Hen Falling to Left Side

Discussion in 'Emergencies, Illness, Meds & Cures' started by OlyChickenGuy, Oct 18, 2012.

  1. OlyChickenGuy

    OlyChickenGuy Bikes With Chickens

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    I had a friend call me last night distraught that her favourite hen could barely stand up. She was cuddling Caramel, the hen, just the day before, but yesterday she kept tipping over to her left, walking splay-footed to support herself, but when examined showed no signs of lumps, broken bones, or wounds. Today she can only stand in brief bouts at best, otherwise she's laying on her left side, propping herself with her wing. She won't eat or drink.

    Does anyone know what this might be? It sounds like a stroke to me. The only diseases I can remember off the top of my head are Merek's and New Castle's, but the one I'm thinking of causes the bird to twist its neck around, and Caramel is not doing that.
     
  2. piglett

    piglett Senior Member

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    remove that hen from the rest at once!!!!!
     

  3. OlyChickenGuy

    OlyChickenGuy Bikes With Chickens

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    piglett - I'm a certified veterinary assistant - it goes without saying that if Merek's or New Castle's is on the possibility list that the hen would be immediately separated. It doesn't look like it's either ( or ANY disease ) at this point, though. It's almost cetainly a stroke.



    Update on Caramel: Her owner brought her to visit me the other day, and she's clearly not diseased. No respiratory disteress, no nasal discharge, eyes were bright and she was alert and energetic, albeit weak. Whenever she tried to peck at food ( which she's occasionally eating and drinking now, but it seems she's having difficulty swallowing and it tires her out quickly ), she'd miss, always overshooting in the same direction. She was able to stand and walk around, but stumbled and would lie on her left side, using her wing to prop herself up.

    Since then, her owner has reported to me that she's been on a roller coaster of being "better and worse". It seems that she's often times worse in the morning, then comes around as the day progresses. She's gone through bouts of twisting her head around, even spinning it, but in the end seems to "even out", so to speak. She spent one day on a heating pad because she went hypothermic throughout the night.

    All of these symptoms point towards a stroke from what I can tell. She remains alert and active ( to an extent - she tires easily ), and as I mentioned before, does not show any other signs of potential disease or unrest.

    Has anyone had experience with a chicken stroke?
     
  4. Energyvet

    Energyvet New Member

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    Here's my 2 cents as a veterinarian. Sounds like brain lesion, or inner ear. Dogs that do this often have vestibular disease. Inner ear can also appear as neurologic disease due to imbalance and falling over.

    Generally it's treated with steroids with or without antibiotics. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

    I would recommend a necropsy if she passes on her own or you decide to euthanize her. Will be worth the money for a pathologist to look at her. And make sure it's a pathologist and not a general DVM does the necropsy.

    Good luck with her whatever you decide.
     
  5. OlyChickenGuy

    OlyChickenGuy Bikes With Chickens

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    Would inner ear or brain lesion also cause her to have varying levels of weakness in her limbs? Her left leg seems weaker than the right, though she's still clealy trying to gasp with her foot when you hold her, and otherwise walk or stand on it, though her right leg seems fine - a much firmer grasp and much more strength when pushing off to stand up or walk. Similar situation, but less noticable with her wings.
     
  6. Energyvet

    Energyvet New Member

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    It could. Dizziness and weakness can present similarly. Also a lesion in the vertebra - like a disc subluxation can present similar signs.

    Honestly it's just really tough when I'm not looking at the patient. Right now it's all hypothetical. Could be a viral lesion or parasitic.

    I really think a necropsy would be very valuable.
     
  7. OlyChickenGuy

    OlyChickenGuy Bikes With Chickens

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    We're watching her very closely and giving her around-the-clock care right now, and she's come a long way since it first happened. We're keeping our fingers crossed she'll pull through. Also, unfortunately a necropsy would be unlikely since we live in an area with a relatively small population, and the nearest "specialty" vet ( certified specialty, that is ) is nearly 80 miles away.
     
  8. Energyvet

    Energyvet New Member

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    You can ship Fed express with cold packs.

    Honestly I hope she pulls through for you.
     
  9. OlyChickenGuy

    OlyChickenGuy Bikes With Chickens

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    Caramel is doing much better today! Her head and tail are still cocked to the side, but not twisted or upside-down. She's eating and drinking like it's going out of style, running around, and trying with all her might to be a "normal" chicken. She's worse in the mornings and gets better as the day goes on, so I can only imagine what this will mean for her tonight!

    Thank you for your insights. One last question, though - my friend has just set her up with a heating pad on the couch that she snoozes on when she tuckers out, and has been putting food ( hard-boiled or scrambled eggs, some layer pellet, though she doesn't like the pellets much, leafy greens, anything we can think of that she likes ) very near her, or trying to put it in her mouth to help her "catch" it, and when she's not drinking on her own, my friend uses a syringe to dribble a little bit of water into her mouth ( which she fights ). That's all we could think of doing. Other than the medications ( we're both extremely strapped for cash ), would you have any suggestions for furthering her care, or do you think we're doing well enough as it is?
     
  10. Energyvet

    Energyvet New Member

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    If she improving then by all means keep it up. You don't have any meds or money so what else can you do? 60% of the patients will get better no matter what you do. That's truth. Just do no harm.
     
  11. OlyChickenGuy

    OlyChickenGuy Bikes With Chickens

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    Caramel stands and walks around on her own, is eating normally, lists to the right and has head curved SLIGHTLY to the right anymore, and only stumbles a little bit, and behaves as a normal chicken ought to now. I'm inclined to believe she'll probably have balance issues for the rest of her life, or they'll at the very least heal very, very slowly, but hey, it looks like she's survived!
     
  12. Energyvet

    Energyvet New Member

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    Very cool. She might be close to normal in 6 months.
     
  13. OlyChickenGuy

    OlyChickenGuy Bikes With Chickens

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    Thank you very much for your interest and participation in this thread. It did a great deal to help my friend feel better about what she was doing and facing.
     
  14. OlyChickenGuy

    OlyChickenGuy Bikes With Chickens

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    Caramel takes a turn for the worse. The emails from my friend this morning:

    Caramel is not doing so well this morning. A true set back. She got out of bed okay, but almost immediately started deteriorating. She started out falling to the right and lying on her right side, but was lying on her left side and not getting up when I left for work. She ate very little.

    ... and from just a half hour ago:

    Her tail is way down, her eyes half closed. Stands unsteadily, mostly laying down on her side. Swiffer is in now. She let Swiffer share food. She is eating little at a time, can't clean her beak so I do it for her.

    Note: "Swiffer" is a bantam frizzled Cochin, and usually a bully, and reference to her being "in now" means "in the house" - Swiffer refuses to sleep outside, and Caramel is kept inside to avoid the extreme rain been coming on.
     
  15. OlyChickenGuy

    OlyChickenGuy Bikes With Chickens

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    Email from my friend again...

    Caramel is in bad shape. The same as the day it happened. No energy. Laying on here side. She does have control of her head. Laid an egg yesterday, but it looks like she laid an egg without a shell or membrane and laid in it today.
     
  16. OlyChickenGuy

    OlyChickenGuy Bikes With Chickens

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    New updates from Caramel's owner:

    from yesterday-

    Caramel is just alive. Won't die. I can get her to swallow, so give her fluids, little food. I put a small ball of canned dog food and grit in her beak and she swallows. But after a couple of bites, she just lets it sit in her beak. I don't see the point of force feeding her, when she won't even open her eyes. Mostly I just keep her hydrated, turn her, clean her up. Her poop is very smelly and that is what I was smelling on her. She smelled fine after I cleaned her up.

    from today-
    Caramel is not much better, but she did show interest in food last night and was opening her eyes more. So I fed and watered her. This morning she ate also, which is good because she is usually more lethargic in the morning.
    I am taking her to work with me so I can continue to feed her often throughout the day. I have more hope now, but understand it may be a false recovery.
    Long ago, I had a dog dying of kidney disease. One day she woke up full of energy and even ate. She died after I left for work. I hope this is not the case with her. She is a young chicken.