Water belly? 1.5 Y/O Hen - Advice Please!

Grey Gables

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Dec 30, 2019
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Hello - hoping to get some advice.

I have a 1.5 year old Easter Egger who has had a swollen abdomen since Saturday (at least that's when I discovered it). I immediately knew something was up, as she didn't exit the run with the other chickens that morning. She is my most skittish chicken and never lets me approach her (although she'll sit on my lap if I let her come to me). Saturday, I walked right up to her and got both hands around her, which is when I discovered the swollen abdomen. Droopy comb, quiet, lethargic, didn't move around much. At that point I was wondering if she was eggbound. Later in the afternoon I did try an epsom salt soak, which she miraculously tolerated (further concerning me... she must really be feeling bad). I did add some vaseline to the vent area and tried to feel around for any broken eggs. I felt nothing. She was pooping mostly clear watery poop all day. Seemed to want to drink a lot of water. At this point, I began wondering if something was wrong internally and she had water belly. I took her back to the coop and she spent the night in the nesting box.

Sunday morning, she seems sliiightly more perky. Still droopy comb. Her rear feathers were wet looking, assuming from all the watery poops. She did spend some of the day outside, slowly walking around and eating grass. She was feeling well enough to run when I tried to check her out, but I managed to corner her and sure enough, she still had a swollen abdomen. She was able to fly up to the roost in the coop and slept on the roost Sunday night.

Sunday morning, this was the poop I found in the nesting box from her after she'd been in there overnight.
IMG-7590.jpg


Sunday, moving around in the fenced grassy area some.
IMG-7594.jpg


Sunday, wet rear from the watery poops.
IMG-7601.jpg



This morning (Monday), she is about the same, but back to being very still/lethargic. She's hardly moved. Today she has some solid-ish poop, but lots of water coming out with it. And the poop is yellowish.
IMG-7634.jpg


IMG-7637.jpg



Some background on this chicken -- not sure if ANY of this is relevant, but thought I'd share:
-I've had her since she was a day old and she's always been very healthy
-Her last couple of eggs were rather pointy (like a Conehead)
-She does lay the occasional shell-less egg... maybe once a month? Which seems like a lot?
-She's always had weird calcium buildup on her eggs
-She lives with 3 other hens in a run/coop with sand (cleaned twice a day)
-Access to fairly large fenced grass area to "free range"
-Access to water in the run and fenced grassy area
-Access to oyster shells
-I feed Kalmbach layer feed and limited treats
-Her crop has felt squishy full... but I want to say that it's from all the water she's drinking... ? I've not smelled any weird odors coming from her.
-I have not heard any gurgling sounds

Naturally, my chicken vet is on vacation this week. I hate to see my hen so uncomfortable/miserable. I'm not really sure what to do for her. I've read about chickens having their abdomen drained, but overall, water belly is not a good sign - right? Something internal isn't working and is causing fluid to build up? I guess I'm wondering if I take her somewhere else, is it worth draining? Will she have good quality of life/more time? We have a MedVet that will see birds. I'm super torn on whether or not to take her there. Half of me wants to try/do whatever to make her feel better, the other half of me says I'm crazy to rack up a MedVet bill for a chicken that might be dying anyway. Would love any wisdom or info on water belly (if that's what you think this is based on my info) from you experienced chicken keepers! My chickens are like pets but I try to be rational/logical... which is hard. :) Thank you!
 
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Wyorp Rock

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She does lay the occasional shell-less egg

She's always had weird calcium buildup on her eggs

Her crop has felt squishy full... but I want to say that it's from all the water she's drinking... ? I've not smelled any weird odors coming from her.
-I have not heard any gurgling sounds
She may be laying internally or is having a hard time expelling the soft shelled eggs.
I would give her 1 Caltrate daily for 3-5 days.

Swelling of the abdomen could be fluid, does it feel like fluid/tight like a drum. Swelling could also be from internal laying, salpingitis, peritonitis, etc. Not all swelling is fluid.
Draining fluid can help give some relief/make them more comfortable.

Consider an antibiotic if the membranes of the eggs have been breaking before they are expelled. Egg material leaking into the oviduct can cause infection and make a bird feel unwell.

Re-check her crop first thing in the morning before she's had anything to eat/drink. If it's not empty, then read the article below to determine what course of treatment. https://www.backyardchickens.com/ar...w-to-know-which-one-youre-dealing-with.73607/
 

Grey Gables

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Dec 30, 2019
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Ohio
She may be laying internally or is having a hard time expelling the soft shelled eggs.
I would give her 1 Caltrate daily for 3-5 days.

Swelling of the abdomen could be fluid, does it feel like fluid/tight like a drum. Swelling could also be from internal laying, salpingitis, peritonitis, etc. Not all swelling is fluid.
Draining fluid can help give some relief/make them more comfortable.

Consider an antibiotic if the membranes of the eggs have been breaking before they are expelled. Egg material leaking into the oviduct can cause infection and make a bird feel unwell.

Re-check her crop first thing in the morning before she's had anything to eat/drink. If it's not empty, then read the article below to determine what course of treatment. https://www.backyardchickens.com/ar...w-to-know-which-one-youre-dealing-with.73607/
Thank you! This is super helpful.

If I give her caltrate this week and she doesn't worsen, would you guess she'd be "okay" for me to wait for my normal chicken vet to be back in town in a week? I know that's hard to weigh in on.... your info has me feeling like maybe there's a little hope. But, I'm not sure how dire her situation is. If her best hope is to get antibiotics in her system asap, I can look into another vet or MedVet this week.

Again -- THANK YOU!
 

Kiki

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Your bird is very sick.
Antibiotics may help but it may be too late for them.

When you say limited treats what exactly do you feed and how often?
 

Grey Gables

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Dec 30, 2019
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Your bird is very sick.
Antibiotics may help but it may be too late for them.

When you say limited treats what exactly do you feed and how often?
I've fed them watermelon, cucumber, blueberries, mealworms. I'd say they get a treat twice a week tops? And not much. I have four hens... so, if blueberries, just a handful; watermelon, maybe 2 slices; cucumber, 1 cucumber cut in half; mealworms, about a handful. They are mostly eating their layer feed and whatever grass/bugs they have access to.
 

Wyorp Rock

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Thank you! This is super helpful.

If I give her caltrate this week and she doesn't worsen, would you guess she'd be "okay" for me to wait for my normal chicken vet to be back in town in a week? I know that's hard to weigh in on.... your info has me feeling like maybe there's a little hope. But, I'm not sure how dire her situation is. If her best hope is to get antibiotics in her system asap, I can look into another vet or MedVet this week.

Again -- THANK YOU!
There's no way to know if she'd be ok or not.
It's really up to you whether to wait.
 

Grey Gables

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Dec 30, 2019
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Hi! Wanted to follow up with an update...

By Monday afternoon I felt like I had to do SOMETHING for her. None of the local vets could get her in, which left me with MedVet. MedVet is currently "code red" here, meaning they'll only see emergencies but they will check your pet's vitals at no cost to see if they are stable. So we took Ruby to MedVet Monday early evening, they checked her, she was considered stable. They said we could leave he there and she'd be "in line" for whenever a doctor was available. The estimated wait time was 8 hours. (No cost to leave her there at this point.) I agreed and went home, preparing for a call in the middle of the night, around 2 am. Didn't receive a call until Tuesday morning around 7:30 -- I guess they admitted a bunch of emergencies overnight, which bumped us in the queue. They estimated she'd be seen around 11:00 am that day.

Later in the afternoon I FINALLY receive a call. They believe she has yolk coelomitis. They recommended antibiotics to help with inflammation and a pain med. I had the option ($$$$$$) to keep her there overnight until a specialist could look at her on Wednesday, but I opted out of that due to cost, which was estimated $1400-1900 total, for emergency consult, subcutaneous fluids, both meds, and specialty consult. So bringing her home, I had to pay for the emergency consult, fluids and meds only. I picked her up Tuesday evening and started giving her the meds that night.

Wednesday morning, she definitely looked a littler perkier. She was making some noises and "talking" again, pacing the gate wanting to be let out. Her tail wasn't droopy. She explored the yard some with my other hens. Today (Thursday) I would say she's improved a little bit more... seeming more like her old self. I haven't been able to catch her to feel her "abdomen" since Tuesday evening. But visually it looks like the bloating has gone down.

For anyone wanting specifics on what medications she's on:
1.) Amoxicillin Trihydrate and Clavulanate Potassium 250mg (Per Tablet)
She is supposed to get a tablet every 8 hours (I believe they gave me 42 total)
**For sanity, I'm giving her the pill first thing in the morning, sometime in the middle of my day, and then again when I close them up before I go to bed, as following the 8 hour cadence would not be great for my sleep schedule...**

2.) Carprofen 25mg (Per Caplet)
She gets 1/2 pill every 12 hours (I believe I was given 5 tablets total)

I've had pretty good luck hiding the pills in blueberries, which she loves. They're the perfect pill pocket! I do have to cut the amoxicillin into quarters, as it's a rather large pill.

Will be following up with my regular chicken vet when she's back in town next week and will hopefully figure out a longterm plan for Ruby. Definitely concerned this may be a recurring issue. Appreciate the support/advice from you all.
 

Grey Gables

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Dec 30, 2019
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New update! I only add this info in case it helps someone else along the way, so I hope this is useful to someone.

I managed to get Ruby into my chicken vet this morning. She suspects that Ruby does NOT have yolk coelomitis/yolk peritonitis, but believes it to be fatty liver disease. Guessing it's hereditary in this case, as she is not at all overweight, has plenty of room, and gets fed a good diet. The vet could not feel any eggs inside of her. Her symptoms that line up with fatty liver disease: water belly, abnormal nail growth (her nails grow like crazy even though she's always scratching around), lethargy, and increased water consumption.

My vet said there has been recent research showing the amoxicillin prescribed to Ruby from MedVet isn't as helpful as once thought in chickens (but great for other animals). She said it might be helping some, but isn't necessarily the best med for a chicken. So I will be taking her off that I suppose. The vet says I can give her Doxy in some water. I've done some reading and it looks like flax seed and milk thistle may be helpful? My plan is to let Ruby do her thing. I'll do what I'm able to keep her healthy as long as possible. But when the time comes, when she starts to go downhill, I'll have to make a sad decision. Luckily, she is alert and perky, eating and drinking, so as for now, she is "okay."
 

Wyorp Rock

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New update! I only add this info in case it helps someone else along the way, so I hope this is useful to someone.

I managed to get Ruby into my chicken vet this morning. She suspects that Ruby does NOT have yolk coelomitis/yolk peritonitis, but believes it to be fatty liver disease. Guessing it's hereditary in this case, as she is not at all overweight, has plenty of room, and gets fed a good diet. The vet could not feel any eggs inside of her. Her symptoms that line up with fatty liver disease: water belly, abnormal nail growth (her nails grow like crazy even though she's always scratching around), lethargy, and increased water consumption.

My vet said there has been recent research showing the amoxicillin prescribed to Ruby from MedVet isn't as helpful as once thought in chickens (but great for other animals). She said it might be helping some, but isn't necessarily the best med for a chicken. So I will be taking her off that I suppose. The vet says I can give her Doxy in some water. I've done some reading and it looks like flax seed and milk thistle may be helpful? My plan is to let Ruby do her thing. I'll do what I'm able to keep her healthy as long as possible. But when the time comes, when she starts to go downhill, I'll have to make a sad decision. Luckily, she is alert and perky, eating and drinking, so as for now, she is "okay."
Thank you for the update.

I'm glad you were able to see your normal vet.
I'm sorry that the news is not that positive, but I think you are doing all you can for her.

I'm not that well versed on natural remedies, so it will be interesting to see if the flax see and milk thistle will help with liver function/fluid, etc. @coach723 administers a detox to birds that have fluid in the abdomen, I'm not sure it this would help or not - I have yet to try it myself. Here post about detox can be found here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...breath-if-you-hold-her.1284253/#post-20750855

@Hen Pen Jem is also another valuable resource on using more natural routes (not sure how to word it!) she may be able to give you some suggestions as well.
 

Grey Gables

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Dec 30, 2019
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Ohio
Thank you for the update.

I'm glad you were able to see your normal vet.
I'm sorry that the news is not that positive, but I think you are doing all you can for her.

I'm not that well versed on natural remedies, so it will be interesting to see if the flax see and milk thistle will help with liver function/fluid, etc. @coach723 administers a detox to birds that have fluid in the abdomen, I'm not sure it this would help or not - I have yet to try it myself. Here post about detox can be found here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...breath-if-you-hold-her.1284253/#post-20750855

@Hen Pen Jem is also another valuable resource on using more natural routes (not sure how to word it!) she may be able to give you some suggestions as well.
Oh gosh, thank you for sharing this. I am definitely going to be looking into all of this.

And happy to share any updates along the way if I have info worth sharing!
 

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