Ask The Vet: theme questions (respiratory diseases)

Every four weeks on a Saturday, we will select some very interesting questions and answers regarding a certain topic (disease, medicine, etc.) and publish them on our homepage. Today's topic is respiratory diseases.

Last year's racing season was very poor. My pigeons returned about 20 to 30 minutes after the first pigeon was timed in the club. I do not wish to repeat this again this season. I noticed that my pigeons had dry mucos under their nostrils, had red throats and some also had a thread-like thin line of clear mucos running down from the roof of the mouth to the epiglotis. I also noticed that the pigeons had several yellow dots on the roof of their mouths. Do you suggest a 21/28 day treatment of doxycycline? This season I intend to follow your preventative medication scheme. When you say [trichomonas + ornithos], we mix any two products for canker and respiratory together, but do you suggest any products yourself? What preparation do you suggest to enhance endurance? I would also like to add, since our tap water is hard and doxycyline would not have the desired effect as regards to treatment, do you suggest I would add doxycyline to the feed springled with a glucose mixture or some oil?

All the symptoms that you see with your pigeons indicate respiratory problems. If your pigeons had these problems in the season, then it is normal that they returned home too late! Problems with the airways are often due to many different causes: a 'multifactor problem'. Several factors can play a role in breathing problems: stress, high infection pressure and surrounding factors. We have to keep this in mind when treating and preventing the problem. Surrounding factors: bad lofts: draughts and humidity! Stress: weekly basketting, often after tough races (rain and head wind). Infection pressure: these can, amongst other things, play a role: Chlamydophila, Staphylococcus int., Mycoplasma, E. Coli … Treatment and prevention: try to exclude all these factors: make sure you have a dry and well ventilated loft. Treat your pigeons after a tough race with eye drops (based on antibiotics!). Treat the more serious problems with a cure of antibiotics. You get the best results with doxycycline, tylosin or enrofloxacin. Let your vet decide which antibiotic will achieve the best result in your loft. This could be preceded by an antibiogram.
A 21 day cure with doxycycline before the season can solve a lot of the problems. However, it is important that everything mentioned above is in order. If this is not the case, the problem soon returns. A trichomonas contagion is responsible for the fact that the pigeon is more susceptible to secondary airway problems. In case of contamination, you can treat them at the same time (trichomonas individually with a tablet or powder in the food, antibiotics in the water).
The working of doxycycline is reduced when grit or water containing a lot of lime is consumed. Treatment via the feed, so as you suggest, does not really solve this problem. The binding with Ca occurs in the digestive organs. You can do three things: remove the grit during treatment, use demineralised water or increase the dosage.
(Karlo Van Rompaey)

I have seen three youngbirds in a period of two weeks with swollen heads, watery eyes and yellow streeks in the mouth. They lose weight very quickly and they do not eat. After injecting them with an ornithose injection, one bird made improvements while another was put down. I have heard other fanciers having similar problems. I have put the rest of the young birds on enrofloxacine, hoping it stops the spread of the infection. What do you suggest I should do?

The symptoms you say seem to be related to respiratory problems, which can be caused by plenty of different bacteria, viruses .... E. Coli, Chlamydia, Staphyllococs, Mycoplasma, Pelistega, Riemerella, Herpes virus, etc, can all cause respiratory problems, like swollen heads, dirty noses, sneezing, scratching on their heads, watery eyes,... Also some yellow streaks in the mouth can sometimes be seen with tricho, but also with Herpes etc. This last one can also damage the liver a lot, which possibly explains the death of one of your pigeons. A treatment for respiratory diseases will probably help to solve your problem, but if there is also a viral factor present, it can take a long time before the problem completely stops. Sometimes you see that some pigeons are healthy again, whereas other pigeons that were healthy before become ill with the same symptoms, although you have treated them already. Can I ask you how old your young birds are at the time that they have problems?
(Pascal Lanneau)

After my pigeons have been flying for 20 minutes, some of them land at the loft with an open mouth. Last month, the pigeons took a 7-day ronidazole and after that, they were treated or 5 days with aviosan against mycoplasma. I also gave them tylan for three days, at half a dose. If this product does not help them enough, what could be cuasing these breathing problems? Could it be the worms? What is the reason?

The open mouth breathing could be caused by a few reasons. First of all, it could be that the birds just have to get rid of body warmth in case of high temperatures and/or that they are having too much body fat. This has no infectious cause and can be dealt with by a less energy rich diet and enough training.
 There is also the possibility of fungus inside the airsacks of the pigeons. This is sometimes caused by bad quality straw in the loft and/or a humid loft environment. The fungus is called aspergillosis and can cause some serious internal respiratory problems. Treatment is difficult changes to the loft are the best solution!
For other causes or confirmation of the above causes it could be advisable to let a bird with the symptoms be necropsied.
(Ruben Lanckriet)

My problem is that while eating, my pigeons strech their neck and twist their stomach to swallow the food. When flying on the loft they return with open mouth. I gave them the following medication: doxycicline, tylosine, deworming for hair tape and round worms, vaccination for Salmonella pt (colombovac), e. coli, cancer.

In the symptoms that you are giving there are 2 types of symptoms :
 1/ They are sitting with open mouths after a flight:
  This is typically a respiratory problem, normally ornithosis. This has to be treated with doxycycline  for 4 to 6 weeks.
  2/ The second kind of symptom related to eating could also be a problem of digestion, or an infected throat or stomach. So for this problem, I would treat them with e.g. lincospectine for 10 days.
So, I would avise you to give them doxycycline for 10 days + lincospectine together, and then give them only doxycycline for another 4 weeks.
But to be honest , the best way to act is to firstly allow an autopsy and analysis to be 100% certain what the problem is.
(Wim Boddaert)

At the moment I have healthy, muscled pigeons but when I'm dropping the forma drops in the eye it cannot run away,  and this takes several seconds to pass. What treatment do you suggest?

When you drop drops in the eyes and they do not go away immediately, this is very indicative for upper respiratory problems, which is negative for the navigation of racing pigeons. If the drops are coloured like forma drops, the drops should go away rapidly and the colour should be visible in the throat after dropping it in the eyes. This means the connection ducts between eyes, nose, throat is open as it should be. Depending on other symptoms, signs that appear during the clinical examination and/or results from swab tests, different medication (mostly antibiotics) could help coping with these problems, e.g. doxycycline, spiramycine, amoxicilline, etc... But there could also be a viral component like herpes. In that case antibiotics do not help completely. If you see this frequently with your birds, it could be interesting to change your loft climate (better ventilation).
(Ruben Lanckriet)


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