Avian Proventricular Dilatation Diseases (PDD)

Avian Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD) is a fatal neurological disorder that affects many bird species, including parrots and cockatiels. The disease can also cause their proventriculus, the portion of their stomach responsible for secreting digestive enzymes, to become enlarged and dilated.

PDD is a relatively new disease that was first identified in the late 1990s. It’s not fully understood, but it appears to be transmitted through contact with an infected bird or their feces. Symptoms usually become apparent within 4-6 weeks after infection, but they can take up to nine months to show.

PDD is a serious and potentially fatal disease, and it’s important to watch your birds closely for any signs of the disease. Early diagnosis and treatment can help improve your bird’s quality of life and extend their lifespan.

Symptoms of Avian Proventricular Dilatation Diseases

  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Poor feather health
  • Vomiting
  • Regurgitation
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle twitching or tremors
  • Weakness in their legs, wings, and head
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Changes in behavior such as depression or aggression

Diagnosing Avian Proventricular Dilatation Diseases

PDD can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are often similar to other diseases. Diagnosis usually involves a physical examination and laboratory tests. A complete blood count, biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and radiographs can help with diagnosis. In some cases, a tissue sample will be taken from the proventriculus for further testing and confirmation of PDD.

an illustration of a sick parrotlet

Stages of Avian Proventricular Dilatation Diseases

PDD is split into three stages:

Early stage:

Your bird might not have any symptoms, but possibly a few. This stage can last up to four weeks.

Intermediate stage:

Your bird will start to have more severe symptoms such as weight loss, poor feather condition, and difficulty swallowing. This stage can last up to eight weeks.

Late stage:

At this point, your bird will be severely ill and could have difficulty breathing, paralysis, and even death.

Treating Avian Proventricular Dilatation Diseases

Treating PDD is largely supportive with the goal of improving your bird’s quality of life. Treatment can include a combination of antibiotics, antifungal drugs, and anti-inflammatory medications. In some cases, surgery will be required to reduce the size of their proventriculus.

Preventing Avian Proventricular Dilatation Diseases

The best way to prevent PDD is to ensure your birds are kept in a clean and hygienic environment. All cages, toys, and perches should be cleaned regularly with disinfectant. It’s also important to limit their contact with other birds that could be infected with the disease.