Wheezing, Coughing? Nothing seems to work

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by coryjp75, Sep 15, 2009.

  1. coryjp75

    coryjp75 Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 12, 2009
    My Buckeye hen is making a wheezing sound followed by a cough(?) She seems to be eating and drinking normally. These symptoms have been coming and going for a week and a half at the time of this video: . I have tried Duramycin in the water for a week, one recent treatment of deworming juice just in case, and Oxine fogged in her face.

    What is wrong with her? What can I do?
  2. garngang

    garngang Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 12, 2009
    North Central Arkansas
    I'm wondering about this too. Today when I got home I went out to see the chickens like always and one of my roosters made this same noise. Only for a minute and then he stopped. This is the first time i had heard this noise so I was kinda concerned. My boyfriend says I'm worrying for nothing but I have read on here about respritory problems and how they can be serious. Is this something go actually worry about???
  3. obe10

    obe10 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 14, 2009
    Irmo, South Carolina
    could she have aspirated? this happens when they are drinking water, it goes down the wrong way or something... and it gets into their lungs. that would explain the opening and closing of her mouth.
  4. coryjp75

    coryjp75 Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 12, 2009

    I hope it's that simple. However, she has been doing this off and on for a week and a half. When she does show these symptoms it lasts all day.
    Hopefully, I can keep her alive until I scrounge up enough money to take her to the vet.
  5. coryjp75

    coryjp75 Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 12, 2009
    I took her to the vet. After all of the preliminary questions about living conditions and symptoms the vet observed her behavior. She had pneumonia. The vet wanted to make her more confortable and able to breath while dosing her with an antibiotic. However, after the vet gave her some Dexamethasone (steroid) orally she started seizuring. After about four spasms she faded fast.
  6. froggie71

    froggie71 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 18, 2009
    Shamong, NJ
    Oh no, that's awful. I'm so sorry. [​IMG] We have a guinea keet that was wheezing and had some discharge from her beak and was breathing with beak open at all times. I've been giving her terramycin in her water as we did with a duck we had with wheezing in the fall. The wheeze has subsided and so has the discharge. She is breathing much easier and just has an occasional sneeze. So she is definitely improving.
    Was this an avian vet you took your hen to?
  7. threehorses

    threehorses Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 20, 2009
    I'm very sorry to hear about your loss. Although it's too late to save her, there's some information that maybe you or others reading this post can use.

    First, when you use Duramycin, be sure to use the right amount and for no less than 10 days. It has to be the only water, and there can be NO milk products (milk, yogurt) used at the same time. Nor tums or other calcium supplementation other than the usual oyster shell and laying feed.

    Treating with antibiotics alone is usually ineffective because often respiratory illnesses are about more than bacteria. And then antibiotics may treat an upper respiratory infection (like Duramycin does - sometimes) while leaving a lower respiratory infection (Pneumonia) untreated.

    It's important when there is a respiratory illness to try to determine exactly where ALL sounds of respiratory distress are coming from and treat accordingly. For lower respiratory, penicillin in conjunction with an antibiotic that can be used at the same time is the way to go. You also want to treat with vitamin therapy, cleaning the nares, etc, and probiotics to prevent secondary issues. I'll include an article below that maybe will help people attack respiratory treatments with a little more gusto and less frustration.

    Respiratory infections in birds are VERY difficult to find and treat. So please don't feel too bad. First, birds are adept at masking symptoms. And then when you do see symptoms, we don't really know if there's something viral, environmental, bacterial - and if bacterial WHICH bacteria as antibiotics aren't all-killing. They're very specific. That's why I like the from-all-directions approach to try to hedge all the bets I can.

    In the mean time, if you ever have a vet in the future that decides to use steroids, please decline unless the vet is a certified avian vet. Steroids should only be used in birds in very very very limited situations. And then you still may lose them, even if steroids really are called for. So it could be that your vet made the right call (antibiotics wouldn't have eased the breathing that quickly on a bird - steroids might have) and still faced the unfortunate effects of a very ill bird just not making it.

    Thank you for trying, and especially for taking your bird to the vet. You definitely did the right thing. I'm very sorry to hear about the loss, however. Please give the others in your flock extra vitamins this week (water vitamins are fine, polyvisol or fed vitamins are better in a nice mash) and boost their immunity. Now would be a good time to pick them all up and check their condition, particularly as it's a molt time of year when immunities sink.

    If you should have any future respiratory problems, I hope the following article might help a bit.

    Take care.



    When treating a respiratory illness in my chickens, no matter what the cause (fungal, environmental, bacteria, viral) I like to attack the problem from multiple angles at once: Medicinal, nutritional, environmental, and through supportive products.

    Medicinal: This should be handled on an individual basis for each situation. The one bit of advice I would give is that if you DO treat for bacterial illness with antibiotics, be sure to use the correct antibiotic, the strongest you can get for that problem, for the full dosage and full duration. Never let them "sip", give for a short period, or give partial dosages. And leave Baytril as a last resort.

    To help tackle a respiratory illness, I keep in mind that the body needs fuel to do its job. Not only is the bird still having to nourish itself to survive, but there's the extra stress of providing materials to fight the intruder - the pathogen causing the illness. There are certain nutrients that boost the immune system and increase healing for respiratory illnesses and I like to take full advantage of them. Anything that I can do to boost the chicken's immune system, I will do.

    Vitamin A (and its precursor beta-carotene) is one of the weapons in my arsenal against respiratory illness. Vitamin A is a most important vitamin for ocular, mucus membrane, and respiratory health. It is so important to the chicken that a lack of sufficient vitamin A in the diet can actually CAUSE respiratory illness. So it's one of the first nutrients I make sure to supplement to an ill bird.

    If the bird doesn't have caseous nodules (yellow-whitish pimples) in the inside of its eyelids, mouth, throat, etc, you can simply treat with a more broad spectrum oil type vitamin liquid. Because vitamin A is an oil vitamin, I feel that using oil or liquid/oil sources is more effective than dried sources. So I prefer a vitamin like PolyViSol baby vitamins (Enfamil brand) used in the individual bird's beak daily. Don't buy the iron-fortified, but the non-iron-fortified. You can find it in the vitamin section of many stores, including Walmart. For a chick, it's 1 drop in the beak for 7 days and then taper off. For a young or medium bird, 2 drops. For a larger bird, 3 drops.

    If I'm treating a flock, I prefer to use fortified wheat germ oil, or cod liver oil, in a quickly eaten damp mash that I prepare for the birds daily. For the cod liver oil, depending on which kind you use you can use a very small amount in some crumbles that you will put on top of their feed or use it in a quickly eaten damp mash. For wheat germ oil, I mix a capful into a cup of feed and stir well. I think stir this into a half gallon of feed and give that three times a week on top of their other feed.

    This takes care of A vitamins quite nicely.

    The benefit of the polyvisol is that it also contains other vitamins helpful to the bird.


    In all cases of illness or stress, I provide probiotics to my birds but particularly for respiratory illnesses. Probiotics are non-medicinal sources of living bacteria used to replenish the beneficial bacteria present in the avian digestive system. Good bacteria live in and 'colonize' the digestive tract, helping the bird to digest their foods, and additionally competing with bad bacteria/fungi for the digestive tract. Having a strong supply of beneficial bacteria not only keeps a flock more thrifty and vigorous, but will increase their resistance to digestive disease.

    If you're not using a medicine whose active ingredients end in -cycline or -mycin (read the label), then you can use plain unflavored yogurt. Most yogurts in the US contain a source of living bacteria, Lactobacilli. (Make sure and read the label for "contains live cultures".) Lactobacillus acidophilus will colonize the gut of the chicken. Use 1 teaspoon per 6 chicks to 1 tablespoon per large adult fowl as a guiding dosage. It doesn't have to be exact, but you don't want to give something as great as a cup to birds. Although birds are normally less able to digest as many milk products as humans and mammals, yogurt contains less lactose and so is less upsetting to their system within reasonable use. The live bacteria as well as its D vitamin fortification and protein make it an inexpensive and worthy probiotic.

    If you ARE using a -mycin of -cycline drug, then substitute with acidophilis capsules/tablets (the contents thereof), or with a prepared live probiotic for livestock such as Probios brand dispersible powder. The powders are often easier to sneak into treats to give to birds.

    No probiotics should be given in the water, despite labeling. They're best given in a small amount of quickly eaten damp feed. Yogurt can be mixed with water, and then that mixture mixed with a few crumbled pellets of the bird's normal diet and that fed first thing in the morning. removing the feed 20 minutes before giving the healthful damp mash ensures that they're more interested in it. You can also hide other healthful ingredients in the same mash.

    The reason this is so important for respiratory birds, even if not medicated, is that the ocular and nasal sinuses drain into the digestive tract through the opening in the roof of the bird's beak. The drainage can upset the bacterial flora of the gut and cause it to be reduced which leaves the bird more vulnerable to diarrhea and digestive secondary illnesses like yeast/fungus, and pathogenic bacteria.

    As ill birds are often reluctant to eat, sometimes I like to use boiled/mashed eggs as part of a daily damp mash to tempt them to at least eat the nutritional supplements I'm trying to give them daily. The extra protein helps birds who are healing to have a little more fuel.

    VetRx is an herbal based oil that is non-medicinal but very helpful to birds being treated for respiratory illness. The purpose of VetRx is to facilitate air flow through the sinuses of the bird, reduce mucus, and possibly reduce inflammation. If VetRx for poultry cannot be found, any other of the "species" of vetrx (rabbit, cagedbird, etc) can be used the same. If that cannot be found, Marshal Pet Peter Rabbit Rx is the same and can be found at many big-chain pet stores.

    VetRx is best used to swab the upper respiratory area. Mix a few drops of very hot water and a few drops of VetRx in a cup. Stir well to cool the water while emulsifying the oil into the water. Use q-tips to apply to the bird: a new q-tip end for each individual spot, an absolutely new q-tip per each bird. The q-tip can be quite damp for all applications. Swab the nostrils (nares) well, press a q-tip into the cleft opening in the roof of the beak of the bird. Pressing gently there can sometimes cause the VetRx to bubble into the eye, which is acceptable. It's not necessary but a benefit. Use either some very dilute VetRx one drop in each eye or (my preference) simply swab near each tear duct. The box recommends using in the water so that when the birds drink, they treat their own beaks as the oil floats on top. This is an option; I rarely follow it as sometimes I use the water to give other things. You can, however, use it wherever the bird wipes their eyes on their feathers, or where they lay their head when they sleep.

    A bird that can't breathe will not eat; A bird that will not eat will not heal. Bacteria generally hate oxygen, so we want air flowing all through the sinuses.

    SUPPORTIVE PRODUCTS/OACV: If you're not medicating in the water, and if your birds have a lot of mucus in their throats (gurgling, coughing, etc) the you can use organic apple cider vinegar in their water during illness to help reduce mucus and help support digestive health. The dosage is always 1 teaspoon of OACV to one gallon of water. The reason for using the organic is that it's unfiltered and still contains some of the prebiotics and lactobacilli that will act in concert with your yogurt to promote digestive tract health. The pH of this solution will also correct the pH of the digestive tract (which, remember, is being bombarded by nasal secretions) so that it's more friendly for good bacteria, and UNfriendly for opportunistic fungus and bacteria. A correct pH facilitates good nutrient absorbtion and we do want our ill birds to get everything they can from their food. The reason for using organic is not philosophical, but because of its mode of manufacture; there's still some good left in it.

    All birds, because of their specialized respiratory system, are highly dependent on superior air quality and ventilation. Birds who have reduced breathing ability in respiratory illness are particularly dependent on good air. They should be kept as all birds are: in well ventilated but not drafty conditions with few fumes or odors in the air, in a non-dusty bedding. This is particularly true if you cannot rule out an environmental cause for illness (ammonia, mildew spores in the air, etc).

    When you have multiple birds, the sick bird/flock should always be cared for after all the other chores are done. You want to reduce all changes of infecting other birds, or even challenging possibly exposed birds who aren't showing symptoms (yet). Isolate sick birds unless you intend to treat the flock. Then it really does help to isolate the sick birds so that they don't have to compete for feed. Keep something like overalls or a big man's shirt in the 'sick area' and put it on before handling the birds, taking it off before leaving the coop. Keep anti-bacterial gel in that area to wipe your hands as you leave so that you don't contaminate the doorknobs of your house. Of course, wash thoroughly when all chores are done. Be sure to disinfect all the feeders and waterers more often as the droplets of their respiratory exudates will be on feeders and waterers. If you have family or friends over, try to keep only one person handlng the sick flock and ask everyone never to go from the sick flock to the well.

    I hope that these suggestions will help you when it comes time to treat your flock for respiratory illness. All suggestions have been used by me personally on everything from slight cases to extreme cases. They work well for me, and I hope that they will help you to bring your flock back to full health.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my article and consider my suggestions.

    Nathalie Ross
    (Please do not reproduce without permission of the author. The author is not a veterinarian and always recommends a good qualified avian vet attend your ill birds first. No information is intended to supercede that of a qualified veterinarian.)
    August 1, 2009

    Here's the actual dosage math for Duramycin 10 at 10g per 6.4 ounce package.

    OK according to this package, they want you to dose at about 500mg - 800mg per gallon of water for chickens. (http://www.durvet.com/L/119_L.pdf )
    The package states that the dosage will depend on the age of the bird (chicks get weaker strength), and how much they'll drink (birds that drink a lot get a little weaker strength).

    10g = 10,000 mg. There are 10 grams in the package at 6.4 ounces.

    Adults: 10,000 mg divided by 800mg = 12 doses per package.
    12 doses = 6.4 ounces.
    6.4 ounces/12 servings = 0.54 ounce per serving.
    We'll say 1/2 ounce per serving.

    1/2 ounce = 3 teaspoons (kitchen measure spoon)

    Babies: 10,000mg/800mg = 20 doses per package.
    6.4 ounces/20 servings = 0.32 ounce per serving.
    0.32 ounces = 2 teaspoons (kitchen measuring spoon).

    Use either the two or the three teaspoons per gallon as the sole drinking ration for 7-14 days depending on whether your bird is a young bird (under two months) or older. Make fresh solution daily. Because this is a 'cycline' you can't use yogurt with it, but because of his illness and length of treatment periodyou really need to use a probiotic to prevent secondary yeast/fungal infections and/or diarrhea.

    With a ‘cycline/’mycin drug, that means you'll want to either use acidophilis capsules or tablets from the grocer or druggist vitamin section, or a health food store – or – use Probios brand probiotic powder (found in the livestock section of feed stores/TSC).

    The bird absolutely must receive the full dosage of this - either the 2 or 3 teaspoons in the gallon (and of course, you can break than down into 1/2 teaspoon per 32 ounce watering device. He must also receive the entire treatment period – not a day less or you risk creating future treatment issues and drug resistance. Unfortunately, giving “a little bit by mouth” doesn’t work with antibiotics especially if they are allowed normal drinking water. And you cannot mix anything at all with the medicated water; use supplements in the feed. That's the only way that the dosage will work.
    Last edited by threehorses (August 24, 2009)
    1 person likes this.
  8. coryjp75

    coryjp75 Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 12, 2009
    Thank you so much for sharing this excellent information.

    I can't help but feel that my hen would have been better off if I had not taken her to the vet. But hindsight is always 20/20 and I had no way of knowing that steroids would have caused seizures. The vet claimed that this indicated that she was too far along with the illness and that the stress hastened her demise. It's very upsetting to lose my only Buckeye hen. Now I'm worred about the rest of the flock. Does this mean they all have the illness, perhaps dormant in their system?
  9. threehorses

    threehorses Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 20, 2009
    Quote:It's possible, but it's always possible and honestly worrying about it too much (as hard as it is not to do) will just wear you out. So better to be proactive about it and just meet it head on and see if you see signs, reasonable signs, and as soon as you do, work on how you want to handle treating.

    In the mean time, that's where immune building comes in. Vitamin A supplementation (light) is a good idea as vitamin A is the most likely vitamin to degrade from foods as it degrades easily in light and heat. If you have a risk of respiratory illness, giving an oil based A, D, E vitamin supplement or A, D like 'fortified' wheat germ oil, or cod liver oil - and spraying on the feed twice weekly will help boost respiratory healing and immunity.

    If you choose the fortified wheat germ oil (A, D, E) then you get the benefit of the E vitamin for immune and anti-oxidant activity.

    Because these are oil vitamins, you don't want to add much more than just twice a week spraying on the feed. More isn't necessarily better, and spraying on top is enough basically withina good safe range. I just use a garden type sprayer, a little hand-held cosmetic one (as they're smaller) to spray on top of the feed after I've poured it in. That way the first eating gets the vitamin while it's fresh and before it degrades.

    Also just the usual - make sure the birds get a lot of fresh air and sunshine, that they're clean, have a lot of space, the usual quarantines for new birds (30 days), etc etc. And of course picking them up and becoming familiar with their individual bodies, weights, etc.

    Again I'm so sorry you lost your bird - but please remember you did more than the average person would and took her in to a vet. Thank you for going the extra steps. Pneumonia for a bird is usually a very difficult issue especially if it's been around a couple of days, and you're not psychic, and you're not a vet, and you're not expected to know things like this without having experienced it before. So lots of hugs to you.
  10. Maryallison

    Maryallison Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2008
    Fountain, Florida
    Very sorry to hear about you loss. I have dealt with the respiratory problems and the chickens can be saved, it is lots of work, but listen to threehorses....I did and it saved some of my chicks. [​IMG]

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