Proventricular Dilatation Disease in Birds

Proventricular Dilatation Disease

Birds are low-maintenance pets that many people enjoy taking care of. They are a wonderful addition to anyone’s household for their attractive appearance, jolly yet calming personality, and they simply make a good companion for everybody. Maybe you’ve recently taken in a pet bird to your home or are planning to. It will be interesting to learn some of the diseases that might affect birds. One of these diseases is the proventricular dilatation disease.

What is Proventricular Dilatation Disease?

There are a few anatomical things you should understand first to grasp the idea of the disease process fully. Birds have a different gastrointestinal system as compared to humans. They have a special body part called proventriculus. It serves as an expansion of the esophagus. It is between the crop and the gizzard, thus, connecting the esophagus to the gizzard. Moreover, the proventriculus serves as the bird’s first stomach. Some scientists refer to this part as the actual stomach.

Proventricular Dilatation Disease or PDD is a condition wherein the proventriculus becomes so distended. When this occurs, the passage of food becomes blocked. The bird’s ability to grind becomes impaired as well. These will all lead to the difficulty of the digestive muscles to digest the bird’s food. Therefore, impairing the bird’s capacity for acquiring nutrients and energy necessary for a healthy life. 

You may also hear others refer to Proventricular Dilatation Disease as neuropathic gastric dilatation, splanchnic neuropathy, or simply Wasting Disease. It is due to the effect of the disease on the birds. Later on, the birds infected with PDD would go on to show signs of cachexia or wasting. This is because of the body’s inability to digest. In effect, this also impairs the body from both extracting and absorbing nutrients from any food.

To know more about common health problems in birds, click this article Bird Health Problems – What You Need to Know About the Types, Treatments, Symptoms, and Prevention.

What causes Proventricular Dilatation Disease in birds?

Proventricular Dilatation Disease is a disease mainly caused by a family of viruses called Bornavirus. It can be seen in any psittacine bird. This includes macaws, cockatoos, parrots, and other similar birds. Infection with the virus causes the digestive system’s nerves to be inflamed, rendering it dysfunctional. Furthermore, it also affects the bird’s central and peripheral nervous systems, which will affect the bird’s ability to move.

In an experimental study, Bornavirus was isolated in most bird tissue affected by PDD. However, not all birds who contracted Bornavirus showed any signs or symptoms of PDD. Bornavirus affects up to 50 parrot species.

The incubation period of the virus remains unknown. Furthermore, the exact mode of transmission is still to be discovered. Thus, Disease remains relatively under-researched. There’s still a lot of information to be learned about the Disease.

What are the symptoms of Proventricular Dilatation Disease?

Symptoms of birds with PDD vary. However, the most common manifestations of the disease are intermittent regurgitation, diarrhea, abdominal distention. Most birds who have PDD would appear sick-looking all of a sudden. The most telling sign would be the presence of undigested seeds in the stool. It suggests the malfunction of the bird’s ability to grind food. 

Later on, in the course of the disease, some birds may exhibit signs of neurologic malfunction. This would show as bird’s inability to walk, paralysis of one or both legs, as well as focal seizures. 

Proventricular Dilatation Disease in Birds

How do you diagnose Proventricular Dilatation Disease?

Diagnosing your pet bird with PDD may be a little bit tricky. The symptoms are generally vague early in the course of the Disease. It may even mimic some diseases like diarrhea. Bornavirus causes PDD, and doctors can always test for it. However, some infected animals don’t necessarily go on to progress to having Proventricular Dilatation Disease. 

Firstly, extensive blood work, such as Complete Blood Count, is needed to make the right diagnosis. Second, an x-ray of your bird’s digestive system may be required to visualize the dilatation of the proventriculus. Other radiographic modalities such as CT or MRI with contrast may also be requested in a few cases.

Lastly, a biopsy or getting tissue samples. This remains as the gold standard diagnostic tool for PDD. Your veterinary surgeon would usually take a tissue sample from the crop. It is proven to be the easiest area to biopsy. Doctors will look for signs of inflammation and nerve damage in the tissue to confirm the diagnosis.

It’s also important to note that some infected birds may be asymptomatic or may not show any manifestations of the Disease. Thus, sometimes, incorrect diagnoses can be made. 

Always leave the diagnosis to the medical professionals

While it’s always best to be one step ahead, it’s still important to bring your pet bird to a veterinarian. Your doctor will provide your bird with the correct workup and laboratory tests necessary to make the right diagnosis. 

Isolate birds from others to avoid spreading the virus

This is most especially if your vet already made a definite diagnosis of PDD. Moreover, exposed birds should be quarantined for at least six months.

How do you treat Proventricular Dilatation Disease?

The disease is mainly viral, which limits the treatment strategy for Proventricular Dilatation Disease. Most of the treatment done in PDD is supportive. Thus, this includes supportive therapy and symptomatic treatment.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs improves the clinical course of infected birds. It includes drugs like Meloxicam and Celecoxib. These have shown to improve the chances of survival for birds. However, PDD remains to be a fatal disease.

Furthermore, according to studies, a soft diet improves the symptoms of PDD. Avoid giving hard, difficult to chew, and digest food. Some studies claim that probiotics may help improve the symptoms of PDD. You may incorporate some vitamins into your bird’s diet to help improve the absorption of nutrients.

Always be on the lookout for secondary digestive system problems that may arise. Note that these drugs do not necessarily reverse the Disease. They merely treat the symptoms, as well as prolong the life of birds infected. Vaccines against Bornavirus are not yet available at the moment.

How do you prevent Proventricular Dilatation Disease?

Prevention is always better than cure. Bornavirus transmits PDD. Thus, pet owners should use precautions to prevent possible contact of your bird with the virus. Furthermore, it is useful to check if your bird is prone to developing PDD. 

You might want to check your bird for some risk factors for PDD. These include dietary changes, and lack of food, parasite infestation, and other infectious diseases. 

Dietary changes such as a non-gradual transition from seeds to pellets might predispose your bird to develop PPD. Gradually switch the bird’s diet to help the digestive system adjust more easily. It will help prevent progression to Proventricular Dilatation Disease.

Products to prevent Proventricular Dilatation Disease

Moreover, constant lack of food or persistent hunger in birds may also put your bird at risk of developing Proventricular Dilatation Disease. Your bird’s digestive system is always working even without food. Thus, if the stomachs don’t have anything to digest, it may disrupt the system. If you find that you’re having trouble feeding your bird at the right time, you might want to try a No Mess Bird Feeder

A bird feeder will make food-dispensing easier for pet owners. It also makes the job less messy, thus, improving the conditions of your pet’s environment. 

Perhaps one of the few good things about PPD is that we already know what causes it. We must take precautions in preventing its spread since a virus causes Proventricular Dilatation Disease. 

The exact mode of transmission of the virus remains unknown at the moment. However, there are a few things bird owners can do to prevent infection. If you want to know how you can actively prevent your bird from contracting the virus, here are some tips. 

One of the easy ways to do so is always to maintain your bird in a clean environment. A bird cage cleaner will be most helpful in making sure the cage is clean, germ-free, and safe for your bird. It’s essential to regularly clean the birdcage to get rid of droppings, dried up food, feathers, etc.

Furthermore, using special tools to help you clean the cage and feeders such as cleaning brushes is also essential. Don’t forget to clean up even the nooks and crannies of the birdcage where small droppings and dirt could be hiding. 

The virus is an unstable virus that is susceptible to heat, drying, and other disinfecting chemicals. Thus, it is not too difficult to prevent it from brewing in your bird’s cage. Proper hygiene is always the best precaution when it comes to any infectious disease. 

Wrap Up

If you aren’t familiar with the Disease, it might be overwhelming to hear about Proventricular Dilatation Disease in birds. Hopefully, with all this information, you will be able to prevent and easily spot PPD in your pet bird and prevent it from reaching your bird. If you have more concerns, do not hesitate to coordinate with your bird’s veterinarian. Your vet will surely provide you with all the necessary information with regards to your bird’s plan of care and other important details. 

To know more about common health problems in birds, click this article Bird Health Problems – What You Need to Know About the Types, Treatments, Symptoms, and Prevention.