Peritonitis? Anything to do?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by attilathehen, Aug 28, 2014.

  1. attilathehen

    attilathehen Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 6, 2013
    I have a three year old ameraucana hen that I suspect has a case of internal laying/ egg yolk peritonitis. She's about 4 years old? She's always been very healthy. She laid a mess of egg white/yolk without a shell yesterday, and has been acting sick ever since. (I'd say she laid a shell-less egg, except this just looked like something that leaked out of her, it was not in any kind of egg like shape.) After discovering the egg-mess in the nest box, we found her with her feathers ruffled, wings drooped, and tail arched. She looked out of sorts. We gave her a bath in epsom salts then cleaned up her rear, which was messy with more egg-white or mucus looking mess. Her abdomen seemed a little swollen, maybe? Maybe a little bit red? Hard to tell if I am seeing things or not. Her vent is not prolapsed at all. She didn't seem to be egg bound, no hard mass to be felt. I did rub some antibiotic ointment on her vent, after we dried her off. I kept her inside in our bathroom overnight. She did not move at all, all night. She nibbled at some plum. Refused water. In the morning, I put her out in the sunlight, still separated from other birds, hoping to perk her up. She moves around a little more, but continues to act the same. She is uninterested in most food, although I got her to eat some sour cream (we didn't have yogurt), and some banana, but very little of either. She isn't interested in drinking. She continues to poop what looks like mucus-only poops, or perhaps it is more egg white draining out of her? Hard to say. I'm not sure there is much more to do, but if anybody has tips, I'd appreciate them. I may give her another epsom salt bath later, to at least try to keep infection out... but that's about the extent of what I can think to do for her at the moment.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2014
  2. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    Can you take her to a vet? A vet could give you Baytril (antibiotic), Meloxicam (anti-inflammatory), show you how to give subcutaneous fluids and show you how to tube feed. If the infection is in her repro tract, that sort of treatment could work, but if the infection is in her belly from internal laying, the prognosis is poor.

    Bathing can be very hard on them, so you might want to try filling your bathroom with steam and giving her some oral calcium to help her push out any remaining "bits". A few hours in a room of steam, along with the calcium can work wonders. Tums or regular human pills can be used.

    -Kathy
     
  3. attilathehen

    attilathehen Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the suggestions. We don't really have vets that deal with poultry where I am. Maybe some ag-extension people? I do already have some amount of experience dealing with poultry health, and friends with much larger farming operations that can weigh in or lend a hand. Anyhow, I'll keep posting with updates on what I'm doing, how it goes, and how the chicken is faring. Maybe there are others out there with a similar issue, and curious to learn more, or willing to chime in with their own experiences and treatments. Hopefully my bird rebounds. But I’m aware that even if she does, she isn’t likely to lay many eggs in the future. And I’ve learned that internal laying is likely to be a recurring problem. I’m not sure how many times it’s worth it to treat before calling it a loss. But for now I’ll hope for the best, and give this hen the best shot I can. (She’s always been a scrappy bird, and she stands out as one of our favorites.)

    For starters, in addition to some of the things I’ve read here, and on other sites, I found a great clip on you tube discussing internal laying/peritonitis. (). The gentleman in the video had a lot of success using duramycin, as did several other people whose experiences I read about, so I thought I'd give it a try too. The version of duramycin available in our feedstore is oxytetracycline. It’s a powdered antibiotic for treating a lot of general ailments, it dissolves easily in drinking water. I mixed some up according to the package’s directions in one of our old watering cans. Unfortunately, Rosie’s not too interested in drinking at the moment. But I got her to take a few mL of the antibiotic solution by rubbing it along the side of her beak and carefully squirting it into her beak with a syringe.

    I also went ahead and gave her another bath in warm water with Epsom salts. I’ve always found this to be more effective than the steam when dealing with egg binding, or maybe I've just found it way easier. Rosie seemed to like her bath. She relaxed, and you could tell the salts/warm water felt good on her bum because she didn’t try to hop out or keep the vent above water. I think the added benefit of a soak is that the salts help to clean out the vent and prevent infection. She seems a bit more peppy this afternoon when I checked on her. She gave a few good normal poos after her bath, watery, but not with much mucus/egg white in them. And while she was relaxing in her bath I gave her some yogurt and banana, which she voluntarily ate. Her abdomen doesn’t seem to be very swollen, so I’m hoping that the infection hasn’t really set in. It does still feel a little tender, and it looks a little red… so I’ve got my eye on it. Hopefully it stays that way and doesn’t worsen. I’ve read that others have had to drain their bird’s abdomens if/once infection set in. We’ve done this with a different bird for other reasons in the past. It is unpleasant, but it did work. For now, she seems to be okay, not great, but okay. I’ll post an update tomorrow.

    Also, since I gave her an antibiotic, I’m holding off on the calcium since I want to give the antibiotic a chance to work without blocking it. I had a tough time deciding if I should go with vitamins or with antibiotics. Perhaps it would be wiser to just push vitamins… too bad you can’t do both! If anybody out there has done one or the other with success, I’d be happy to hear about it! Never too late to change up the treatment.
     
  4. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    How at you going to keep her properly hydrated and get the correct amount of medications in her?

    Kathy
     
  5. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    You could give calcium by injection (calcium gluconate in cattle section a Tractor Supply). Given orally, calcium can bind with tetracyclines.

    -Kathy
     
  6. attilathehen

    attilathehen Out Of The Brooder

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    Awesome. I didn't know that. I'll see if they have it at our feed store. I think they do...
     
  7. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    FWIW, I give 100mg/kg subcutaneously to hydrated birds. Let me know if you need help calculating a dose.

    -Kathy
     
  8. attilathehen

    attilathehen Out Of The Brooder

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    I thought I'd post an update in case anybody out there is having similar chicken issues. I'm happy to report that my bird, Rosie, is so far on the mend. She seems back to her old self, her tail is upright again, she is interacting with the other birds, and eating and drinking voluntarily. My treatment ended up remaining quite simple. To recap her symptoms, she laid a shell-less egg, only it wasn't really a shell-less egg, it was more of a mess that looked like it leaked out of her. Following this event, we found her with her tail down, wings spread, looking a little listless with a very messy bottom. She was tired, and just not herself. I brought her inside, gave her a bath in warm water with epsom salts, cleaned up her bottom, dried her off, and put some antibiotic ointment on her vent. Her vent looked okay, but her abdomen seemed a little swollen, perhaps a little red. It was hard to say. It did not feel like she was egg bound, as there was not a hard mass to be felt. But things did seem a little off, and I was worried. I left her inside the house all night (in a warmer moist room), with food and water. I put some calcium supplement in her water, but she wouldn't touch it, and she really didn't move at all. The next day she seemed the same, tail down, not very mobile, straining and pumping her tail. So I gave her another warm bath in epsom salts. This time I massaged, very gently, around her abdomen to help her expel anything still inside. She seemed to enjoy the warm water, and find it relieving. She also seemed much happier to be back outside, so I just left her in the yard separated from the other birds. (It was a warm sunny day, so I bathed her outside too.) After her bath I gave her some antibiotics that I got at my local feed store. I used a version of duramycin, which others recommended as a good treatment for egg yolk peritonitis, which is what I was worried about. It was 3 dollars for a bag big enough to treat a whole flock of birds a few times. The name of what I bought was actually oxytetracycline. There were several general antibiotics that I think would have worked equally well based on what I've read and learned. I made some up according to the package instructions, adjusting the dosage for a more reasonable amount of water (I mixed up 1/4 gallon instead of 17 gallons!). I don't know if it was the anti-biotics, or the baths, or both, or just my bird fighting back herself. But she seemed better by the afternoon of day 2, still off, but better. It's now day 4 and she's just continually improved since then. I'm very hopeful that she will make a full recovery. I hope so, as she has been one of my best layers! But we'll take it one day at a time. I'm still giving her the antibiotics for a couple more days. I chose to just do the antibiotics, and not also give vitamins, as I didn't want the calcium to block absorption of the antibiotic. I've heard mixed things about simultaneously giving vitamins and and antibiotics. Most of what I heard said to avoid it. So I avoided it, but I also noticed my bird improving, so I wasn't particularly worried about not giving the vitamins.

    A couple complications. The antibiotic (and the vitamins that I got but didn't end up using) comes in a powder form that gets dissolved in drinking water. My bird wasn't particularly interested in drinking or eating initially. A good friend who works with wild birds at a wildlife rehabilitation center suggested dripping water along the side of her beak, as the bird's reflexes will kick in when you do this, and they will swallow the water. I found that this worked like a charm. It can be slow going, but for me it was much easier and safer then injecting the bird, and less stressful (for me and the bird). You just have to take special care that they don't get it in their wind pipes. You put the water right where the top beak meets the bottom beak, and let the droplets sit there, it seeps into their mouth, and eventually they swallow it. It worked like a charm with Rosie. I found it was easier to get a little syringe and use it to put droplets on her beak, and she would eventually swallow them. The syringe allowed me to measure how much she was drinking. We even got to a point where she would slowly drink from the syringe. Even better, we eventually got to the point where I could dip the tip of her beak into the water and she'd drink a few sips. This might not work with all birds, but if you're like me, and you want to take the least invasive path first, it's worth a shot. After the first day, she began eating and drinking voluntarily, so it was no longer an issue to get her to take water. However my other birds were really jealous, and kept flying over the enclosure to try to drink the water too, or eat the food I had out. I realized Rosie wanted to be around the other birds as much as they wanted to be with her and her food. Since she wasn't contagious, and since birds are social, I thought there were probably more benefits to letting them be together then keeping them apart. But I didn't want to treat them all with antibiotics. So instead, I cut up an apple, and let the pieces soak in the antibiotic. And a few times a day, I toss the saturated fruit to Rosie, and she gobbles it down. Now I know she's getting the antibiotics, and the other birds don't hop the fence to drink out of a medicated waterer. I have a feeling if I'd thought of this sooner, I could have tempted her with fruit bits even when she was refusing to drink. Oh well. I'll also add that none of my birds were acting antagonistically towards Rosie, otherwise I'd have kept her separate.

    Anyhow, if anything changes, I'll post updates. But I think it's nice to find instances in which birds have recovered, and to find examples of minimally invasive treatments that worked. Obviously not all cases are the same, and if your bird is not getting better, or has an obviously swollen abdomen, it's a more serious situation, and this isn't the path for you. So far Rosie's symptoms have seemed milder than other cases, which is why I felt comfortable with this approach. Good luck nonetheless!
     
  9. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    Glad she is better...

    Are you saying tube feeding is invasive? Done properly, it takes less than one minute to tube 120ml of fluids or food to a large bird and there is almost zero risk of aspiration. IMO this is the least invasive way to *properly* and *safely* hydrate a bird.

    Again, glad it worked for you and happy she is better. [​IMG]

    -Kathy
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2014
  10. attilathehen

    attilathehen Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks. I'm glad she's back to normal too. She isn't a particularly valuable bird, she's never won any prizes... but she certainly is a charismatic hen. And she's one of our original flock, so we are a little more attached to her.

    I think tube feeding is almost certainly an invasive procedure. Human friends of mine who have been intubated would agree! But invasive treatments aren't inherently bad, they are often life saving, and I'm not opposed to using them. I've used them myself in other scenarios - and sometimes that's what the situation warrants. I'd just note that procedures like tube feeding do introduce additional risks that are separate from the ailment being treated. Those risks may outweigh the risks of not acting. But they don't always. I'm never 100% confident that I can avoid those additional risks, even in the best of scenarios. I think a lot of people with chickens are probably in a situation similar to mine. We want to do what we can without making things worse. Tube feeding requires that you really know what you're doing, and have access to proper tools and supplies. Even with the proper tools you could do a lot of damage to the bird if you aren't confident in what you're doing - puncture its crop, introduce an additional source of infection, inadvertently overfeed. Even when you do know what you are doing these are risks. Using a bird's reflexes to coax it to eat and drink, if you can, is a nice way to avoid a lot of that risk.
     
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