What to do about goiter in baby birds
What to do about goiter in baby birds

What to do about goiter in baby birds?

One of the most common problems when sending a baby bird to the vet is a condition called "acid goiter. Acid goiter is actually "goiter stasis," a condition in which the baby has a goiter - or esophagus - full of hand food that has gone bad.

The term "acid goiter" describes the condition of the contents of the goiter, but it is rarely a disease in itself. In the vast majority of cases, it is actually a symptom of another disease.

The danger of goiter comes from the spoiled food itself. Just as any other kind of food spoils if kept in a warm room for too long, undigested baby food will accumulate toxins and bacteria - and threaten the bird's life.

Goiter is a condition in which the goiter stops functioning altogether. In other words, the crop stops emptying.

An owner will approach the baby for a scheduled feeding and see that most or all of the food from the previous feeding is still there. It is important to note here that you should never give extra feedings to a baby who still has a full crop.

It is important when raising a chick by hand that you Know exactly how much and how often to feed.

Goiter is an emergency and you should call your veterinarian immediately.


So, how does a veterinarian the condition? To stabilize the patient, the spoiled food must be removed as soon as possible. In most patients, the food can be removed through an oral feeding tube. Depending on the particle size of the baby food, a standard red rubber or a metal feeding funnel with a bulb can be inserted into the crop. The crop contents can then be aspirated.

Sometimes, however, the physician will need to dilute the spoiled food by introducing warm water or electrolyte solutions into the goiter before removing the food. The crop is then gently massaged and the contents aspirated. It is important to palpate the tube in the crop during suction to prevent the crop wall from sucking against the end of the hopper. Once the crop is reasonably empty, it should be flushed by repeatedly filling it with a warm balanced electrolyte solution, massaging the crop and mixing the contents and aspirating the liquid until it is clear.

Dehydration is a problem

The vast majority of babies cared for for goiter will be moderately to severely dehydrated. The lack of fluid intake due to the non-functioning goiter combined with the persistent high fluid losses associated with many childhood illnesses results in fluid deficiencies that can be life-threatening. So once the crop is emptied, the veterinarian will take care of the patient's fluid needs, usually administering fluids intravenously.

Babies who are not fully feathered often require an ambient temperature of 29 to 32 degrees. Those who are sick may not thermoregulate as much. So your veterinarian should take extra care to ensure that hospitalized patients are kept warm. High humidity should also be maintained to avoid contributing to dehydration.

As far as medications are concerned, bacterial overgrowth in the goiter and the rest of the gastrointestinal tract must be addressed. While antifungals may eventually be useful, antibacterials are much more urgently needed.

Once first aid has been provided, your veterinarian should perform a detailed physical examination and collect appropriate samples for a thorough diagnostic evaluation.

Remember that goiter is a symptom, not a disease, so the underlying problem must be identified and resolved if the baby is to thrive.