Fighting PDD

What Helped Cheep-Cheep Survive a Chronic Gastric/Digestive Ailment for 9 Years

Disclaimer: I take absolutely NO responsibility for any tragic occurrences that come from trying these things out! I am not medically trained, and these may not work for you. Consult your vet in everything.

This was originally written in the early 2000's. Cheep passed away late in 2009 at the age of 18.


Back in 2000 or so, lovebird Cheep-Cheep (1991-2009) stopped being able to digest his food and was tentatively diagnosed with PDD (Proventricular Dilatation Disease; also called PDS, Macaw Wasting Syndrome, ... click here for the zillions of names/spellings it can go by).

Whether he has PDD or something else (and one 2009 test result indicated it might be something else unknown), it is my hope some of the techniques listed here may offer some ideas or inspiration to other people who have pet birds who, for whatever reason, are ill - especially those birds who have problems digesting their food. (I will say it over and over again: see your avian vet first. This page is not meant to replace professional care or to recommend a specific therapy.)

What's PDD? PDD strikes only birds (not humans) - it is a relatively newly discovered avian disease whose symptoms may include (according to the 'net) inability to digest food, throwing up, seizures, depression, weakness, destroyed organs, and everything in between (there may be multiple types of PDD - one that primarily attacks the digestive system, another that targets the neurological system, etc.). The transmission vectors are not clear. There is no cure, no vaccine, no reliable simple test for its presence! As of Summer 2002 there is finally a possible drug treatment (which is still NOT a cure).

Cheep's symptoms. Cheep-Cheep's problem could be something else, as the 2009 test results showed, but nothing else showed up in tests/laboratory results and he has not responded to antibiotics and anti-parasitic treatment. His primary symptoms are:

  1. lethargy (peach-faced lovebirds do not normally sit around quietly all day)
  2. fluffed up feathers (a sign that he is cold/ill)
  3. somewhat enlarged proventriculus as shown in an X-ray from 1/2000.
  4. throwing up/regurgitation - not the happy kind - contributes to starvation
  5. inability to digest his food - seeds pass through darkened but whole. His poop shows blackened, whole, individual seeds, instead of the nice homogenous green extruded stuff that healthy seed-eating birds produce.
  6. starvation/dangerous weight loss - his flesh simply starts to melt away, leaving just skin and feathers over bone. The keelbone test (feeling the bone that runs down the center of the chest) is how I check for weight loss. If it sticks out like a razor blade without a nice padding of flesh, there's a serious problem.
So, although he lacks the nastier symptoms of seizures and the like, and whether or not this is PDD or something different entirely, the upshot is that this tiny under-40-gram bird is always starving to death! So it's time to fight back against PDD or whatever this is. We took up several tactics that I believe have prolonged our friend's life. Many of these could be useful for sick birds in general. Note: There are probably many things I could have done better!

Table of Contents

These same tactics may not work for anyone else; moreover, incorrectly applied, some of these can be very dangerous! Some other tactics are probably a lot better than what I have here. Consult your avian vet on everything.

  1. Prompt vet trip, tests, and new medical treatments... do this first!!
  2. Force-feeding/handfeeding nutritious mush ... has saved Cheep-Cheep's life several times over!
  3. Keep him warm with a lamp ... this has also helped Cheep a lot, and is helpful to most sick birds.
  4. Check the food bowl often and replenish - and try adding fresh Prozyme! It has helped Cheep-Cheep a LOT.
  5. Avoid drafts ... important in general!
  6. Keep the cage clean ... also important in general!
  7. Avoid spreading the disease
  8. Love ... last but not least!
  9. Other PDD information links, including another PDD survivor story (yes, with hand-feeding and a different formula). Hmm, there's hope out there!
  10. My discussion of the proper spelling of this disease name

Trips to the Vet, Tests, and Treatment

Do this first! (Well, take care of any immediate needs first, but schedule that avian vet appointment right away.)

Rule out other problems. A qualified avian vet must eliminate other possible causes of digestive problems! With Cheep we've checked for infections, parasites like giardia (a protozoan parasite), megabacteria (now called avian gastric yeast), zinc poisoning (not yet tested for lead poisoning, but it's less likely), and everything else the vet could think of. (Note, though, that it is possible for an infection to develop in addition to PDD.) Cheep-Cheep did multiple courses of antibiotics and a course of anti-parasitics to no avail, but it was worth a shot.

2007 Note: A vet suggested Cheep may be having hormonal problems - and recommended against letting him hang out in dark, cave-like (nest-like) environs that could stimulate the reproductive drive (with its attendant physical upheavals). The vet also suggested hormonal injections to sort of reboot the body's hormonal levels. I have NOT tried this yet due to a feeling of concern, although the vet told me this is safe. Anyone who knows more about this, please tell me more.

PDD test? Last time I talked with my vet, there was a test for PDD - but it is not guaranteed to prove PDD and, since it involves taking tissue samples from inside the body, it could be too stressful or dangerous for a small sick bird! Given how fragile the vet said Cheep's digestive system looked, and how inaccurate the test sounded, we decided not to risk his health for a result that wasn't too accurate.

Drug Treatments As of Summer 2002 there is indication that COX-2 inhibitors (anti-inflammatories) such as Celecoxib (Celebrex) or Meloxicam (Metacam or Mobic) may be of benefit to PDD-infected birds .... However, it must be mentioned that Celebrex, at least, (1) requires special processing to be put into solution form and (2) requires constant refrigeration or else it degrades very quickly. (Make sure your vet is up to date on all this information.) This will be my next course of action. [Note: the bird refuses to eat his Celecoxib so I have to mix it into his handfeeding formula ... I hope it's not compromising the quality....]

Regular checkups: a bird with a chronic disease needs his vet checks! Especially if he's looking ill!

Discuss home treatments: Assuming you've gone through all this and PDD is still the most likely culprit, discuss with your vet any measures you want to take. My vet said handfeeding could be helpful for Cheep - at a later appointment the (different) vet said the handfeeding was keeping the bird alive - but get your vet's opinion for your bird. (If you decide to handfeed, ask your vet to show you how to do it safely.)

The owner needs to be in the know, and the vet is the person to ask!

Force(Syringe)-Feeding Easily Digestible, Nutritious Mush

As of 2007, Cheep was eating seed with Prozyme on it WITHOUT the need for syringe-feeding for some years. In 2008 and 2009, his digestive system again took a dive for the worse, and I found I had to feed him baby bird food three times a day, in addition to have human-grade enzymes (this time various capsule powders) on his seed. (Note he always needed the light-heat therapy, too.) But in any case, I have no doubt that the syringe-feeding saved his life several times over. The below describes the feeding technique I came up with for Cheep - remember, I am not a trained vet, so consult yours.

Cheep began refusing to eat pellets some time ago, so, given his precarious health, we switched to seed. (I envy people whose birds will eat nutritious mixtures of freshly prepared foods right out of the bowl.) But with PDD (or whatever it is), the seed is passed through nearly whole and largely undigested! In other words, the food is not digested well and he keeps losing weight.

So, now we sometimes force-feed (hand-feed) him a high-calorie mush with a small oral syringe, and it seems to help him ... a lot.

(Note: If your bird will eat a variety of things from a bowl, and you have the time and money, you can probably offer a complex, nutritionally complete natural diet without resorting to handfeeding stuff with the consistency of cream.)

When to Hand-Feed?

When Cheep starts losing weight or acting ill, we start up the force-feeding (after a vet trip, of course). Recently, for example, he stopped eating and was as thin as a skeleton -- we were shocked to pick him up and discover that his keel bone, which runs down the middle of his chest, felt as thin and sharp as a razor blade. In well-fed birds, the keel bone is hard to detect from the surrounding muscle and fat and feathers (when our cockatiel Tcsh was healthy, it was almost an indentation!). (Also, if you've ever dealt with whole chicken breast for dinner, you've seen how much flesh is on either side of the keel bone.) Cheep's keel bone has always protruded, but never quite like a razor blade. After precautionary medication at the vet, he came home - just as thin, even though he was eating again. It was time to syringe-feed.

The Mush: Ingredients

The mush I make is these days is primarily comprised of Harrison's Juvenile Bird Food. Previously it was Kaytee's Exact baby bird handfeeding powder, or you can also use Kaytee cockatiel pellets blended (in a Vita-Mix blender) until it becomes a fine powder (or else it clogs the syringe).

I take a small bit of the powder in a shotglass, mix with hot boiled water (roughly per the handfeeding formula directions), a few drops of olive oil (enough to add some high quality mono-unsaturated fat calories), and sugar (just enough to get it tasting recognizably sweet, but NOT as sweet as most sugary cereals, nor even as sweet as commercial yogurt), and I get a mush that has the approximate consistency of cream. These days I also add a pinch of spirulina, and mix it all carefully together. (If any of this sounds useful to you, please consult your vet first! Some birds perhaps cannot tolerate much fat or sugar, for example.)

In our case, the sugar not only adds calories, but is otherwise necessary because Cheep-Cheep spits out mush that isn't sweet enough for his taste! [Note: a healthier alternative would be to use fresh, raw fruit juices for the natural enzymes, at least in the long run. I've switched to doing this whenever possible, with this approximate recipe (apple, kale, banana, hint of ginger, orange juice). Note that cooked/pasteurized juices may not be much better than table sugar, since various enzymes have been destroyed by the heat.] The oil, by the way, I think may be helpful if used carefully -- the poop that comes out the other end is not oily, so I think it's getting utilized. (Also keep in mind that some nuts are 30-50% oil or more, so fat is not that unnatural for a creature in need of calories.)

I tried the "PDD Food" advertised in one of the links below; it's a fine white powder (sweet-smelling - like artificial banana scent) that seems to be somewhat accepted by Cheep but not as well as the home-made stuff -- I think it gunks up his mouth. I occasionally use it as an additive to the pellet-based stuff (one time he actually seemed to prefer the food with this stuff added), but he seems to do fine without. (Another mixture is described in this product testimonial.)

(Note on medication: In trying Celecoxib, I had to mix it in with the food. I add it near the tip of the syringe (and mix it with the food) so the bird gets it early, before he gets full.)

Other ingredients I sometimes include are: small quantity of birdie mineral block powderized with the pellets (they can clog the syringe, though, so might be a bad idea), Prozyme or other digestive enzyme (recommended by our vet, but I had to go online to find a source), a tiny bit of vitamins (currently I'm using Prime), a pinch of spirulina (helpful if you get the capsules and just empty part of a capsule into the mix), and/or yogurt, fresh yogurt starter, or Benebac (added at the end, so as to not kill the live cultures). [One veterinary technician has suggested ground up nuts - which I had problems with (too chunky) but is worth a shot. Nuts are a good source of good fats and protein.] I have occasionally added a few drops of milk or orange juice to thin a too-thick mixture, but please note I use low-fat or skim 100% lactose-reduced milk. Lactose is a sugar that many adult humans have trouble digesting - just imagine what problems a bird might have; plus, milk fat is known to be of questionable long-term safety for at least human health. Bird lovers often bake/cook creative meals for their feathered friends - I figure I can get a little creative with this mix as long as I don't put in any toxins (e.g., chocolate, caffeine, too much of a particular vitamin, etc.), irritants (e.g., raw garlic or onion juice), or bad germs - and I don't overdo it. Variety and moderation are good, and caution is called for with sick birds.

Catching and Feeding

Our 'tiel Tcsh freely eats things like yogurt out of a spoon (if he sees us eating first). Alas, Cheep does not... in fact, he runs away from any strange food. (For a lovebird he is very chicken.)

Hence, once I'm sure the food is at a warm but not too hot temperature, I catch Cheep in a small towel. Then, either I, or a helper and I, force-feed him with a syringe. This is dangerous if one has no idea what one is doing. Some things I definitely note/avoid:

  1. I've read that squeezing a bird's chest may suffocate him - so I'm very careful to always leave his chest free to heave!
  2. if I get food up the windpipe, the bird may get a fatal respiratory infection!
  3. don't tilt the bird onto its back because it increases the risk of getting food in the lungs.
  4. while holding the head, I watch out for the eyes and try not to risk damaging them.
  5. I am always careful to never bend his neck in such a way that it might harm him, especially when catching him and removing him from his cage.
  6. I remember that, unlike a human, a parrot's upper mouth (upper beak) must be free to move in addition to the lower "jaw."
The trick is to get practice catching and holding a bird, preferably with a vet's supervision, and then figure out how to feed small increments of food in a safe manner (also with a vet's help if the bird is recalcitrant). For example, I do NOT point the syringe down the bird's throat (which can lead to food in the lungs); I point it sideways into the tip of his beak. [Note: experts could probably do it differently, but I'm not an expert.] Thankfully, since Cheep will eat sweetened mush if it's put into his mouth, just putting it into the tip of his beak means that from there he can move the food to his throat with his tongue, rather than me doing it messily and dangerously with the syringe (though he still sometimes gets some up his nose and he sniffles for a while). If the food's not sweet enough, though, that little tongue pushes it all right out of his beak! (Note: If you have to pry open a struggling bird's beak, two people are necessary -- especially since a tiny bird tongue is surprisingly powerful and good at pushing away syringes -- but if the bird gets used to this, relaxes, and enjoys the flavor, then only one person is needed.)

Remember: Consult your vet with everything, including how to handfeed, how much to handfeed, what to feed, and where to get oral syringes of the right size. (The vet should have a supply or can tell you where to get them.)

After handfeeding, I wipe up any mess on face/beak, and these days have started the habit of wiping off his beak at the sink with wet clean tissue paper or just plain wet fingers, then drying off with a clean bit of tissue paper (do NOT use detergent/soap!). Beaks are sensitive, and I think he finds it pretty gross to have stuff dried on, so it's good to clean up right away.

Despite the cleaning, Cheep-Cheep will typically wipe his beak on handy items nearby, especially his cage bars. He then sits quietly for several hours, as the food and stress seems to make him lethargic and perhaps feel a bit ill - though sometimes he starts eating seed almost immediately after he gets back to his cage! Obviously the quantity I feed him isn't too filling.

Throwing Up?

Cheep would occasionally throw up some of the mush. There are a few things I think may help:

Our Results

Several times over the past couple years, I've let handfeeding lapse and Cheep has, over the course of weeks or sometimes months, gone down to skeleton thin. Each time I have resumed handfeeding, and the results are fairly consistent (though I do think he's slowly getting more lethargic every year).

10 days of feeding about 1.5 ml to 2.5 ml (that's half a teaspoon for a tiny bird who weighs 36 grams or so!) of this once (rarely twice) a day produces a faintly noticeable change during the keelbone test. At 15 days, the difference becomes obvious, and he actually weighs 1-2 grams more. Yes, there's actually padding under the feathers at this point, instead of just skin and bone (though I do wonder if the new padding is fat or muscle or both). Unfortunately(?), past this point I tend to get lazy and worried about the fat/sugar content and I hold back a bit, and he stops gaining obvious weight. (I think he also feels better and starts complaining more about being forcefed.)

Things like sudden cold snaps combined with a reduction in feeding frequency can result in sudden weight loss, so I think consistent and frequent feeding during times of environmental stress may be a good idea. For Cheep, a "maintenance" program might be force-feeding him, on average, once a day for 2 out of 3 days. (Once every other day is not enough to promote consistent weight maintenance.) During the build-up phase daily feeding, with maybe one day off in seven to let his system rest, seems to work well.

Since handfeeding seems to cause him to just sit and vegetate for a while, it's hard to say that he's definitely happier for it. (Another reason I think I ought to give him a "break" periodically, once he has enough reserves to handle it.) But I think he is better for it - there's less fatigue/exhaustion in his eyes, and the weight gain by itself is proof that something is going right. The other proof is in his energy level is when I give him a day or two's break from handfeeding. He certainly seems to be more energetic and cheerful on those days, compared to the days when he was fast becoming a skeleton with feathers. Plus, he does seem to have more will/desire to fight the handfeeding the plumper he gets! That's a good sign, even if counterproductive.

I must suggest that, without handfeeding (plus the lamps, the extra seed, and so on), Cheep would have died over two years ago. He may yet pass on soon, but I've been given an extra two years with him. That's not bad, in my book.


I worry that so much sugar and grease is a strain on the pancreas and liver. Simple sugars like table sugar are not generally healthy in the long run (a bit of research shows the problem is twofold: fast glucose processing and the difficulty of digesting fructose (glucose and fructose make up table sugar)), and processing oil can also be hard on the body. And yet, he needs the sweetness and he needs the calories. (I mentioned these concerns to my vet and she looked me in the eye and said (approx.), "It's always a balancing game, isn't it?" - that's what medicine often is, playing the balancing game between treatment and killing the patient.) Also, even the pellet mush doesn't look completely digested; vitamin supplementation may be a good idea, though I don't know how much to use (who can tell, with this disease?) - sticking with a natural supplement like spirulina or plenty of blenderized greens may not be a bad thing.

Storage: The powder I leave in the freezer. I also keep some prepared mush refrigerated and ready, but precautions must be taken against rancidity, oxidation, and too many sessions in the microwave (nuking seems to affect the quality -- I keep the bulk in the fridge and remove/heat only the portions needed for the next meal - and, by the way, 7 seconds of heating the tiny portions is often too long!). One hint is that the greater the surface area exposed to open air, the faster any food will go rancid. But in any case, there's a limit to how long anything this nutritious and bland can be stored in the fridge. I throw out anything over about a week old. If I make a mixture using raw fruits and vegetables instead of sugar, four days is the absolute longest I'll ever keep it.

All that said, though, I must reiterate that Cheep would've died several times over without this feeding!

Syringe Tricks

Technically I think one is supposed to use a new syringe for every feeding(?), but I personally can't afford to do that. So I reuse the syringe - it's used only with Cheep, never with other birds.

For cleaning, I've found that wet, soapy paper towel when jammed all the way into a reasonably large oral syringe (with a smaller-size plunger shaft to push it in and rotate it around) can reach where fingers can't. Vinegar dissolves away detergent with incredible ease. There should be no signs of oil or leftover food in the syringe. I rinse everything carefully in water after washing, and also before the next feeding.

I have found a real, dangerous problem with reused oral syringes when the rubber plunger tip starts to degrade and "stick." (If soaked too long, the rubber will even leave a black smear in the syringe!) When this happens, I find it all too easy to push too hard to overcome the "stickiness" and then squirt way too much food out. If I did this at the wrong angle I could easily send food into Cheep's lungs, which could be fatal. (This can also happen if there are lumps in the food that clog the syringe.)

These days I remove the degraded rubber plunger tip and encase the plunger plastic shaft itself (I'm actually using a plunger shaft from a one-size-smaller syringe) in a layer or two of fresh, clean plastic wrap. I pour the liquid food into the syringe from the back end, and then insert the plastic-wrapped plunger until it's firmly pushed into the food (I do hold the front tip closed so the food doesn't squirt out the front while all this is going on). The syringe cannot be used to draw up fluid, but it can be used to push out fluid. Actually it works VERY well (if not too much plastic wrap is used) - there is no sticking and hence much less danger of pushing too hard. One big drawback is, because the plastic wrap does not provide a perfect seal and the food leaks past the plunger and gets stuck all over the plastic wrap, I not only waste more food, but I have to guess as to how much food is making it into the bird. On good days Cheep himself is setting the food limits. (Note: for this to work, the food must be liquid enough to flow out, yet viscous enough not to leak freely out through the plastic wrap. Again, the consistency of thick cold cream works pretty well.)

Warmth and Heat

Sick birds need to stay warm, especially if they don't have enough caloric reserves!

After some failures with trying a heating pad, I bought a grow-light and placed it near the cage. (I'm careful to keep flammable objects, including cage covers, away from it!) For cooler weather I use two lamps! Cheep often huddles up near the lamp, and he often rushes to the lamp when he gets back in his cage (especially after a bath), so clearly it is doing its job. As with the force-feeding, I think this one has been a lifesaver for Cheep, especially in the winter. (Remember to get an incandescent, not a fluorescent or LED, lamp. Fluorescent and LED bulbs ARE energy efficient, but this means they produce light instead of heat. In this case, what you want is the heat, not necessarily the light! Replace all your other bulbs but don't replace your birdie heat bulb!)

Note: There are also plenty of places in the cage that are NOT heated, so the bird can cool off if he needs to. Always make sure there are cooler areas for the bird to escape to.

I leave the lamp on all the time, especially as nights are cooler. (It really helps to buy 20,000 hour long-life bulbs - I'm using the 75W one.) However, the dark cloth cage cover (with a towel over top, so two layers of cloth) both reduces the light reaching the cage (and the sleeping bird - we've checked the light levels and hardly any light is going in at all) as well as acts as insulation. Obviously, I have to be careful with the cage cover and the hot bulb!

I place the bulb between 2-5 inches away from the side of the cage, depending on the ambient temperature and the bird's current health.

Watch for sudden dips in temperature. A recent drop from hot and humid to cold weather caught us with the window open near the bird cage overnight. Even with the cage cover eliminating drafts, Cheep apparently got chilled and fared extremely poorly the next couple days!

Watch out on really hot days - turn OFF your lights if the weather nears goes over 90-95 F. Recently on a very hot day (probably 100ish Fahrenheit), I came by the cage and found Cheep with his wings spread out a bit, the feathers plastered flat to his body (making him look ridiculously thin), and looking like he wanted to start panting. These are danger signs of an overheating bird - immediate action is necessary. I turned off one of the heat lamps, took him to the sink for a drink of cold water (he likes the faucet), and he was much happier. However, a few days later it got cool enough (70's and 80's...not that cool, really!) that I turned both lamps on again.

If you turn off the lamp at night, remember to turn it on in the morning! Recently we have been been turning off the lamp at night for safety reasons. However, if the light is NOT turned on in the morning because someone forgets, Cheep is lethargic and generally unhappy for up to a couple days after. In the mornings, first thing he does is run for the lamp. This light makes a BIG DIFFERENCE!

Note: I am also considering buying a brooder - they have temperature and humidity controls.

Frequent Food Checks and Enzymes

Enzymes and other things - yes, they seem to help (for us at least)! Vets have previously recommended adding enzymes (such as Prozyme) to his food. Prozyme really seems to help, though in retrospect (2009) perhaps his digestive system recovered somewhat from the baby bird food handfeeding. It took me a while to find a place that carries it (I resorted to a reputable large online petstore). I have now been using Prozyme successfully for over a year, and Cheep is no longer losing weight! NOTE: In 2008, after a relapse, I switched to human-market capsule enzymes. Enzymes need to be refrigerated, but I can successfully keep a small heaping quantity out near the birdseed (I refill every few days) and simply sprinkle it on (actually I add a bit to a scoop of seed, tap the scoop to get the powder to settle through the seed, then dump the seed into the bowl - the powder winds up on top). However, please note I do feed him a fresh batch of (enzyme-coated) seed at least three times a day. (See below!) Also note: his poop at first looked only partially digested, but I actually think it has been improving of late. However, I am not willing to take Cheep off the Prozyme to check. It's just great to see him cheepy again, though.

I feed him whatever he wants, frequently. Cheep-Cheep still does eat seed, and he does get some amount of nutrition from them. But he has to eat a lot more seed for this, I believe, than normal. (In some other PDD reports, owners say their birds became ravenous and ate all the time.) Plus, he's gotten lazy about digging below the layer of empty hulls for any remaining seeds. As such, I check the food bowl as often as possible -- every few hours if I can -- replenishing it with fresh seed whenever the top layer has become nothing but empty hulls and husks (and I also clean it out whenever some stray poop winds up in the food). For some reason, he's gotten pickier about what he eats, too. Depending on his health, he goes on food fads -- when he feels ill, he eats only oat groats. So, he got oat groats. (The fad goes away when he's feeling better; then he won't touch oats.) In other words, whatever he wants to eat in quantity is supplied -- there's no danger of him getting fat from seeds with his digestive troubles!

I really wish he'd eat pellets, but he started seriously turning up his beak at them and we'd rather have him eating something.

In a recent problem, he was being fed a mixture of seed that had a high quantity of things he didn't like. This seemed to contribute to a marked weight loss.

Normal food is not enough! Also keep in mind that as much seed as we provide is not enough ... he still gradually loses weight and is then in need of force-feeding (though Prozyme has changed this!).

Water. As for the water, see the note on cleanliness. I had to switch to a water bottle. I also would add vitamins to his water, but I know for a fact that Cheep, in the past, has gotten dehydrated rather than drink "adulterated" water, so I have not done this.

No Drafts

We also now leave a cloth partially covering the cage all day -- this cuts down on drafts. It's especially important to ALWAYS block any direct airflow from any vents or windows. Of course, the cloth is kept well away from the lamps!

Also, Cheep used to "eat" terry cloth, so now the cage cover cloth is smooth and uninteresting to chew on.

Clean the Cage

Birds with PDD are apparently more vulnerable to infections.

Keep the cage clean. I personally can be lax about cage cleaning (a bad habit). Whenever the bird looks under the weather, we guiltily and hurriedly wash the cage in the bathtub or sink, and it seems to help -- which is bizarre, because theoretically it ought to be too late! Well, better late than never, I guess, but still:

Wash the cage BEFORE the bird gets ill!

Also, wash the cage after (and frequently during) any antibiotic treatments -- you don't want the bird reinfecting himself, nor do you want to encourage antibiotic-resistant germs.

About Water: Oh yes ... the bird's water is changed daily at the minimum, and is now in a commercial avian water bottle so that he doesn't poop in his own drink. The water bottle is cleaned thoroughly with detergent, and is rinsed with vinegar before a final water rinse. (Of course, we had to make sure he knew how to drink from the water bottle before changing over from a bowl.)

Don't Expose Other Birds

We try to keep the lovebird away from the other birds. Moreover, we also throw away his leftover seed, instead of composting it, because wild birds have a knack of finding the seed and eating it. (Though now I think about seagulls over garbage dumps, and I wonder if the trash is safe....)

We also do not compost his cage paper, also to reduce other birds' exposure to PDD.

Something else I just realized also is that keeping stationery such as envelopes etc. near a sick bird might be a bad idea -- stray bits of bird fluff could possibly help carry the disease through the postal system. Argh.

However, the last news I read is that PDD is relatively fragile and tends to die at longest within a few days, if not a few minutes. Scientists are apparently still not sure how it is spread, though.

Plenty o' Love!

The one other vital thing is to love your bird. When I was busy with a daily work routine, I tried to stop every morning, no matter how late I was to the office, and give Cheep a brief head-scratch. I think that helped him a lot! When I got out of the habit, I think his health suffered.

This is of course in addition to regular daily attention in the evenings.

Tell him how cute he is and give lots of attention!

And a final note is that I personally believe prayer has helped both Cheep-Cheep and my cockatiel. I cannot prove this, but I would not hesitate to ask friends to pray for my birdies whenever they need it.

Some links to help/information on PDD

Other Names for PDD

One thing that does NOT help anyone doing research/web searches on this disease are the many many ways of spelling/misspelling the name. I got tired of this and decided to contribute my $0.02 and help get this straightened out - and also help people find this page too ;)

Other ways of spelling this disease, if you're doing a Net search, include or may include:

I believe the correct spelling is "proventricular dilatation disease" ... here's why I think so:

One COULD wish that an easier name had been chosen... oh well... I hope the name is standardized SOON so people have an easier time researching this important information.

Just call it PDD - that avian disease to be fought and eradicated as soon as possible.

Disclaimer: I take absolutely NO responsibility for any tragic occurrences that come from trying these things out! I am not medically trained, and these may not work for you. Consult your vet in everything.
Back to top

My main bird page