Cockatiel has unfortunate (and mysterious) adventure

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Sep 26, 2015 in Rat News | Subscribe

Our receptionist began checking in the distressed pet owner and getting a brief history.

“I can’t find the leg anywhere!”

“Excuse me?”

“I’ve looked all over, it’s nowhere to be found.”

So started the story of Gus, a 1-year old cockatiel who presented to our emergency hospital one Saturday afternoon. He was missing his right leg.

Although Gus had lost a fair amount of blood, he was holding his own, standing on his remaining leg. He was fluffed up and pretty quiet, but not having respiratory difficulties. Fluffed feathers can be a sign of distress in birds, so we would monitor Gus carefully. We put him in a small, heated oxygen cage while we spoke further with the owner.

“So how did he lose his leg?”

“I don’t know. I came home and found several small puddles of blood, and poor Gus standing there with one leg. I looked all over but could not find the other leg anywhere.”

A careful physical exam confirmed that Gus was, in fact, missing his right leg. Not even a stub of femur was visible, just a small hole where his leg once was, oozing blood. Gus was very stoic, shrugging off his injury like it was a blood feather.

Veterinarians are often reluctant to treat sick birds because without warning, they can keel over, deceased, creating significant distress for owner and veterinarian alike.

While the emergency team started treatment with oxygen, warmed subcutaneous fluids (under Gus’ skin), pain meds and antibiotics, we revisited the history with the owner. Often the history holds the clue to the diagnosis, or in this case, the events leading to the diagnosis.

Gus lived with several other cockatiels and spent a lot of time out of his cage. Gus’ owner’s theory was this: Gus had flown downstairs into the basement of his home, where the owner kept several pet rats housed in open-wire cages. Gus had probably landed on one of the cages, inadvertently stuck his leg through the wire, and, voila, it disappeared.

We all raised our eyebrows a little skeptically, perhaps slightly disturbed at the dark, scene just described. (Some of swore we heard the theme music from “Jaws”). Although none of us would necessarily want to visit the basement where Gus lived, we try to remain nonjudgmental.

So we went with that history, even suggesting the suspect rat come in for some abdominal x-rays to look for bone fragments. Due to the cost of treating Gus, his owner declined the x-rays for the rat and surrendered Gus to the hospital.

Gus had surgery the next day to clean out his wound and close the skin over the defect at his coxo-femoral (hip) joint. He recovered nicely and then started singing away his days as the hospital greeter and vocalist.

Several days after the surgery, Gus’ original owner came back to see how the tough old bird was doing. “Oh, by the way, I have a large circulating fan running in the room where Gus lived. I wonder if that had anything to do with what happened.”

What do you believe?

Jon Geller is a veterinarian at the Fort Collins Veterinary Emergency and Rehabilitation Clinic.

Article source: http://www.coloradoan.com/story/life/2015/09/25/cockatiel-loses-leg/72690302/

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