by Maneka Gandhi
It is so annoying when people keep birds without knowing anything about them. Unfortunately, no vets know anything either,” laments Maneka. In this week’s Pet Talk, she explains about feather cysts.
My pet guinea pig has a swollen foot and is unable to walk properly. It is also losing hair on the same foot
One of the main reasons is having wire mesh for it to walk on in its cage. Pododermatitis is a condition in which a guinea pig’s footpad becomes inflamed, develops sores, or becomes overgrown. The appearance may be similar to callouses, or small tumours on the bottom of the foot. This condition is commonly referred to as bumblefoot.
When bumblefoot is left untreated or is present in a very severe form, there are sometimes complications in treatment and the infected leg may have to be amputated.
The infected guinea pig’s footpads may become inflamed (redness), develop sores, or become overgrown over the course of many months. Other signs and symptoms include: Loss of hair on affected foot; Reluctance to move or inability to walk normally; Loss of appetite due to pain; Joint or tendon swelling.
Pododermatitis can be difficult to cure. Start with switching your pet’s living quarters to ones with a smooth bottom, improving sanitation, and changing the bedding to softer material. Your veterinarian will likely clean any wounds, clip the hair around the affected areas, and trim any overgrown nails.
Affected feet should be soaked in an antibiotic solution, and antibiotic ointment should be applied. In severe cases, animals may need antibiotics and pain medications.
One of my parakeet’s feet is turning purple. It seems to be getting darker and he is less and less able to support himself with it. He was trying to sleep and kept falling off his food dish. What should I do?
It is so annoying when people keep birds without knowing anything about them. Unfortunately, no vets know anything either. The few people who can diagnose bird diseases in India do it because they are self taught. If your parakeet’s foot was simply slightly more purple than the other foot, and it was not affecting his behaviour, this would only be a pigment-related issue. However, the fact that he can’t use the foot to stand on means the colouring is probably due to a decrease in circulation. As the circulation becomes worse, or the longer it continues, the more damage will be done to the local area. He may have full use of the limb but no feeling (much like “pins and needles” in humans), and therefore not stand on it, or he may be losing the functionality of the limb. Loss of circulation creates lack of oxygen supply to the cells in the area, which will eventually lead to necrosis and loss of the limb. You will need to have your bird examined immediately.
My parrot has a yellow lump on its back. The lump seems to be growing bigger, rapidly. What should I do?
Feather cysts are a common skin and feather condition in pet birds. It occurs when a new feather fails to come out and instead curls up under the skin, within the feather follicle. As the feather grows, the lump — caused by the ingrown feather — also continues to grow until the feather cyst becomes an oval or long swelling. At times, it can involve one or more feather follicles at a time.
A feather cyst can occur anywhere on the bird’s body. In parrots, however, it is commonly seen in the primary feathers of the wing. And although any bird can suffer from feather cysts, it usually occurs in parrots, macaws (blue and gold), and canaries, which usually have multiple feather cysts.
In most birds, feather cysts are caused by an infection or an injury to the feather follicle. Treatment consists of surgically removing the involved feather follicles. If the follicle is just incised and the feather with its accumulation of keratin is removed, it will usually recur.
A man down the road has several donkeys that he uses for carrying bricks. One donkey limps. He also has some pus in his hooves. What should I do? He won’t let me take them to a vet.
See if you can bring a vet to the donkeys. Abscesses in the hoof are a common cause of lameness. In donkeys they are most often caused by small stones or other matter penetrating the weakest part of the foot, the junction between the wall and the sole (the “white line”). Bacteria and other microorganisms are also introduced. The white blood cells, trying to eliminate this infection, accumulate as a build-up of “pus” between the hoof wall and the internal sensitive tissue. The pain is often intense and gets worse, unless the pressure from the buildup of pus is released. Such donkeys will often prefer to lie down and walk only slowly, trying to bear the least possible weight on the affected foot. Treatment of foot abscesses includes Foot dressings which should be kept clean and changed regularly, probably daily. (Waterproof adhesive tape and “silage bag patches” are useful outer coverings to protect from wet and dirty underfoot conditions.)
Be warned. Some very lame donkeys will seem to improve if infection breaks out at the coronary band (the top of the hoof). Prompt veterinary attention is still needed.
Regular tetanus vaccination relieves the worry of this potential complication.
Wet muddy fields, small sharp stones on tracks and stable floors and bouts of laminitis all increase the risk of foot abscesses.