Renal disease is a common cause of gout in various species of birds. In a healthy bird, urates are excreted with mucus through the urine. Dysfunction in the renal system can decrease this process, resulting in excessive amounts of uric acid left in the blood. Without proper elimination, uric acid forms into monosodium urate crystals, which can then create stones within the various parts of the urinary system, or accumulate in tissues and joints.
Gout, or urate deposition, is a condition wherein uric acid deposits on joints or tissue surface in birds. Urate deposits are semisolid to solid white masses that can swell the areas where they accumulate, resulting in pain and mobility issues. Depending on where the accumulation occurs, it can cause rigid toes, swollen joints, and difficulties perching, or elimination and neurological problems.
Urate deposits can affect the mobility of birds, as well as kidney function, which can cause many of the symptoms seen. Symptoms can resemble those of renal disease, which may very well be present in your bird. Signs to watch for include:
There are two recognized types of gout in birds, which commonly occur concurrently in the same bird.
Visceral gout is characterized by urate deposition on tissue surfaces, where it appears as a white coating. Urates also deposit within organs, such as the pericardium, spleen, and liver. This type of gout is the most common in poultry, where it is often a secondary condition that results from urolithiasis. Visceral gout is also commonly caused by renal failure.
Articular gout, or synovial gout, is rare to find alone, and is more often seen in birds who also have visceral gout. This type causes urates to be deposited as solid, chalky substances in toes, joints, synovial membranes and tendon sheaths of joints. These deposits cause inflammatory swelling and pain. Articular gout is often caused by excessive protein in the diet, or hereditary defects affecting uric acid metabolism.
Urate deposition in joints, tissues and organs results from elevated levels of uric acid in the blood, or hyperuricemia. This, in turn, is caused by a dysfunction in the normal process of uric acid metabolism, and can be traced to problems within the diet, kidneys, or urinary tract. There are many factors that can cause these elevated levels, which include:
A diagnosis begins with symptoms and a history of your bird’s environment, health, diet, possible exposure to toxins and infections, genetic background, and behavior. Be sure to notify your veterinarian if your bird has recently had dietary changes or supplementation. A physical exam can reveal painful areas and abnormalities.
Various tests will be run, which can not only reveal elevated uric acid levels, but also the presence of any toxins, infections, or renal diseases. Tests include bloodwork and serum testing, microbiologic assays, cultures and various stains, microscopic examination, urinalysis, fecal flotation, and aspiration using a fine needle to find the presence of uric acid crystals.
Renal scintigraphy, X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and ultrasounds can be used to assess kidney and organ function, and will be able to help determine if a renal disease is affecting your bird. A biopsy of the kidney is the only definitive way to confirm the type and severity of renal disease, and can be performed in several ways, including by endoscopy.
Many conditions of gout and renal disease can be managed through medical and supportive treatments, aimed at treating the cause of the disruption in uric acid metabolism. Surgery can be difficult, and may only be needed in severe cases.
Aggressive fluid therapy is administered if the gout is accumulating rapidly, along with electrolyte and diuretic medications, such as mannitol or furosemide, to encourage elimination through urine. Your bird’s diet will most likely be modified to fix any imbalances, such as protein and calcium levels, and may seek to add whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Supplementation of parenteral vitamin A or omega-3 fatty acids are often prescribed, especially in cases of renal disease.
Allopurinol may be given to aid in decreasing the production of uric acid in your bird, while colchicine is prescribed to reduce hyperuricemia. They are often used together until signs of hyperuricemia and gout are resolved.
Surgery can be performed to remove uric acid deposits within joints and tissues, with the use of anesthesia. Renal disease may also benefit from surgery to remove stones, or damaged kidneys, but can be more difficult.
Recovery of gout is variable, and depends on the severity of your bird’s condition and any concurrent conditions that may have caused the gout. Renal diseases can be fatal, and many carry a poor rate of recovery. Some conditions can be resolved or managed. Your veterinarian will discuss your bird’s chances of recovery based on his particular case.
At home, you will need to make dietary changes as needed, and administer any medications or supplements recommended by your veterinarian. If surgery was performed, you will likely need to change bandages and provide supportive care. Your veterinarian may perform more testing during treatment to monitor your bird’s progress.
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Hello, I have a serious problem with a female canary (born in 2014) who has problems on both paws and one leg, she has this problem since she was born a little thicker and scaly,her right leg was also particularly thicker but with time it became more severe, a certain time she was not standing on the legs but stay most of the time squatting on the perch. I then realized she had a problem with articular gout and I gave her more white seeds in her seed mix. I have massaged her paws (especially the right one) with various antibiotic creams..but it seemed to become worse, her right leg became red and hot and her paw too and her paw started to become like a 'bumblefoot' and she was lifting one of her paws (right) regularly. this one has started to get more and more swollen under her paw pad and also at the top (above the paw) now a few days ago she began to bend her paw like a fist and since then her right paw still remains like that all the time! I was 2 days ago at a vet, he told me that there is not much to do.. and he gave me a small bottle containing antibiotic and cortisone that I have to mass 2 times a day on her 2 paws and one leg. she does well,she eats well, she drinks a lot .. and she flies well. what do you advise me for this problem? I thought to give her a drop of highly standardized curcumin oil 42 mg per capsule that I cut into a small glass and give a single drop in her beak.. what do you think?can it make a problem? i will really appreciate your advice and perhaps a good solution? i can send you a video or photo from her paw if you give your email address.thanking you in advance for your help. i really don't want to lose her.. Kind regards.
May 31, 2018
Articular gout (or gout in general) is an uncommon condition in canaries and is more often seen in larger birds; if gout has been diagnosed by your Veterinarian, dietary management is important with a diet low in protein, calcium and high in vitamin A. Pain management is important, however is advanced cases this may not be successful. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
June 1, 2018
Dear DRs i have african grey parrot timneh have many symptoms. 1. swelling and closed eyes 2.watery Diarrhea and few vomating 3.sleep almost time 4.Anorexia . 5.increase level of uric acid in blood 6.2 please help me Am from amman_Jordan
Sept. 9, 2018
M. Q M.
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My 28 year old turtle dove's uric acid blood level is 4,666 whereas the normal level is from 118-665. He is listless, not eating and his stools are green and semisolid with force-feeding. He is on Tramadol to control the pain and I have a prescription for allopurinol that I will get filled today. The vet suggested I add cider vinegar to his water, which I have. I am curious also about baking soda and other holistic type remedies that can be administered at home to get the uric acid levels down. I know my bird is very old. What are your thoughts on treatments or comfort increasing measures considering these facts? Thank you.
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