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What is Polyuria?

However minor, any change to the appearance or frequency of your pet’s urine and fecal output may indicate a new or worsening health problem. Staying vigilant to such changes may make the difference between catching a minor issue before it becomes a more significant health problem. In the case of birds, their droppings are uniquely composed of three different components: a central “spot” of solid brownish or greenish feces from the intestinal tract, white semi-solid urates (a salt derived from uric acid) made up of urates from the kidneys, and finally, liquid urine from the kidneys.

In birds, the condition called polyuria refers to an increase in just the liquid component (urine) of the droppings. While sometimes confused with diarrhea, particularly by amateur bird fanciers and owners, the large volume of urine will alter the appearance of the feces by increasing the range of liquid around the solid matter. The droppings of a polyuric bird will still have a solid fecal component, while birds with diarrhea have a watery appearance to the fecal component. Overall, a fluctuation of any or all three components of bird droppings may indicate mild illness, toxicity, dietary issues, or else the developing or advancement of a serious health problem such as kidney disease or diabetes mellitus.

Such changes to a bird’s urine or feces may warrant a visit to an aviary veterinarian, who will likely recommend a range of diagnostic testing based upon the appearance of the droppings, as well as any other observable symptoms of potential illness in the bird. Some symptoms of concern will include lethargy, a ruffled appearance, weight loss and anorexia. If the bird presents with only mild changes to the liquid and solid components of the droppings, and shows no other physical or behavioral changes, serious illness is not likely. If, however, polyuria is persistent, or the condition recedes and then returns, or if new symptoms arise, immediate veterinary care is recommended.

In birds, the condition called polyuria refers to an increase in the liquid component (urine) of their droppings.

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Symptoms of Polyuria in Birds

  • Increase in liquid component of bird droppings
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Tucking head beneath the wing
  • Exhaustion
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in the stool
  • Lack of feces in droppings
  • Ruffled feathers
  • Anxious behavior
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anorexia

Causes of Polyuria in Birds

The cause of polyuria can take many forms. While a serious illness may be the underlying cause of the condition, the bird may instead be responding to factors such as a change in the diet, environmental stress, or the presence of toxins. Veterinarians often find that birds suffering from polyuria have more than one concurrent condition. Potential causes include:

  • Infectious diseases
  • Bacterial diseases
  • Chlamydophila
  • Parasitic infections
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Anorexia, with increased drinking
  • Liver disease
  • Poisons and toxins (heavy metals, nicotine, tobacco, inhalants, plant poisons)   
  • Diabetes
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Reproductive disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Dietary changes – watery fruits and vegetables

Diagnosis of Polyuria in Birds

First, the veterinarian will conduct a physical examination of the bird. Be sure to explain when you first noticed changes to the droppings, and what kind of changes you noticed in the components. If the bird has been consistently suffering from polyuria, the vet may recommend a series of tests to search for the cause. He will be interested if the bird has recently been exposed to any other birds or new environments. 

Culturing the feces and/or cloaca to search for signs of infection is fundamental to the diagnosis.  A urinalysis may be administered, as well as a CBC (complete blood count) and serum biochemistry panel. Blood testing will search for any signs of toxicity. In more advanced cases, some owners may elect for x-rays and scopes, including endoscopy, to explore the intestines, liver, kidneys and pancreas. Tissue samples may be taken during the scope.

Treatment of Polyuria in Birds

Treatment will depend upon the outcome of the exam and testing, which may potentially include anatomical problems, disease, and secondary infections. In some cases, antibiotics or antifungal medications may be administered to treat the presence of infection. Medications may be given to treat damaged or low-functioning organs such as the kidneys. Modifications to the diet and environment may be necessary. 

In severe cases of polyuria, the bird may require inpatient treatment in order to stabilize.  IV or SubQ fluids and medications will be given in most cases, as well as nutritional therapy.

Recovery of Polyuria in Birds

Birds may become polyuric if placed on a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, or if changed to a new pellet. Birds that are stressed, such as moving to a new environment or encountering new people or animals, may temporarily become polyuric. The condition should not last beyond a day or two. Always avail the bird of plenty of fresh drinking water and a clean environment. Do not use litter of any kind to line the cage. Use only paper, and be sure to change the paper daily in order to discern any changes in the droppings. If improvement is not seen in the time allotted for recovery, report this to your veterinarian.