Swollen abdomen, lethargic and weak hen

LaLady

In the Brooder
11 Years
Sep 24, 2008
16
3
22
Connecticut
My 2 year old hen Olive has been struggling with some unknown illness for the past few weeks (or maybe longer, she hasn't been laying in over a month). When I first realized she was ill she was not moving around or eating, and had labored breathing, so I brought her to the vet. They said she was congested and that her abdomen seemed swollen, but x-rays and probing found nothing wrong (not egg bound). So they gave her antibiotics (baytril) and a shot of anti-inflammatory med, and I brought her home. Within a few days of TLC she was looking a lot better and was breathing normal and had some appetite. But she hasn't gotten completely better, and she isn't improving anymore.

Her abdomen is still swollen - below where the "keel" bone ends. It isn't a hard swelling - it feels "plump". She waddles around like a duck - she doesn't stand up all the way, and she's very weak. She was pooping nicely the first few days of treatment when I was hand-feeding (with a straw) a nutritious mixture, but I stopped feeding her myself when she showed some interest in eating on her own. But now her poop is mostly all water, so I guess she's not eating enough.

All she's interested in eating is apples and a tiny amount of her layer feed if I grind it up into dust. She seems to be drinking a lot of water, but maybe it's a normal amount. She refuses my nutritious mix (yogurt, honey, oatmeal, olive oil, cooked yolk). Other people seem to have luck with the soaked bread technique so maybe I will try that tomorrow.

Anyone out there have any experience similar to this? I'm mostly concerned about the swelling.. the vet couldn't find the source of the swelling on the x-ray. I think it's getting more swollen, though I can't say for sure. The vet mentioned that it might be a tumor, but he wasn't sure. And because she really did improve quite a bit with the week's worth of TLC I gave her, I figured it must have been something else, but now I don't know.
 

LaLady

In the Brooder
11 Years
Sep 24, 2008
16
3
22
Connecticut
She's still in the same shape today, maybe a little bit perkier. It's warm outside today so I put her out with her sisters, and she's waddling around and foraging. I found she really likes to eat bread. I spoke with the vet yesterday and he said it could be internal laying, or possibly a tumor. He said either way there wasn't much he could do, so to just wait and see how she does. He gave me more Baytril to give her twice a day, and also Metacam (an anti-inflammatory med for dogs) once a day, both orally. She's still pooping mostly water, but maybe that's the water retention leaving her body. I'll keep you posted. I hope your chick is feeling better Raven.
 

LaLady

In the Brooder
11 Years
Sep 24, 2008
16
3
22
Connecticut
She's seems perkier now, and I think her abdominal swelling is going down. She's stronger and able to fly up to roost at night with her sisters, so I have started to leave her outside again.

However, she's still drinking A LOT and pooping almost straight water, with some green goo and undigested food bits (no blood). I haven't seen any white stuff (urates) in her poo for weeks now. Her crop appears to be impacted (not smaller in the morning), though maybe it's just full of water, I can't tell. She is eating, or at least pecking at food, but her appetite isn't normal. It seems like her digestive system isn't running right, like she's constipated.

I have no idea what to do for her at this point.
 

noodleroo

Snuggles with Chickens
9 Years
Apr 29, 2010
2,458
15
171
Rockport, Tx
Sounds like a digestive tract issue, possibly a blockage somewhere. Have you tried giving her a sitz bath in warm water and gently (very gently) massaging her tummy? I'd start at the breastbone and using very gentle pressure, stroke her in a strait line toward her vent, repeatedly. Even if you don't do the warm bath, the gently massage on her tummy might help. It should feel good to her, but if it doesn't, stop immediately. Hope whe gets back to normal soon...
 

gallusdomesticus

Songster
11 Years
Nov 14, 2008
413
57
191
Lynn Haven, FL
Ascites (water belly) is caused by liver disease or congestive heart failure. Your symptoms sound like it except for the watery poop. More probable is an obstruction in her digestive track. Warm bath and massages are probably in order as well as adding some olive oil to her food, or giving it orally, to help ease things along. Hope she gets better
 

Austrachick

In the Brooder
Oct 24, 2016
24
7
44
Qld Australia
my little girl pepper has been having the same issues and I have tried the warm bath with salts a massage and yoghurt. I have just given her about 5ml of olive oil.
Did your girl pull up, I hope so I have taken a few losses lately and down to only 2 hens.
Thank you if any one has any ideas to help please share.
 

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