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Allopurinol and gout treatment in cockatiel

Expert Question

I have a 26 year old cockatiel and about 4 weeks ago I noticed white lumps on his legs under the skin and his toe joints and feet are also swollen, the vet thinks it is gout and has given me allopurinol 0.15ml to be given twice a day as well as a pain killer. He now sleeps a lot but is still eating. He cannot fly and it is difficult for him to walk. I have read that allopurinol is not good for birds and that black cherry juice can be given as an alternative, but I don`t know how much cherry juice to give. I would be glad of your advice. Thank you, Elizabeth.

Expert Answer

Hello Elizabeth, these types of questions are best directed towards your attending veterinarian. From your description, it sounds like your bird is in trouble, and needs more help. It is true that in some species, specifically red tailed hawks, allopurinol was shown to actually cause kidney problems.

For the most part, articular gout is often the result of underlying kidney functional disease issues, and you may want to ask your veterinarian about assessing kidney function to see if there are other diagnostic maneuvers or treatments that may have merit to consider. Articular gout, if present, is quite painful, and you may want to also speak with your veterinarian about using multimodal pain management strategies here.

There is much less clear science about the merits or harm that a treatment plan centered on the use of cherry juice has to offer, and for the most part, my best recommendations would be to continue working with your attending veterinarian to work towards the best evidence-based medical approach for diagnosis and management of your bird's problem.

Brian Speer, DVM
About Brian Speer, DVM

Avian veterinarian Dr. Brian Speer was raised in a small town on California’s coast. He received his BS in Biology from California Polytechnic State University in 1978, and his DVM degree from the University of California at Davis in 1983.

An active member of the Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV), Dr. Speer is a much sought after guest speaker and has presented at numerous conferences in the avicultural and zoological communities both within the United States and abroad. He is well published in the AAV annual proceedings, has served as guest editor for the journal Seminars in Avian and Exotic Pet Medicine, the Veterinary Clinics of North America, and authored chapters in several recent veterinary medical texts on pet bird, avicultural and ratite medical topics. In 1995 he co-authored the extensive avicultural reference, The Large Macaws, and helped to co-author Birds for Dummies in 1999.

Since 1989, Dr, Speer has run a “bird’s only” practice in the San Francisco Bay area and is the President and Director of The Medical Center for Birds. He is a consultant for The Veterinary Information Network (Avian Medical Boards) and the Maui Animal Rescue and Sanctuary. In 2003 he was the recipient of the Lafeber award for excellence in private practice of avian medicine and surgery and in 2006, was named Speaker of the Year for the North American Veterinary Conference.