Feast by about 15% to ensure a maintenance diet instead of a weight gain diet as he was underweight when diagnosed - (his original weight before PDD was diagnosed was around 920 grams). I believe Georgie now to be at his optimum weight and condition for his breed and size. Although Georgie will eat a little fruit and vegetables, still he will not eat seed, pellets and refuses all soft food on a spoon which he used to take willingly before his illness.

When PDD was first diagnosed typically Georgie was a little quiet, reserved and had less energy without much interest in his surroundings or toys. Looking back he did not often display and scream (a quiet Moluccan, what next?). He is now extremely happy, VERY noisy and terribly naughty. He continually gets up to all sorts of mischief typical of a happy healthy Moluccan cockatoo. He regularly performs the typical Moluccan display with screaming as only a Moluccan can. He is always throwing toys, seed, fruit and vegetables, water as well as anything else and thinks all these activities are great fun. He has tried to mate with my female several times (which of course I discourage) but has not perfected the art as yet as far as I am aware. He is extremely cuddly and tame with everyone including the Vet in all of this, despite extensive veterinary care, together with so many surgical procedures and of course crop feeding which he just accepts as normal.

Georgie had a second crop biopsy under anaesthesia last October which was found to be inconclusive. More recently he has also had extensive treatment for a beak injury in his nostril area inflicted by one of my other Moluccans which included two more anaesthetics involving removal of part of his damaged beak, as well as removal of bruised and damaged bone & flesh in his nostril area. His recovery was remarkable as his flesh regenerated itself extremely quickly with appropriate treatment and his beak has now regenerated itself. Additionally in the last 6 months or so he has had three occasions of blood loss (one extremely severe) due to beak and claw damage. Georgie pulled through all of this and recovered very quickly which I believe demonstrates how well his immune defence system is performing under such circumstances.

As I have explained to you before, both vets involved in his care are amazed at his progress and feel this is all revolutionary in caring for a PDD parrot. Strathmore Vets in Andover now have a new avian vet, Mr Simon Girling who is very experienced in avian care, especially PDD cases. My vet has said that on visual inspection he would give Georgie a clean bill of health if he was unaware of his condition.

Although I am resigned to the fact that I may lose Georgie at any time due to his fatal illness, I take life with Georgie one day at a time treating every extra day I spend with him as a bonus. I realise how privileged I am to have had Georgie in my life for 10 years and especially these last 17 months. As soon as Georgie's quality of life becomes poor, I will of course take the appropriate action. However since his crop feeding he is living a very happy, healthy, high quality life and this will be my prime focus in his care. Georgie has now started his 11th 1.5kg tub of Special Needs Diet. I do use other products in the Birdcare range as well as SND on my parrots. Interestingly, none of my other parrots have showed any signs whatsoever of this supposedly highly contagious disease as yet despite having been in contact with Georgie on a continuing basis since the onset of PDD.

I cannot thank Birdcare enough for their Special Needs Diet product. I am certain that I owe these last 17 months with Georgie to Birdcare.

Even if I lose Georgie now, I will always be eternally grateful to Birdcare for this special time I have had with him. I do believe that, had this SND product not been available, Georgie would certainly not be alive today, in such beautiful condition and incredible health whilst continuing to go from strength to strength.

Thank you, Birdcare, for these last 17 months with Georgie. Words in these circumstances seem so futile but I know he is alive due to the existence of Birdcare's Special Need Diet.

Incidentally, Georgie went to Strathmore Vet and saw John Chitty this gone Tuesday for a routine check-up. John said he was in exceptional condition, his beak injury had healed perfectly and needed no more treatment. He also told me to continue doing whatever it was I had been doing to keep Georgie so healthy.

I will of course keep you informed should there be any more news.

Yours sincerely,

Janet M Worsley


For those who want to read on, here is:

Background information on Georgie and his diagnosis of PDD

Georgie's PDD was first noticed by me due to seeds in his droppings of which I was always aware and on the lookout for, through experience of other friends who are parrot keepers/breeders in England.

Georgie was diagnosed with PDD by x-rays and crop biopsies, which in England is the most effective way of diagnosis on a live bird. On diagnosis my vet suggested euthanasia, although he felt that Georgie's general condition was good considering the seriousness of his illness. My vet had not actually treated a PDD parrot before, all previous PDD patients had been euthanised due to their extremely poor condition.

Georgie has also been through some tough times completely unrelated to PDD in the last 15 months, i.e. several claw breaks with blood losses, one blood loss extremely severe, as well as a serious beak injury caused by a bite from one of my other Moluccans. He has been through 4 anaesthetics since the onset of PDD, 2 were crop biopsies and two were as a result of his beak injury. His immune system is obviously working extremely well as I feel he would never have recovered from heavy blood loss, anaesthetics and such severe injury involving regrowth of flesh if he was badly affected by PDD or any other serious disease.

I live each day according to Georgie's crop content. If he does get sick then I time the next feed according to the emptying of his crop. Georgie has never shown the neurological signs of PDD, just signs associated with paralysis of the digestive system and very slow crop movement.

Georgie really has gone from strength to strength in all of this, although I know and appreciate I could lose him at any time. I count each extra day with him as so very special and a God-given bonus, and love him more than anyone could ever know or understand. I do know that should his quality of life reduce then I would take the necessary action straight away because of how much I love him. Of course crop feeding Georgie 3 or 4 times a day is an enormous tie for me. No-one else I know could do it (apart from veterinary staff) and I would not in any case trust anyone in case something went wrong.

I also have 3 other Moluccans who live in the same room as Georgie. To date they have shown no clinical signs of PDD. I made the decision when Gerogie was first diagnosed with PDD that I would keep him with my other birds. To end this inter-action would have been such a cruel way forward for Georgie as this is all important to him I felt I did not have the right to confiscate this joy. I also believed that if my other birds were going to develop PDD they had already been heavily exposed to Georgie for some time before his diagnosis, so I made what I felt was the correct heartfelt decision at the time to keep him with my other birds. I knew I was taking a big risk but I truly believed his life would not have been worth living had he been isolated after spending his entire life with my other Moluccans.

We can only do what we feel is right and what is in our heart, what more can one ask of us? My decision to keep him with the other birds all that time ago so far has proved to be the right one. I have heard many times that PDD is nothing like as contagious as first believed and there are many cases of isolated birds contracting PDD without any other birds in the collection developing symptoms.
Georgie has even tried several times to mate with my female unsuccessfully with the onset of PDD. I have of course never intended to breed, my birds are pets only and I have been involved in many rescues of parrots in the past.

I hope this has given you an insight into Georgie's life with PDD and how I have coped with it so far. I live an extremely devoted life especially to Georgie and of course to my other birds and at present am able to continue doing this for all our sakes.

Georgie is now on his 11th tub of Special Needs Diet 1.5KG size. I do use other products in the Birdcare range on Georgie in addition to SND.

Education in parrot care is so important to us parrot owners and we need to hold hands and make a stand for the sake of all of these parrots that need so much from us. - Jan Worsley

More information about Special Needs Diet

One of the most distressing illnesses in captive birds is proventricular dilatation disease. In this illness the nerves to the gut are attacked by a virus and the muscular walls of the proventriculus waste away. The resulting poor digestive performance leads to a slow starvation of the bird.

Because it is a viral disease there are no treatments for PDD. However some patients do successfully fight the virus but the gut damage cannot be repaired. Vets are having considerable success in reducing the impact of this disease with anti-inflammatory drugs. In combination with appropriate dietary supplementation this is doing a great deal to improve the quality of life of many patients.

The Birdcare Company has developed an exciting new food which requires very little digestive function and also contains ingredients that help the bird's natural immune system to fight the virus.

Special Needs Diet is a highly palatable complete food which, when mixed with water, resembles a nectar food. However the ingredients used provide much longer lasting energy than conventional diets as well as a full balance of protein, vitamins and minerals. A number of specially selected herbal extracts act as a prebiotic (help create a good environment in the gut for the beneficial bacteria to thrive), make the gut environment less attractive for many disease causing organisms and enhance the performance of the bird's natural immune system. The immune response is the PDD sufferers only real hope of survival.