Water belly

TJAnonymous

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
Feb 29, 2020
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Central Arkansas
Yesterday it was pouring rain so I flipped on the television. There was a reality TV show on called The Incredible Dr Pol. The show is based around his veterinary practice in Michigan. I couldn't find the remote to change the channel so I just left it on.

Anyway, there was a lady who brought her RIR into the vet. She indicated that the hen was lethargic and walking funny. I thought maybe she was egg bound but Dr Pol immediately said she had water belly. I've never heard of it. Had my full attention.... He indicated that water belly causes a chicken's abdominal cavity to fill with fluid. They eventually become so full that they cannot eat and starve to death.

Has anyone ever heard of this or had a chicken with water belly? I did a search on BYC but came up with nothing. Dr Pol popped a drain tub in the hen to drain the fluid. She continued to drain for 20 minutes... He seemed to insinuate that there is no cure for water belly and that the hen will eventually die from complications of this disease.

I've googled this illness but I still wondered if anyone has actually experienced this?
 

TJAnonymous

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Feb 29, 2020
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I had a RIR that died recently. I assumed it was natural causes because she wasn't egg bound and I'm pretty sure she was old (I adopted her so no idea on her age.). But she felt heavy. Her crop was empty but she felt like she weighed 10 lbs. Maybe more... We cremated her but after watching that episode, I now wonder if maybe she had this illness and I didn't know?

How did you know that your hen had it?
 

JensHens1987

Chirping
Aug 20, 2019
37
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89
Wow- wish I would have found your post sooner! My 2 year old RIR developed a rash on her belly in the winter. I took her to the vet a few months ago when it looked worse. I was given cream for allergies as she had lost belly feathers. Her vent area became really red and swollen and today she became lethargic with a purplish comb. I was so fixated on the “allergy rash” that I had overlooked water belly! After research today I decided to tap her belly- 20 g needle and 3 cc syringe were all we had but got 1.5 cups off. She is still sick but was standing, ate and drank. I know the outcome is terminal but if I can get some more time out of her being comfortable I’m going to- overall, the tapping procedure was easy. She is still swollen so going to try and take off more tomorrow- just like humans, chickens can go into shock if too much fluid is removed from a paracentesis.
 

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TJAnonymous

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
Feb 29, 2020
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Central Arkansas
Sharing a video on how to drain water belly.... For people who are interested.

I remember Dr. Pol also gave the chicken an antibiotic but I can't remember what it was.

 

JensHens1987

Chirping
Aug 20, 2019
37
59
89
I drained another 60 cc’s today but the output was cloudy with sediment- so I now believe my chicken has egg yolk peritonitis and not heart failure. Either way, a poor outcome. She had a plate of tuna tonight and is resting comfortably. I am going to look into antibiotic administration tonight but am leaning towards something more dignified- tomorrow may call for another plate of tuna and peace.
 

RubyNala97

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 9, 2015
4,627
1,068
361
Hudson Valley, NY
I had a RIR that died recently. I assumed it was natural causes because she wasn't egg bound and I'm pretty sure she was old (I adopted her so no idea on her age.). But she felt heavy. Her crop was empty but she felt like she weighed 10 lbs. Maybe more... We cremated her but after watching that episode, I now wonder if maybe she had this illness and I didn't know?

How did you know that your hen had it?
I have one that feels the same way. I’ve noticed in the last couple weeks when I picked her up she felt really solid. I picked her up last night and she felt the same, like she weighed ten pounds. I’m searching for info on water belly now.
 

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