By Margaret A. Wissman, DVM, DABVP – Avian Practice
A cockatiel is diagnosed as being overweight and, when she last molted, some of the primary wing feathers and body contour feathers took on a more yellowish hue. When she recently broke a blood feather on her wing and her avian veterinarian pulled it out, she continued bleeding for quite a while from the empty follicle, causing alarm to both the owner and her avian vet. The veterinarian suspected a liver problem, and tests confirmed that the cockatiel was suffering from hepatic lipidosis, also called fatty liver disease or fatty liver syndrome. The diagnosis sounds scary, and it can be, because the liver is responsible for many important functions in a bird. So what should you do if your bird has been diagnosed with this condition?
When a bird develops hepatic lipidosis, this means that the normal liver cells are gradually being filled with fat (actually large vacuoles of triglyceride fat). These abnormal cells can no longer function to perform the liver’s work efficiently and, over time, the liver cells may be destroyed. As liver cells die, they are replaced with scar tissue or fibrous connective tissue. The liver’s function gradually decreases and the bird begins showing signs of liver disease.
**For the full article, pick up the January 2008 issue of BIRD TALK magazine**
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