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#23298 - 08/14/07 01:10 PM Arfy is self- mutilating - help  
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Mary Jones - Arfy's Mom Offline
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Hi all you guys. I havn't been posting on here for years, but I still keep reading your messages regularly.

I need a bit of advice - have searched through past threads but can not find the answer I am looking for.

Arfy, my 16 year old M2, who has been my boy for 11 years, has gone from feather plucking to very bad self-mutilation. He is almost down to his breast bone.

The skin-plucking/mutilation only started a week ago and we took him to our avian specialist at the first sign. He has been a summer feather-plucker for 4 years, but nothing very serious, but this new episode is frightening me because of all the blood he is losing.

Went to see vet last Friday, who gave him a steroid/antibiotic injection and gave me some antibiotics & steroid medication to give him, which he takes well with mashed up food, and some steroid cream to put on the wound - which we do twice a day.

Watched him over the weekend and on Sunday morning we came downstairs to a blood-bath, it was so frightening, but we tried not to over-react - very hard not to scream when you see your bird dripping with blood.

Visited the vet again yestarday, Monday, and he put some drops onto his feathers on his chest to kill any mites, if he has any, but he was checked 3 years ago, had full bloods, skin scrapings etc and was in perfect health. The vet tried to put a colar on him and he went wild, so we brought it home to try later last night, but we can not get it near him - he just goes berserk and I do not want to cause him more stress.

At 3.30am today, he woke us up calling Mom at the top of his voice - went down to him and again a blood-bath. I had to stay with him for 2 hours to calm him down. Again at 8am, when we got up, more self-mutilating, so I've washed him in warm salt water, gently dried him and applied more cream.

I am trying really hard not to over-react and pay much attention to his chest, but it is hard - I beleive that he is now doing it to get the reaction from me - but what can I do to break the cycle? It's breaking my heart, his poor chest looks so sore and he looks such a sorry state with blood stained feathers that have gone all crusty.

In himself, his personality is just the same, still laughing and playing, still chattering away, still eating, still enjoying cuddles, it's as if he is totally oblivious to what he is doing to himself.

Could this be an emotional reaction? - we had Teddybear, our cat, put to sleep 3 weeks ago. When I first had Arfy in 1996, we had Chloe Cat & Teddybear and then came Arfy. Since then we have added to our 'Flock', a dog and 4 other cats. Chloe, aged 22, went to heaven last November and Teddybear, aged 14, 3 weeks ago. Whilst we still have 4 cats and a dog, who all get along great with Arfy, is he missing Teddybear? Does he think that he might be the next to go because all the rest are 'newcommers' as far as he is concerned, his original 2 'flock members' have gone? I know this may sound a bit daft, but I am trying to work out what has triggered this mutilation.

Please, please any advice will be greatly received.

Thanking you all, with much love to you and your 2's xxxxx

#23299 - 08/14/07 02:34 PM Re: Arfy is self- mutilating - help  
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Kyrie Offline
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Mary, I am so sorry to hear Arfy is having a rough time. I don't much experience with pluckers/mutilators but many on the board do and will be along shortly to help you. Here are a few thoughts that come to mind.

Has your vet done a blood test for metal toxicity, or has Arfy been exposed to anything that he could have slowly injested zinc or other metals. Sometimes a new toy chain, a set of keys, etc. can be the culprit. Our umbrella started picking lightly at her legs about 7 years ago and that was the first thing our vet addressed.

Do you think Arfy would allow you to put a sweater on him? Kim has devised one she uses on her umbrella which she accepts well, it doesn't go on over the head, but ties on their back. She makes them out of old t-shirts. If you think Arfy will accept this she can post a link to her pictures.

Also, since Arfy is self mutilating so severely, do you think your vet would recommend a mild short term anti-anxiety medication to get him through this chronic stage? I've heard sometimes that is just enough to let the healing start and then they'll move past the obsessive stage. Or, if you don't want to go that route a diluted chamomile tea sometimes helps calm.

You may also want to give him a new shredding or grooming toy (if it doesn't stress him out) to keep him mind off the wound for now.

That's an interesting theory on whether the change in his flock members has precipitated this episode. Maybe someone will have experience in this area. Keep us updated and hang in there!
You'll get through this!

#23300 - 08/14/07 03:35 PM Re: Arfy is self- mutilating - help  
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I am very sorry to hear this - I cannot imagine how difficult this is for you!! While you are in the process of trying to determine the cause/s I encourage you to have him collared to prevent him from doing further damage to himself. Collaring can also help break the cycle while other reasons are explored. As mentioned sweaters can be a useful tool also, but may need a make-shift breast plate inserted to prevent the beak from tearing through. Hopefully your vet suggested this to you. I am also a little worried about cleaning him with salt water - it seems that salt would burn his open wounds?

Best of luck to you and your little sweetie. Please keep us posted!


Birds are angels who lift us up when our own wings forget how to fly.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world - indeed it is the only thing that ever has!" ~~~ Margaret Meade ~~~

Noelle, A Rehabilitation in Progress
#23301 - 08/14/07 05:19 PM Re: Arfy is self- mutilating - help  
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Mary Jones - Arfy's Mom Offline
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Thanks for your concerns, it is so good to know that you have people who understand your emotions to talk to.

I will answer your comments quickly, I'm not being ignorant, just believe in getting straight to the point without waffle :p

1. Vet has taken blood samples and we will get the results later in the week.

2. We are going to try harder tonight to get the collar on him, was not so persistent last night because he had already been stressed by being at the vets.

3. Didn't bathe wound with salt water, just the bloodied areas.

4. Would be very interested in how to make a sweater for him that ties at the back - I don't think i would get anything over his head.

5. Vet suggested that if there was no improvement in a week, to concider Prozac. has anyone else on the board had experience with Prozac? Sounds a bit scary, but I am not the expert and I guess it can't be any worse than what he is doing now.

Thanks once again to Kyrie & Echos Mum, for your kind words of wisdom xxxxx

#23302 - 08/14/07 05:33 PM Re: Arfy is self- mutilating - help  
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Mary Jones - Arfy's Mom Offline
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Mary Jones - Arfy's Mom  Offline
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Hubby is home from work now - it's 4.35pm in UK. We are going to try again with the collar after he's had a cuppa (Hubby not Arfy)will let you know if we succeed!!

#23303 - 08/14/07 06:02 PM Re: Arfy is self- mutilating - help  
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Hi there...not sure how long ago you posted...just wondering how it's going? I'm praying for you, your family and birdie.

#23304 - 08/14/07 06:06 PM Re: Arfy is self- mutilating - help  
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Kim & Lilly Offline
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Hi Mary,

So sorry for you troubles with Arfy ( love the name)
I have a 5 year old U2 that is a part time plucker. She has made sores on her chest from picking/plucking before as well, but nothing that has bled profusly.

What I use it an old t-shirt to make a vest out of. It does not keep her from picking her shoulders and legs, but the main area she bothers and that I want to protect is her chest. This may or may not work for you, but I don't think it would hurt to try it! It just gives them much more freedom than the collar does while protecting the chest area.

It took a little while for Lilly to get used to it, but once she did, she did not mind it at all and left it alone for the most part.

You may want to try and use a thicker t-shirt than I do, and also consider some sort of breast plate as EM suggested. You could use a base ball cap for that, just cut off the bill, round it a bit and stitch the t-shirt to it.

Okay here are some pictures of what I did for Lillys t-shirt vest. Use your imagination, and do what works best for you and Arfy.

http://pets.webshots.com/album/559555985wKnpJR

The first tie goes around her neck, the second tie goes under her wing and ties oved her body and third, goes underneath, and tied above tail.

The very best of luck to you, I know this is very difficult. It is so hard we we see the ones we love hurting themselves.

Please keep us posted....

Kim

#23305 - 08/14/07 06:44 PM Re: Arfy is self- mutilating - help  
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Sorry for what you and Arfy are going through at the moment. May I suggest trying on the chamomile tea or Kim's vest first instead of collar and Prozac? Chamomile tea can have a strong effect on the too, it just depends on how diluted it is. Good luck

#23306 - 08/14/07 08:04 PM Re: Arfy is self- mutilating - help  
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Mary Jones - Arfy's Mom Offline
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Thanks GN18 and a big thank you to Kim for such a fast reply.

Have just put Arfy's first T Shirt on! He ain't very impressed with it, but has not ripped it off yet, which we know he could do in seconds if he really wanted to!

He keeps looking down at his chest, then sighing as much as to say, 'Oh well, can't get at that now', and then goes to one of his toys and bites hell out of it.

He has now had it on for 30mins and we have a good supply of material to make more when (or should I say if <img border="0" alt="[laughing]" title="" src="graemlins/laugh[1].gif" /> ) this one gets ripped off. Really hoping that this will do the trick.

Hubby is going to the late store in a bit to see if they have any chamomile tea. I do hope that these ideas help as it really stressed him yesterday trying to get the collar on and I really do not want to put him through that again, also, do not want to go down the Prozac route, as an ex nurse, I know what that drug can do to humans!

Love to you all

Mary & Arfy ooh and Daddy as well (Jarrod) xxx

#23307 - 08/14/07 08:32 PM Re: Arfy is self- mutilating - help  
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Kim & Lilly Offline
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Mary, that is fantastic! I so hope this works for you! It has done wonders for my Lilly! She has been wearing it for a few months and her progress is wonderful. It is the only thing I have found that works for her and she still has all of her mobility.

I take it off for showers a couple of times a week and put it back on changing it every other week. She is very used to it now ( she looked at it very strangely at first too).

I took it off this past Sunday and her feathers and chest look wonderful. I will have to find some before and after pictures to post. I am leaving it off so far for now, but if I see her messing with that area it will go right back on.

The best of luck to you and keep us posted.

Hugs to you!! Kim

#23308 - 08/14/07 09:33 PM Re: Arfy is self- mutilating - help  
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Mary Jones - Arfy's Mom Offline
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Once I work out how to get my pics on the web I will post them for you. Have taken some pics this morning, showing how bad he is, and I've just taken a couple with his posh new T shirt on - he seems quite happy with at the mo and hasn't even tried to remove it (2 hours now!!). Let's see what happens during the night - that will be the test. Fingers crossed for a good nights rest for all of us.

Much love from Sunny England lol x

#23309 - 08/14/07 11:20 PM Re: Arfy is self- mutilating - help  
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Mary Jones - Arfy's Mom Offline
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Off to bed now, it's 10.22pm here. Arfy seems settled, T shirt still on, will updtae you tomorrow.

Thanks for all your love & support

Mary & Arfy xx

#23310 - 08/15/07 01:53 AM Re: Arfy is self- mutilating - help  
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Mary, I'm so sorry, what a shock that must be after so many years. I don't have any good advice to give you about the mutilating, but wanted to say that we irrigate more serious wounds at work (doctor's office) with sterile saline all the time. You can make it yourself by mixing 2 teaspoons of salt with 1/2 gallon of water and boiling it for 10 minutes. After it cools store it in a clean container and you can use it to gently clean the wound (We buy NaCl bottles of course, but I had a patient that had to irrigate her bladder every day and couldn't afford to buy that much andone of our docs gave her this "recipe").

We use a syringe, but you could gently pour it over. The amount of salt is not enough to burn like when you swim in the ocean with a cut. I'm sure your vet will recommend something safe to use for birds, but until you talk to him I can't imagine the saline solution could hurt Although if he's leaving the t-shirt on I personally would probably not even touch it for fear of giving him ideas eek ! Just thought I'd post this in case you find him bleeding again before you talk to your vet. Hope you never need to use it though. Best of luck smile !


~ Nikki

The strongest of all warriors are these two Time and Patience. -Leo Tolstoy
#23311 - 08/15/07 04:25 AM Re: Arfy is self- mutilating - help  
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I have my own little mutilator, she has been in her collar since November. I tried taking it off twice since, but she goes back to mutilating. I wish you luck with the vests. They are wonderful and easy. If it doesn't work and you need to use the collar, it really helps to cover the head(eyes) with a towel, it calms them and makes it easier for you to put on. Katie was awful the first time, about made me cry, she screamed and flopped all over in a state of panic. I took it off, put it on, took it off. She got used to it and can still do almost everything she used to. I never thought of using the bill of a baseball cap in the vest, I will have to try that. You could also try some aloe in the water. I've been playing around with diet right now, seeing if something there is triggering her problems.
Since toos are so emotional, I would think losing one of the 'family' could have made the impact to mutilating on your bird.
I myself would try a more natural approach before using Prozac. Somewhere I have a list of herbs for birds, I probably originally found it here. I will look for it if you are interested.
I know there are several kinds of collars also, I use the flat disc shaped one. I also used old sweatshirts for my vests. Wish you luck, and I'm really tired and have to go now-I feel like I am babbling.
Sue

#23312 - 08/15/07 11:33 AM Re: Arfy is self- mutilating - help  
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Mary Jones - Arfy's Mom Offline
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10.20am UK time

He kept is T shirt on all night!!!!

I am so happy smile he is paying no attention to it at all and has not even sratched his chest through the T shirt - I am so proud of him. I am not going to take it off until Friday when we go back to the vets, don't want to remind him of what is underneath. We can have a look at the wound on Friday, I just keep making sure that the material is not stuck to the wound, which it isn't, because I deliberately tried to make the front of his T shirt quite loose but not too loose for him to trip over it.

He seems so content in himself, it's as if he knows that the T shirt is there to help him. He's eating fine, is not stressed and is in fine spirits again.

Thanks again for all your love and messages

Mary & Arfy xxxxxxxxxx

#23313 - 08/15/07 02:52 PM Re: Arfy is self- mutilating - help  
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FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!


Birds are angels who lift us up when our own wings forget how to fly.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world - indeed it is the only thing that ever has!" ~~~ Margaret Meade ~~~

Noelle, A Rehabilitation in Progress
#23314 - 08/15/07 04:34 PM Re: Arfy is self- mutilating - help  
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Mary,

That is wonderful!! Thanks for the update and please let us know how the vet visit goes!!

xoxo Kim

#23315 - 08/15/07 07:18 PM Re: Arfy is self- mutilating - help  
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Mary, I'm so glad the t shirt thing worked for you. I would never have thought a bird that plucked would leave it on and am amazed that they do, but several people on the board have had great success with it.

Thanks to Kim and Lilly for sharing that with everyone. (and for coming up with the idea!)

#23316 - 08/15/07 07:37 PM Re: Arfy is self- mutilating - help  
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This is such a heartening thread. Mary, I am so happy the tee shirt thing is working. Thank you so much for the constant updates. And, thank those of you who immediately came to Mary's aide with advice and things to try. How wonderful to have such a large group of caring bird lovers! Cindy

#23317 - 08/15/07 09:50 PM Re: Arfy is self- mutilating - help  
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Mary Jones - Arfy's Mom Offline
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*****Latest update*****
8.42pm UK time

T Shirt still on and not been touched!!

I really am amazed, like Birdiemommy, that a serious mutilator, like my Arfy, would simply stop because of Kim's little T shirt made from a bit of old material - you are an angel Kim!!!

My Conclusion - It is obviously the sight of the wound that he dosn't like, not the feeling of it. Like when he tries to pick my moles off for me, he can't understand that they are part of me and tries to get rid of them for me.

Oh, how we learn from our little feathered friends every day.

So much love & thanks to you all, you were there when Arfy and I needed you most, I just hope that I can re-pay the good, one day, to another Too lover xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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