Gout in Birds

By PetMD Editorial on Jul. 1, 2008

Avian Gout

Gout is a musculoskeletal disorder affecting the muscles and bones around the joints of the bird.

Symptoms and Types

There are two types of gout. Which type the bird suffers from depends on the body parts affected:

  1. Visceral gout – this occurs in the tissues of the internal organs. 
  2. Articular gout – this chronic form of the disease which occurs when uric acid and urates are deposited in the ligaments and tendons, but more commonly in the legs or wing joints. The joints become swollen, red, tender swell, and warm to touch.

A bird with articular gout prefers to sit on a flat surface instead of perching because of the pains. If forced to walk, the bird becomes noisy due to discomfort. It may also be depressed and dehydrated, with greenish diarrhea. In addition, the bird will look dull, its feathers ruffled and the vent moist.

Male birds are susceptible to articular gout, and the common age for this affliction is four months and above.


Gout is mainly due to damaged kidneys (nephropathy). When they stop functioning normally, it results in an accumulation of uric acid and urates in the muscles and joints. Kidney damage leading to gout can be due to the following reasons:

  • High calcium and vitamin D3, with low phosphorus amounts in food
  • High amount of sodium bicarbonate in food
  • High amount of salt (more than 0.3 percent) in food
  • High amount of protein (more than 30 percent) in food
  • Not enough water in the diet (dehydration)
  • Consumption of water with a high amount of minerals (i.e., calcium and copper sulfate)
  • Viral infection (i.e., avian nephritis)
  • Antibiotics like gentamycin, nitrofurosones, and sulfonamides
  • Poisoning by disinfectants (i.e., cresol and phenol)


Treatment depends greatly on underlying cause of gout. However, water should be provided to for your bird while being is treated to and from the veterinarian; this will prevents dehydration. Decreasing uic acivital in cases of gout, and the veterinarian will usually prescribe urine acidifiers for this.

Reducing proteins, calcium, vitamin D3, and salt, incombination with an increase of phosphorus and soft water intake, are all important dietary changes to treat gout. A feed analysis is also necessary, ensures the bird receives an appropriate intake of minerals, proteins and vitamins. Multivitamins, including vitamin K, are sometimes used to help the liver and kidneys function normally, and can help control gout.

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