week we are going to discuss a problem concerning
Petunia, the 12-year-old companion of Mark from Modesto,
Calif. Petunia has lived with Mark since she was a
little baby and has been in good health for her entire
she has begun to drink a lot of water and seems to have
developed diarrhea. Mark frequently has to clean the
feathered area around her vent as fecal material is
commonly stuck there.
is a cockatiel. This problem has been apparent to Mark
for the last month or so and appears to be getting
first thing I would like to determine is indeed if the
material clinging to Petunia’s vent area is indeed
feces. People will commonly mistake the white material
that birds produce from their vent as feces. This
material is actually called uric acid and it comes from
the urinary tract.
mammals, birds produce uric acid as part of their
urinary waste. It is a solid white material that does
not dissolve in water. It is surrounded by water in
order to allow the material to pass out of the body. I’m
sure we’ve all seen this white material deposited so
nicely on our automobiles, usually right after they’ve
fecal material that often accompanies the uric acid is,
in the case of cockatiels, a light brown to various
shades of green in color.
Petunia is drinking excessively, I suspect she is
producing excess water from her urinary tract that can
be quite messy and appear like diarrhea.
in birds is indicated by stool that is not formed and is
excessive. From Mark’s description, I am not able to
determine whether Petunia has diarrhea or excessive
urination. I am betting on urination.
needs a trip to her avian veterinarian for an
examination and work-up. Mark is lucky because Petunia
has shown her symptoms, giving him the opportunity to
address her problem before it is too late.
often hide their problems from their caretakers until
whatever disease may be occurring progresses to a point
of extreme severity. This is because of their wild
heritage. If a bird shows any weakness in the wild, the
first predator that comes along will wipe them out,
hence their tremendous drive to mask their symptoms.
Unfortunately, in captivity they still maintain this
behavior, which can make it difficult for caretakers to
will determine whether Petunia indeed has diarrhea or
excess urination and, from this determination, lab work
can be performed. In the case of excess urination and
excess thirst, I would consider the possibility of a
also can develop diabetes, which leads to excess thirst
and excess urination. A simple blood panel and
urinalysis usually will be enough to determine the
presence of either of these diseases. Of course there
are other possible causes.
Petunia’s condition is truly diarrhea, our diagnostic
steps will focus on the digestive tract and also should
include blood work as well as a check for internal
parasites and bacteria in the digestive tract.
should also be reviewed, as it is extremely important to
the health of these wonderful creatures. Hopefully,
Petunia will get some veterinary help allowing a
diagnosis and resolution of her problem.