What is Gout?
In visceral gout, uric acid deposits are found in the liver, spleen, pericardial sac (the covering of the heart), kidneys, and air sacs.
Gout can be primary, when the high uric acid level is caused by an abnormal breakdown of protein, or secondary, in which case the kidneys aren't able to adequately excrete uric acid. Secondary gout can be caused by medications, chronic diseases, kidney disease, overeating, improper diet (high protein, and possibly high Vitamin D or low Vitamin A), dehydration, some infections, and other environmental factors that affect the kidneys' ability to eliminate uric acid.Signs of Gout
If your bird has articular gout, his joints may be enlarged, stiff, and painful, and he may continually shift weight from one foot to the other and have a shuffling gait. The bird may be unable to perch, spending most of his time on the floor of the cage. If the wings are affected, the bird may be unable to fly. If internal organs are involved, other signs include:
A diagnosis of gout involves analyzing the diet, environmental factors, availability of fresh, clean water, and a thorough history of previous health problems and treatments. An avian veterinarian suspecting gout will usually take x-rays and blood tests, and may also analyze the joint fluid or perform a biopsy. Uric acid crystals found in joint fluid or tissues will confirm the diagnosis. Treatment
If your veterinarian determines that your bird has gout, treatment will depend on whether there's an underlying dietary or environmental cause. If so, this must be remedied. Also, if the cause of the gout is due to improper nutrition, your veterinarian will put your bird on a low protein diet and may supplement with Vitamin A. If your bird is dehydrated, your veterinarian may want to administer fluids. Your avian practitioner may also prescribe a medication such as allopurinol, which decreases the amount of uric acid produced in the body.
Most birds with gout must be treated for the rest of their lives. If therapy is discontinued, there is a possibility that the painful signs may reappear. Although there is no cure for gout, it's important for every bird owner to keep an eye out for symptoms, while also providing proper nutrition; an adequate source of Vitamin A, either from leafy, green vegetables, or vitamin supplements; and fresh, clean water.