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BIRD TALK: Battle of the Bulge

Don’t let fatty liver disease put the squeeze on your bird

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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BIRD TALK: Battle of the Bulge

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Reader Comments
Shame on you. I have subscrbed to your mag. for years, my parottlet may have fatty liver disease,and my back copies are in the bird room with my sleeping birds. I wanted to look up somethings I forgot to ask my vet. Way to run a web site.
June, Tampa, FL
Posted: 8/24/2009 6:03:31 PM
Not enough info...but it's a great start. Thanks
Jo, Pleasant Plain, OH
Posted: 4/22/2009 11:55:22 AM
Not enough information! What causes fatty liver disease? What can cure it? Is it cureable????
colleen, whiting, NJ
Posted: 9/13/2008 7:29:49 PM
I think this article was really important for any bird parent to read. Just like us humans our birds need a good healthy diet and lots of execise. My birds are out of the cage all day that I am home and they get to climb around their playpen and fly up to their swing on the window and then get back to their cages when they get hungry. I also make my flock home cooked meals with veggies and fruits. I weigh my birds often to make sure that I don't miss any problems that may be starting. A fat bird can't enjoy life when he's too heavy to breathe properly and like the author stated liver disease starts forming and you could lose your baby in an instant. Getting your bird accustomed to a healthy diet and lots of workouts on a daily basis is good for him and you!
Rose, Marstons Mills, MA
Posted: 6/5/2008 5:48:46 PM
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