Polyuria in Birds
Dr. Barbara Oglesbee
A thorough history is extremely important in the diagnosis of diarrhea. Be prepared to tell your veterinarian: When did the problem begin?
Is the polyuria intermittent? Are all of the droppings abnormal?
Is there an increase (or decrease) in the number and frequency of droppings?
Has the diet changed? Are fresh foods, such as fruits and vegetables fed regularly?
Is the bird still eating a normal amount of food?
What are the birds chewing habits? Does it have access to metal objects or plants? Does the bird chew apart wood, rubber or string toys?
Are any other symptoms, such as lethargy or vomiting present?
Has the bird been exposed to other birds?
How often is the cage and the food and water dishes cleaned? How are they cleaned?
Your veterinarian will recommend specific diagnostic tests depending on how severely your bird is affected, whether other symptoms are present, or how long the problem has been going on. Birds that have other symptoms or have had chronic polyuria (lasting for days to weeks) or recurrent polyuria may require extensive diagnostic testing. Any combination of the following may be recommended:
A thorough physical examination
A complete blood count (CBC). The number of circulating white blood cells may be helpful in distinguishing between infectious and non-infectious causes of polyuria.
Serum biochemistry panel to look for evidence of diabetes mellitus or metabolic problems, such as diseases of the liver, kidney or pancreas.
Urinalysis to look for evidence of kidney disease. This test is not as specific as it would be if performed on a mammal. Contamination of the urine by fecal material in the cloaca makes interpretation less precise.
Sampling the feces or cloaca for bacterial culture and cytology (looking at cell types for evidence of infection or inflammation)
Blood tests that measure the amount of heavy metals, such as lead or zinc in circulation
Plasma protein electrophoresis. This blood test looks at the types of proteins present in the circulation. For example, birds with chronic diseases, especially infectious or inflammatory diseases, produce antibodies, and an increase in one class of proteins (gammaglobulins) occurs. Birds with liver disease or severe intestinal disease usually have low concentrations of another class of protein (albumin).
Blood tests or other samples for Chlamydiosis (Psittacosis) or Polyomavirus
Radiography (X-Rays) to look evidence of intestinal disease, size and density of the liver, kidneys or other organs
Contrast radiographs, such a barium studies, to look for tumors, ulcerations or thickening of the lining of the intestinal tract. This test will also determine how quickly ingested material is moved through the intestinal tract.
Fluoroscopy. This is a video or moving X ray performed by a specialist that is used to determine if the coordination of peristaltic waves is normal. It is useful in the diagnosis of toxicity (lead or zinc) or viral diseases (proventricular dilatation disease).
Abdominal ultrasound. This test is only possible in birds with enlargement of the liver or fluid in the abdomen. It allows visualization of the intestinal tract, liver, uterus and other abdominal organs. A specialist usually performs this test.
Endoscopy. This is viewing the body cavity directly (kidneys, liver, pancreas) with a rigid endoscope to collect samples for biopsy or culture. An endoscopic biopsy is often the only way to definitively diagnose the cause of kidney or liver disease. A specialist usually performs this test.
Your veterinarian may recommend one or more of the diagnostic tests described above. In the meantime, treatment of the symptoms might be needed, especially of the problem is severe. The following treatments may be applicable to some, but not all birds with polyuria. Theses treatments may reduce the severity of symptoms, or provide relief for your bird. However, nonspecific therapy is not a substitute for definite treatment of the underlying disease responsible for your bird's condition.
Birds with moderate to severe polyuria and other symptoms such as lethargy and anorexia usually require hospitalization and 24-hour care.
Fluid therapy. Many birds with polyuria become dehydrated and require fluids. Fluids may be given by an intravenous catheter, an interosseous catheter (into the bone marrow) or subcutaneously (under the skin). The route of administration will depend on how severe the level of dehydration is.
Dietary change. If the polyuria is a temporary normal response to an increased amount of liquid in the diet, fruits and vegetables may temporarily be withheld.
Forced feeding. Birds that refuse food may require forced-feeding of an easily digestible liquid food. Your veterinarian may pass a tube into the bird's crop to deliver this food.
Antibiotics or antifungal medications may be needed to treat or prevent an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast.