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Avian Practice
Diseases of the digestive tract of psittacine birds
  1. Simon Girling

    Simon Girling graduated from Glasgow in 1994. After a period in general practice, he worked for eight years at a referral practice for exotic animals in Edinburgh. He has recently moved to Strathmore Veterinary Clinic in Hampshire where he sees first opinion and referral exotic cases. He is currently a council member and honorary treasurer of the British Veterinary Zoological Society, as well as a trustee and honorary treasurer of the Zebra Foundation, a charitable organisation funding veterinary education in zoological medicine. He holds an RCVS certificate and diploma in zoological medicine and is an RCVS Specialist in Zoo Animal and Wildlife Medicine.


MEMBERS of the order Psittaciformes are prone to many infectious and husbandry-related conditions and, like many birds, they frequently mask any signs of illness until very late in the course of disease as a survival strategy to prevent predator attack of a weak or sickly individual. However, some of the more obvious signs of disease, such as vomiting, regurgitation, diarrhoea and loss of condition, are seen in cases of gastrointestinal disorders. The term 'diarrhoea' may not always be a strictly accurate one, as polyuria also causes the production of watery droppings due to the fact that the cloaca functions as a communal collecting chamber for both the digestive and urinary systems. It may therefore be difficult to distinguish between these two conditions. This article describes the diagnosis and approach to treatment of the more common gastrointestinal diseases in psittacine birds.

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