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Plucking collar/spray??

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goose001
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Plucking collar/spray??

Post by goose001 » Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:44 am

Hi all, not sure if this is the right area of the forum for this... but my 3.5 yr old female IRN started plucking at the beginning of this summer. I took her to my avian vet and had full blood profile and fecal testing done to rule out any medical problems. Everything came back normal. I have tried more toys, less toys, rotating toys, making her forage for her food, made her a huge play stand out of pvc, and nothing seems to help... for a while I had her interesting in shredding blocks of balsa but now she is not interested in doing anything and prefers to sit on the cage and overpreen/pluck.. she rips out the feathers that try to grow in and then twirls them around in her beak for a while. Her legs are completely bald and the chest and back are very bare as well. She takes her own bath in a bowl 2-3 times a week and I take her in the shower or mist her with warm water for the other days. She is very attached to me but lately she even plucks if I hold her on my shoulder...

Her diet is Healthy Select Natural Conure Diet seed mix (no preservatives/colorings), Zupreem avian entrees garden variety pellet for small birds, and she gets some combination of fresh fruit/veg every morning. A couple times a week she gets oatmeal or brown rice/pasta mixed with cooked vegs..

I can't think of anything else to do with her and she is still plucking and its breaking my heart :( I was wondering if anyone knows of any bird-safe sprays that would be soothing to her skin or make her pluck less??? And also, if anyone has had any success with collaring a plucker for some time maybe so that they can "forget" the habit and let feathers come back in. I am trying to find a place to purchase a collar but have had no luck so far. Thanks in advance if anyone has any suggestions...

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ranechild
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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by ranechild » Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:11 pm

I don't have much advice, but I've heard a full spectrum light can help improve birdie's mood.

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JoeysMom
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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by JoeysMom » Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:29 pm

Thankfully my IRN, Joey is not a plucker (knock on wood). But my Quaker, Sammy is. Sam has been plucking since November 16, 2009. It just started one day and has never stopped, but it has lessened. Sam's plucking is due to medical reasons. He has heart disease, and was probably born with it. We discovered this with an x-ray (surprisingly his tests come back normal). Overtime the heart grew larger and bothered him enough that he began plucking. Sam wore a full collar for a while, and now wears just a partial. I have only heard of getting these from a vet. I have seen some birds that do well with wearing a knitted sock, or special made birdie vest. Sam's vet had also prescribed Sam a solution to put in his bath water to sooth his plucked areas (Sam will pluck the feather, and then pluck at the skin). Sam also takes an oil supplement called Opt-Omega. This is supposed to help feathers grow in healthier, but it actually seemed to help Sam limit the plucking area (he started on the chest, and then progressed all over). Now he just plucks a small area of his chest. In addition to this he takes heart medicine.

I also switched Sam over to an organic diet. He also twirls his feathers in his beak, and something else, which is gross and I won't get into it. I know I am talking about a Quaker here, but this is my only (hopefully) experience with plucking. Hopefully this may help you some. I know it is heartbreaking, and I wish you the best of luck.

-Joeys Mom
-Joey's Mom

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Doodlebug
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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by Doodlebug » Tue Aug 13, 2013 1:31 pm

Hi there, sorry to hear your IRN is plucking, my first bird went through this too and it worries you sick.

It's so difficult to get to the bottom of why this happens and you sound like you've tried so many things. I guess it's kind of like why some people start pulling their hair out etc, some sort of psychological thing if mites and other medical causes have been ruled out.

All I know is that when one feather is plucked it can then irritate the surrounding area making the bird want to pluck another. My vet did give me a spray that soothed, I wish I could remember its name. Good luck and I hope you find resolution to your problem soon, Loo.
Loo :)

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ranechild
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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by ranechild » Tue Aug 13, 2013 2:04 pm

come to think of it... over on the quaker forum I've heard of adding aloe to bathwater to help soothe the irritation.
I've also heard of giving camomile tea (no sugar, straight camomile with no actual tes in it) to mellow birdies out and curb anxiety... come to think of it, I think I'm going to go have a cup now. mmmm.

MissK
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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by MissK » Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:07 pm

Hi. Let me first state that I have NO EXPERIENCE with plucking and little concept of what really truly lies at the heart of fixing it (along with everybody else). However, my gut tells me that if I were facing a bird in your bird's situation I would absolutely make it wear a protective vest. I would do whatever I had to in order to fabricate such an item. If I could, I would try to fit a little bit of rough wood onto the front of the vest. I would hope the plucking urge would lead the bird to pick at the wood (something very soft and easy to shred) and pray that a wood-shredding habit would emerge. At the same time I would provide as attractive as possible a preening toy, in hopes the bird would pull at someone else's feathers instead. It is one of my most sincere hopes that I will never have opportunity to try this theory out.

I think you should put up a nice feather preening toy right now, and put an E-collar on the bird today. If you think you can make a vest, nothing to lose by trying it.

I wish you the very best luck.
-MissK
-MissK

goose001
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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by goose001 » Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:51 pm

Hi, thank you all so much for your replies and suggestions. I really do appreciate it.. I am so frustrated now, she had a lot of nice pin feathers coming in her back above the tail and tonight I checked her before she went to bed and noticed that all of them have been pulled out :( I am definitely going to get a collar for her, and I might attempt to make her one of those sock vests. She has so much stuff to keep her busy, but still I hear her throughout the day yelling as she rips feathers out..

I will also get the opt omega oil and try a bit of chamomile with her.. I am really willing to try anything, I feel so bad for her. I have her since she was 7 wks old and really want to help her. Has anyone heard of topically applying organic coconut oil for soothing benefits?? I almost bought this spray at petco called 8 in 1 cease anti-feather picking, but wasn't sure if all of the ingredients were safe for her and didn't want to do more harm than good. Again thank you all so much. Hopefully I can use some of these ideas to decrease her plucking.

MissK
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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by MissK » Tue Aug 13, 2013 9:20 pm

It's at times like these that I really, really wish pet psychics could help.
:(

Wish you the best.
-MissK
-MissK

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Skyes_crew
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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by Skyes_crew » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:40 pm

Several of my friends have macaws that are pluckers. They have had some success with using kukui nut oil on the birds skin. In humans it is used for eczema. It is all natural and non toxic. I'm not sure if you can get it in stores by you but if you go to oilsofaloha.com you can order direct from there. Most of those 8 in 1 sprays are a mixture of botanical oils made to sooth skin. But sometimes it's overkill. Especially since they usually add fragrance which can backfire and make the skin more appealing. If you can, make a list of the ingredients and try the oils one at a time instead. I agree with the chamomile, and if your bird won't drink it, add a tiny bit of 100% natural fruit juice.

Sometimes plucking can be associated with diet. What we perceive as a healthy diet may not work for them so well. Talk to your AV about an exclusion diet to test for allergies to foods. In the meantime, do a little research on your foods. Try to find one that does not list corn as the first ingredient. For the pasta, try a gluten free whole wheat pasta. For the fruits and veggies, choose low sugar fruits such as cranberries and blackberries and low starch vegetables. Stick to the dark greens such as kale, broccoli, dill, parsley, green peppers, and spinach. Also I'm not sure how much unobstructed sunlight she gets everyday, but a good 30 minutes in a travel cage in the sun will help too.

Plucking is so nerve wracking for a parront. We want what's best for our birds and no matter what we do something along the way still goes wrong. But she needs you to be strong for her because regardless of her feather condition, her love and affection stays the same for you. Keep up the great work!! And always remind yourself daily that you are doing everything you can to make her comfortable. I wish you both the best of luck :)
I am owned by my birds...and I wouldn't have it any other way :D

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InTheAir
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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by InTheAir » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:43 pm

So sorry to hear you are going through this.
I also have no experience in this matter.


Our av is a huge advocate of foraging to prevent picking from boredom, so keep trying. I guess the more time she spends hunting for food will mean she spends a bit less time to pluck..
I like the vest idea, it would allow her greater normality than a collar. It might even look cute, too.

Another member on here has an irn that plucks too. Hopefully, she may have some advice too.

I don't know if you have read any of Pamela Clarks articles, http://www.pamelaclarkonline.com/. You might find something useful from there.

Goodluck!

Regards,
Claire

MissK
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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by MissK » Wed Aug 14, 2013 2:28 am

Not exactly the same thing, BUT..... a review of one type of skin soothing spray:

It happens that I am right now fighting some horrendous skin irritation, myself. On Monday evening I surprised a nest of yellow jackets - actually, they surprised me too. Five times. I handled the pain well, the swelling mostly well. But this itch is driving me crazy! Just now the dog woke me, and I have little expectation I'll get back to sleep any time soon.

Having already gone through the usual human remedies in the last 32 hours, desperate and mindful of your situation, I guinea pigged myself for research and applied some "earthbath totally natural pet care hot spot & itch relief plus skin and coat conditioners". I borrowed this from my dog. The first test site has possibly eased up a little, while the second test site is producing a tingly almost tickle feeling. I am sufficiently encouraged to apply it to the most troublesome site (my ear) as it could hardly get worse and nothing bad happened to me from it yet. Directions say to wet skin and massage it in. I just wet the skin.

This product contains: "de-ionized water, natural conditioners, colloidal oatmeal, aloe vera, vitamin E, tea tree oil (melaleuca)", and claims "all ingredients are natural, gentle, and 100% biodegradable". There is a caution not to use it on cats, it says because "cats will lick it off, rendering it useless". There is a caution to "Avoid contact with eyes. Keep out of reach of children. If swallowed, consult a physician." I DON'T KNOW if any of the ingredients are bad for birds, and I suspect it is the tea tree oil doing most of the soothing upon initial contact, or maybe the aloe. I DO know we must be careful when working with oils as they can be quite potent, and not always in a good way.

I put the stuff on my ear when I typed that I was encouraged above. Since then the unbearable burning and itching has eased into a vague "there's something going on with my ear" feeling. Is it working, or is it influenced by my brain? It's probably working, since I didn't have a lot of faith in this when I put it on the dog, and she didn't seem impressed at the time.

My conclusion: The initial application of this product was highly noticeable (physical tickle sensation, textured wetness, aroma) and thus might actually increase attention to the area temporarily. Near immediate reduction of original complaint sensation was enjoyed. Benefit continued after product dried on skin, and tickle sensation faded. Use on humans following wasp sting is tentatively recommended.

What I think it means for your bird is that you might first check safety of using pure aloe and try that. I rather doubt anyone has tested tea tree oil on birds, but maybe you can look into it. It does have a "red flag" in that the aroma is strong. I would NOT suggest you use the product I used because it contains unspecified "natural conditioners" that cannot be verified as bird safe.

This was a *fantastic* experiment. I'm going back to bed.
-MissK
-MissK

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ranechild
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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by ranechild » Wed Aug 14, 2013 7:31 am

For you Miss K, I recommend lavendar oil mixed with baking soda and honey. Mix into a polstice. Also, use Biofreeze when you can't sleep. I got stung by a yellow jacket twice...it had crawled into my bed so the place it stung me was not pleasant. It's gonna itch for weeks. But that solution is for humans, not for birdies.

pure aloe on a bird should be ok. I would think especially if you break a piece off an actual aloe plant to do it. I am by no means an expert however.

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ranechild
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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by ranechild » Wed Aug 14, 2013 7:32 am

BTW, you now have me a little bit worried. We have noticed Fats preening and letting out little shreaks like he just pulled out a feather. maybe it's time to go buy popsicle sticks in bulk.

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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by Melika » Tue Aug 20, 2013 3:41 pm

"ALOE FOR FEATHER DESTRUCTION -- A popular use of Aloe vera is a topical spray to soothe the irritated skin of birds that engage in feather plucking. Dramatic results can be obtained with this protocol when used on parrots that destroy their feathers due to itchy skin. Even in cases of psychological plucking, aloe spray can slow down feather destruction because damp feathers seem to discourage plucking. Feeding our birds Aloe vera also can help to prevent feather destruction. Its effectiveness is due mainly to magnesium lactate, a chemical known to inhibit the release of histamines responsible for skin irritation and itching. I use George's Aloe Spray but one can use a clean, new pump spray bottle filled with steam-distilled aloe. Distilled aloe contains no additives. Research indicates that steam distillation destroys the mucopolysaccharides which are considered to be the main active ingredient of Aloe vera, useful when it is taken internally. However, when used as a spray, the steam-distilled Aloe vera seems to be just as effective." http://www.landofvos.com/articles/wingtips/aloe.html

You actually sometimes need to be careful about using aloe straight from the plant. If it feels 'gunky' on the feathers the bird might pluck at it more to get 'clean'. Aloe from the plant would more likely be used directly on skin.

http://www.landofvos.com/articles/feathers.html
http://www.landofvos.com/articles/kitchen5.html


I wish Hane loved spray baths. The only time he likes getting wet is bathing in his water dish or being out in the rain. I can use the hose if I'm far enough away and direct the water up so it 'rains'. But now he's flighted and I don't take him outside. He hates the sound of the bottle, I believe.

Hane is a plucker too. He doesn't look like the picture in my signature anymore. He he has made progress. Sometimes it's one step forward and seemingly two steps back but in the long run there has been improvement. I've taken to feeding him after dark the last few months (after he goes to sleep) so in the morning he has food ready to find/forage. Obviously not fresh foods at that time, but something to keep his beak busy. He also likes destroying/grinding his Totally Organics pellets. I save the powder to make back into birdie bread lol. I don't give him attention when he plucks a feather- I don't want to unintentionally reward that behavior, but if I see him going for a feather I might clap my hands or stand up to distract him. He has recently taken more to peeling/gnawing the bark on his bottlebrush stand, which again keeps his beak occupied. He doesn't care much for rope preening but loves untying knots in leather. It takes time to figure out what keeps them busy, but it sure helps when you can figure some of them out!

I'm leaving him flighted for now, just in case the cut wings could irritate his sides and keeps him a little busy since he can fly about a bit.

There's a simple type of vest, using socks, though I have not tried it. http://www.thesockbuddy.com/
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ellieelectrons
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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by ellieelectrons » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:03 pm

I went to a Pamela Clark session on plucking and her comments were the sooner you can fix the problem, the more likely you will be able to resolve it. I would recommend doing some Skype consultations with Pamela. I don't know how much they cost but her website is
http://www.pamelaclarkonline.com/. I'm sure you can email/message her from there. She is really experienced with dealing with these types of problems.

Ellie.

MissK
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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by MissK » Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:11 pm

I re-read a Mattie Sue book last night, and turns out if does have reference to an incurable plucker who words a vert for protection.

Melika, good aloe info! Appreciate!

-MissK
-MissK

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ringneck
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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by ringneck » Wed Aug 21, 2013 4:40 am

I'm really sorry your bird is plucking. Have you tried Harrison's bird pellets. You can't get them in a pet store so you'll have to special order them. Another thing that's helping birds stop plucking is Dende oil. Has your vet checked her preen gland? It might be messed up. The preen gland is important as it creates oils that are precursors to Vitamin D.

Also, i know it's really hard but don't make a big deal about her feather plucking. Even direct eye contact is rewarding. Just ignore it. I know it can be frustrating to see your baby pull her feathers out in front of you, but as hard as it might be, hang in there. :(

Also, does she have plastic toys, bowls? I'd remove those right now as we are finding plastic is toxic to parrots. Every bird is different and some are more sensitive to these chemicals in plastics. Move over to crocks if you can.

How's her Vitamin A levels?

Best Wishes,

IMRAN-C

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Skyes_crew
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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by Skyes_crew » Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:35 am

Imran...we just had our avian vet out for a conference last month at our parrot club meeting and he stated that with new research on crocks they are finding since most of them are imported from other countries like china and Mexico that don't check for the contents in the glazes that small amounts of lead are leaking into the birds food through the crocks and causing heavy metal poisoning symptoms. The glazes are cracking and peeling and exposing the clay underneath thus exposing the bird to more lead. He suggested that unless you know for a fact where the crock was manufactured to just stay away from ceramic crocks all together. He told us he actually had two patients that tested for HMP that were using the crocks and had no other exposure to heavy metals. One of them was his bird. It died. I'm not trying to scare anybody. I'm just sharing the info he shared with us. :)
I am owned by my birds...and I wouldn't have it any other way :D

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MissK
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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by MissK » Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:42 am

I'm glad I went with stainless, and there is (comparatively) not much plastic in the cage. But I have to wonder about the ring that holds the coop cup onto the cage. It's painted metal, and I assume not stainless, since they felt the need to paint it. So far so good, for us, since Rocky seems to have never noticed this bit and it sits below the lip of the cup. But. You know. I doubt it's good stuff. And then there are the bars of the cage. It said "non toxic" on the box, but it also said "made in china." There have been some Errors in China, so I lost confidence in them. Hard to say where to draw the line, but at some point I have to either relax or choose to live angst-ridden.

-MissK
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Skyes_crew
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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by Skyes_crew » Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:17 am

Honestly MissK, if I could afford to plop down the 5K for an all stainless cage I would. If for nothing else than the peace of mind. Every time a new study comes out, I find myself uprooting the cage and my poor birds lives. I know it's for their own good, but sometimes I wish I couldn't read lol. I remember one night not being able to sleep because Skye spent a good part of the day licking the SS ring on one of her toys. I thought for sure she was sick or lacking some vitamin or mineral or she was dying. I was reading everything I could on it and the more I read, the more upset I got. She never did it again, and upon further investigation, there was food on the ring, but you get the picture. Sometimes the need to care for something overrules common sense. The avian world has come so far, but I believe it still has a long way to go.
I am owned by my birds...and I wouldn't have it any other way :D

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ringneck
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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by ringneck » Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:01 pm

Hey Skyes_crew,

Very good information! Most of the time i just use stainless steel cups. I do use crocks and avoid plastic if I can. It's amazing all these chemicals our birds are exposed to and we don't even know it, huh?

I've been doing so much research on feather plucking and the deeper i dig, the more I am amazed, shocked, or learn.

Amway, thanks for the information! :)

Best Wishes :wink: ,

IMRAN-C

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Skyes_crew
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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by Skyes_crew » Wed Aug 21, 2013 4:06 pm

ringneck wrote:Hey Skyes_crew,

Very good information! Most of the time i just use stainless steel cups. I do use crocks and avoid plastic if I can. It's amazing all these chemicals our birds are exposed to and we don't even know it, huh?

I've been doing so much research on feather plucking and the deeper i dig, the more I am amazed, shocked, or learn.

Amway, thanks for the information! :)

Best Wishes :wink: ,

IMRAN-C
And I wasn't aware of the dangers of plastic...so thank you for that :D
I am owned by my birds...and I wouldn't have it any other way :D

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ringneck
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Re: Plucking collar/spray??

Post by ringneck » Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:47 pm

MissK my pleasure!

Yup, that's what I love about our ringneck family, we all learn from each other 8) .

Best Wishes :wink: ,

IMRAN-C

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