Gout is a common form of arthritis that affects a large number of people around the world.
Symptoms can include pain, swelling, and tenderness, and often occurs at the base of the big toe.
But gout isn’t a disease that is limited to people.
Other animals can also get gout including dogs, cats, and other mammals.
Of course, gout is uncommon in these species and the disease presents itself much differently in animals than it does in people.
But this leads me to ask the question – do parrots get gout?
The answer to this question is yes. Parrots can get gout. In fact, there are two different kinds of gout that a parrot can experience: Visceral Gout and Articular Gout. In parrots, gout is characterized as a musculoskeletal disorder that affects the muscles and bones around the joints. It’s symptoms include swollen toes, painful joints, and lack of urination.
Of course, these are just a few of the many symptoms that can present when a parrot has gout.
But what other symptoms accompany gout in parrots?
What causes gout in parrots?
What’s the difference between Visceral and Articular gout?
What should you do if you suspect that your parrot has gout?
And how is gout diagnosed and treated?
Today we will answer all of these questions and more – so let’s not waste another minute!
Let’s talk about gout in parrots:
What is gout in parrots?
In most cases, parrots that have gout also have a renal disease.
What does this mean?
When a parrot is healthy, urates (salts derived from uric acid) are excreted through urine.
But when the renal system is not functioning properly, this uric acid builds up in the blood.
When this happens, uric acid turns into monosodium urate crystals which creates stones that can accumulate within the joints and tissues.
When uric acid builds up on joints and tissues, this is referred to as “gout”.
The result is pain and difficulty with mobility.
Parrots who have gout can have swollen joints, pain in the toes, and can experience difficulties when it comes to perching.
In severe cases they can have difficulty urinating and/or may develop neurological concerns.
What does gout look like in parrots?
There are a lot of symptoms that go hand in hand with gout.
The most common symptoms, as mentioned above, are swelling and pain in the joints.
With that being said, gout can also present itself in other ways.
A parrot that has gout may have white deposits near their joints, swellings that rupture, and/or loss of muscle mass.
They may also display behaviors of depression, including feather plucking and self-mutilation.
Other signs and symptoms of gout can include, but are not limited to:
Increase or decrease in urination
Loss of appetite
Weakness and lameness
Loss of body control
What are the different types of gout that parrots can experience?
Parrots can actually experience two different types of gout simultaneously.
These include Visceral gout and Articular gout.
Visceral gout occurs when urates deposit on tissue surfaces or within organs like the liver, spleen, or pericardium.
It is commonly caused by renal failure.
Articular gout generally occurs simultaneously in parrots that have Visceral gout.
It would be very rare to see a parrot with Articular gout on it’s own.
This type of gout presents itself as urates that deposit on the joints, toes, and tendon sheaths.
It tends to cause swelling, pain, and inflammation.
This type of gout is commonly caused by too much protein in a parrots diet.
It can also be hereditary.
What causes gout in parrots?
Gout can be caused by a large number of things.
Most commonly it is related to damaged or poor functioning of the kidneys.
When the kidneys do not function as per normal, uric acid starts to build up in the muscles and joints eventually causing gout.
Kidney failure such as this can be caused by several things including:
Too much calcium
Too much Vitamin D3
Too much sodium or salt intake
Too much protein
Dehydration (or not enough water in the diet)
Consumption of water with too much mineral content
Kidney problems that lead to gout can also be caused by things like avian nephritis or other viral infections, as well as poisoning from disinfectants and/or certain antibiotics.
Pesticides, herbicides, and other toxins can also cause kidney damage in parrots.
Many of the causes of kidney damage and gout are related to diet.
This is why it is so important that you feed your parrot a balanced diet with the appropriate amount of vitamins and minerals.
In some cases, gout may also be hereditary.
What should you do if you suspect your parrot has gout?
If you have noticed some of the signs and symptoms as presented above and suspect that your parrot may have gout, you should take them to see the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Gout is not considered an emergency situation but it can cause pain for your parrot.
In return, it’s not necessary to book in with an emergency veterinarian but an appointment should be made with your regular avian vet as quickly as possible.
Gout can be treated using medications but any damage that is done before treatment is received is not reversible.
For this reason, it’s important to catch gout in its early stages.
First signs of gout can include stiff or swollen joints, trouble perching, or inability to fly.
Weight loss is also a sign of gout but can also be a sign of several other illnesses as well.
How is gout diagnosed?
In order for your veterinarian to diagnose gout, they will want to have a look at the complete history of your parrot.
They may ask you questions related to the symptoms your bird is experiencing, the environment they live in, their diet, as well as their overall health.
They may also ask if your parrot has recently been diagnosed with any infections, or whether they have been around any potential poisons or toxins.
The more that you can tell your veterinarian about your parrot and their history, the better able they will be to create a diagnosis.
Once your veterinarian has a complete medical history of your parrot, they will want to do an overall physical examination.
This will help to reveal which areas are causing your parrot pain, as well as which areas of the body may present with abnormalities.
Tests may also be conducted to check for infections, toxins, renal diseases, and uric acid levels.
Tests can include but are not limited to, blood work tests, microbiological assays, culture tests, serum tests, urinalysis tests, and more.
If your veterinarian feels that kidney damage is a possibility, they may also suggest X-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds, or CT scans to have a better look.
If renal disease is suspected, a biopsy will be ordered to confirm.
How is gout treated?
Many cases of gout can be successfully managed through medical treatments.
With that being said, the exact treatment will depend on the underlying cause.
Treatments will be targeted towards the condition that is causing the gout in the first place.
Treatment of underlying conditions may be combined with fluid therapy as well as diet manipulation.
The goal of dieting would be to correct for any imbalances that could be causing problems.
Supplementation may also be prescribed.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary, but this is rare and is only in severe circumstances.
Surgery can be used to remove uric acid deposits within the joints and tissues of the parrot.
Is gout in parrots curable?
The recovery rate of gout in parrots really depends on the underlying factors that are causing the gout in the first place.
In most cases, gout is managed more than it is cured.
In cases of renal disease, there is a poor rate of recovery.
The best way to proceed is to manage the pain using medications and therapies.
Is gout more common in some types of parrots than others?
Yes. Gout can affect any kind of parrot but is most commonly seen in budgies and cockatiels.
In conclusion, yes, parrots can get gout.
Some cases of gout may be treated but when treatment is not possible the best method of proceeding is to manage the pain.
The sooner you catch gout in your parrot, the better the prognosis.
For this reason it is important to know what the symptoms are and keep an eye out for them.
If you notice any symptoms, take your parrot to the veterinarian as soon as possible.