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Choices to Euthanize.. 
18th-Apr-2009 06:32 pm
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Greetings all... I need support and advice.

I have a cockatiel that is at least
30 years old... and yes that is an accurate number. I have had him for 25 years and he had two previous owners before me.  He rapidly lost the flight feathers on one wing and has developed tumors on both feet rendering him unable to perch. He was perching fine then out of the blue he has lost the ability. He still sings and interacts, yet is sleepy most of the time.  I fear now I must put him down....  and it is breaking my heart--yet it is his heart that matters for he cannot vocalize his pain

Have any of you do so with your regular vet? Do they just use a small injection? How much does this cost (and it sucks royally to have to ask that question).The closest avian vet is three hours from me
. Without the ability to move his feet and perch, I fear he will pass soon. I simply don't know whether to wait out the end or just help him along.  I had to hold him in my hand today so he can comfortable eat.  My thanks....



Comments 
18th-Apr-2009 10:57 pm (UTC)
I have no advice for you, but I want to extend my sympathies. This must be terribly hard. I came close once to euthanizing a canary hen who was losing feathers and getting weaker, but she was clinging so hard to life that I couldn't bring myself to do it.
19th-Apr-2009 01:27 am (UTC)
He's been around for so long... I am having a hard time even thinking of easing his path. Yet if he is hurting.... it is such a tough choice. Many thanks for your sympathies
18th-Apr-2009 11:47 pm (UTC)
I'm really sorry about your bird. =\

I once found a hurt wild bird and took it to the local vet and they were able to euthanize it. I'm not sure about the cost - they did it for free. My advice would just be to call a local vet and ask their advice. They're generally really understanding.
19th-Apr-2009 01:26 am (UTC)
Good point to call and ask. I live in a small town and chances are they may even assist me without cost. Not many folks around her deal with birds... Thanks for the support
19th-Apr-2009 12:46 am (UTC)
You have my support whatever you choose to do. This is a difficult decision to make for a lifelong friend who can't tell you how he feels.

If I were in your situation I would choose to wait. If I knew I could have any more time with my babies I would grasp it greedily.
19th-Apr-2009 01:25 am (UTC)
I am hoping the choice is made for me and if need be he just tucks his head in his wing and sleeps...

Thanks for the words
19th-Apr-2009 01:08 am (UTC)
I am so sorry to hear about your situation, and it makes me wish so much that there was something I could really do to help. It IS a difficult situation, especially for a bebe you've had for so long. I can't even imagine what you're feeling right now.

Personally, and this is just me, of course, I'd probably call up the avian vet and see what they had to say. I think that if he is showing signs of pain, then chances are, it would be better for him to go that direction. But yeah, it's a hard call. And neither option seems very good at the moment.

I want you to know that I'm thinking about you and your little guy, and my heart goes out to you both. Whichever decision you make, it's one you have to live with, so choose what's best for the both of you. I offer you many hugs, as well as my thoughts and prayers.
19th-Apr-2009 01:24 am (UTC)
Your icon is wonderful! He seems to show pain. He is squinting his little eyes closed.

I guess we just expect this little guys to go on and on, especially if they make it to 30!
19th-Apr-2009 01:48 am (UTC)
Thanks! Those are my two little babies.

And aww, I'm SO sorry. I hate to say it, but he sounds a little like my first baby when he left us. We think he had a tumor in his stomach, and he was only a few years old. I do know what you mean about expecting them to go on. After a while, when they've been around for so long, you just start to think they'll always be there. So yeah, I get it, and my heart goes out to you, totally and completely. *hugs*
19th-Apr-2009 01:12 am (UTC)
Are you sure it is tumors as opposed to gout? Reduced kidney function (or outright kidney failure) is common in older cockatiels, and this can often lead to gout (the build up of uric acid crystals in joints, usually the feet). My first cockatiel (Peeper, pictured in icon) passed away from kidney failure at age 16 and she suffered from gout for a few days first, with the inability to perch and stiff leg movements. It looked like really large white nodules under the skin of her foot joints. If your bird has gout but not total kidney failure then the gout can be treated with medicines, and you can also ask your vet about painkillers. If your bird does have total kidney failure then I'm sorry to say that the choice will probably be out of your hands in a few days.

I brought Peeper in for treatment a few days before the end - she'd been plucking for a few days so I had made a vet appointment for a week away, but when she suddenly was unable to perch I brought her in to an emergency vet. The vet put her in an incubator for a couple days, gave her subcutaneous fluids, and put her on some medicine for the gout/uric acid. The vet also told me to start considering euthanasia. At the time Peeper was still showing signs of enjoying life - she was begging for scratches continuously, and crooned with delight the entire time - and I still had hope of recovery (I was not aware that kidney failure in birds very rarely resolves favorably), so I did not consider euthanasia.

Even knowing now that kidney failure is usually fatal I still think I made the right choice since Peeper was still showing affection and enjoying the attention, and she was still eating and drinking. The only difference I would make to what I chose would be to ask for painkillers for her. Had she refused food or drink, or become unresponsive, then I expect I would have revisited the possibility of euthanasia. I personally would prefer to risk more pain than to risk prematurely ending a life, but it is a very personal decision that each person needs to make for him/herself and his/her own animal.

Best wishes in your decision.
19th-Apr-2009 01:23 am (UTC)
It could very well be gout as that is what this looks like and it did come on very suddenly. His feet have always been quite thin in his old age, now those tumor like growths have swelled his feet considerably. I noticed tonight that he has some sores now as well. >sigh<. With the lack of avian specialist in the area I feel between a rock and a hard place. He is eating, drinking and chirping yet when not... he sleeps.

My thanks for the words and support. I will research kidney failure and gout...
19th-Apr-2009 02:44 am (UTC)
Gout can come on suddenly or slowly, but AFAIK a sudden onset is more likely due to kidney failure than just kidney slowdown. If you are able to get to a vet I would really recommend it.

If the sores are red spots on the bottoms of his feet, it is likely pressure sores due to perches all of the same diameter. This is common in birds with only wood dowel perches. Because he's having difficulty perching I'd recommend addressing that problem first: put a hand towel over the grill at the bottom of his cage so he can stand comfortably on that. Put all his food and water in shallow dishes (or trays or plates) at the bottom of the cage. Remove the perches so he doesn't feel tempted to climb up higher. You can also build ramps and platforms to allow him to travel higher in the cage, try posting in parrot_lovers or ask user ltdead about this, as she has a cockatiel with a bad foot and she built him ramps.

Once again, best wishes to you and him. That's quite remarkable that he's 30 years old, and you are to be commended for giving him such a long and happy life.
19th-Apr-2009 03:04 am (UTC) - euthanasia methods
A few thoughts regarding euthanasia in case you do decide upon it, or wish to do more research. Firstly you can call up a vet (when you feel composed enough to do so) and ask about their prices and process. You would probably have the option whether to be present in the room and holding him during the process; if they do not allow you your choice, go elsewhere. Also ask about what services they offer for the remains. Likely the receptionist can tell you all the details, but please do ask for a vet tech or the vet him/herself if you want to hear it from the horse's mouth, or want to talk to the person who would be performing the euthanasia to know what s/he's like.

Regarding the remains, when Peeper passed away I brought her body back to the vet hospital who had been treating her asked for cremation with return of ashes. I think it took around 2-3 weeks and I seem to recall a price tag around $65. Her ashes were returned to me in a pine box slightly larger than her living body had been, and the bottom screwed off to reveal a tiny ziplock bag with her actual ashes. When Gabe (my second 'tiel, pictured in the icon) passed away unexpectedly I chose a full necropsy (because I wanted to know if it had been preventable so I could improve my bird care in the future, cost $150 I think plus the cremation/return cost) and it took 2 weeks to return her remains, 1 month for the preliminary results, and an additional 1-2 months for the full results (including tissue cultures). Both Peeper and Gabe's remains have been transferred to prettier boxes that better represent their personalities.

I've read more about euthanasia for cats and dogs than for small animals like our birds, and in their case I believe there's either two or three drugs that are given in order: muscle relaxant, a sleep drug, and something to stop the heart. They can be given in (two?) three separate shots, or in an IV. These drugs first sedate and calm the pet, and then allow him to pass away easily and without pain.

There are some rare circumstances where the vet may instead recommend what's called a "heart stick" - in this case there is the single drug that stops the heart, and it is administered by a large needle that is inserted directly into the heart through the chest. This is only given in circumstances where the animal is already entirely unconscious and unable to feel pain because the insertion of the needle through the chest would be extremely painful otherwise. A vet should not offer this if the animal shows any signs of consciousness at all, and I probably wouldn't agree to it even if my pet seemed unconscious because what if he really wasn't unconscious but was just asleep?

Lastly, animal shelters that euthanize sometimes have gas chambers (metal boxes the size of a mini-fridge). Most vets do not have these at their office since they are costly, the vets do not perform large-scale euthanizations, and most owners want to be able to hold their pet at the end. I would not agree to this because I would want to be with my pet at the end.

I hope this information helps if you do end up making a decision. *Hugs*
19th-Apr-2009 04:11 am (UTC)
No advice here. Like the others above me I wish you the best on your decision and give you my greatest sympathies, I have four feathered children myself, and i simply could not fathom making a decision like this. Just remember, it's the memories that last a lifetime, and the pictures in your heart that will last even further. 30 is a LONG AMAZING life in tiel time. I hope I am as lucky with my children and you were with yours. Best of luck, and we are all here if you need us. Keep us posted.
19th-Apr-2009 04:20 am (UTC)
im so sorry to hear about that. We've had to make decisions about our dogs before like that, and we usually tend to put them down instead of let them suffer for our own pleasure. But, it seems hes not really in pain, so maybe just helping him along will be okay until the end? I hope whatever you decide youre comfortable with. Im sure he's has a wonderful life and has loved you every minute of it.
19th-Apr-2009 04:27 am (UTC)
I am very sorry about the position you are in. I will tell you what *I* would do in this situation, but I am not telling you what *you* should do. If it was me, and there was not an avian vet nearby, I would call a local vet and see if they could euthanize the cockatiel for me. I am not one who would let my pets suffer if they were truly in pain. I personally do not feel it's fair to either of us. If a local vet could not do it, I would drive the 3 hours to the avian vet and have it done there. I would bring the remains back home with me and then bury him in the backyard under my apple tree.

please keep us updated on what you find out and decide.
19th-Apr-2009 03:22 pm (UTC)
I also give you my deepest, most heartfelt sympathies. There's no way anyone except you can make the decision to euthanize your baby or not. I know that in your situation I would probably choose to end my guy's suffering in the calmest, gentlest way I could. I'd hold him in my hands, scratch his head, and talk to him while waiting for the sedatives to take him away. If there was no chance of recovery and he was in pain, I'd rather set him free from that pain than hold onto him for my own sake.

Of course, this is all what I think I would do while I'm not actually faced with the decision. Only you know what's right for both you and your baby.
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