Liver disease is not a disease in its self but the result of other health problems.
Birds that have liver problems may be highly contagious between birds, and one should seek veterinary help if you suspect a bird of having a liver problem, as they are very difficult to resolve. Including Hepatitis and Inflammation of the Liver.

Liver disease is associated most often with poor nutrition or bacterial infections, however it can also be associated with many other diseases, hence liver problems are often difficult to diagnose, until a necropsy1. is carried out.

To recognise a problem exists it helps to understand canary droppings which is made up of 3 parts:
  • Urine - In a healthy bird the urine should be clear. An increase in urine that cannot be explained by diet could mean a disease, not necessarily liver disease.
  • Urates - In a healthy bird the urates should be a white to cream, chalky paste. Green or Yellow Urates indicate compromised liver function. Red urates indicate internal bleeding.
  • Faeces - Should be of solid form and not liquid. Colour is dependent on diet. A diet of seeds and greens produces a greenish faeces.
When a necropsy1. is carried out on a bird with liver inflammation the liver will often explode through the skin as it is cut revealing how grossly enlarged it is.
An enlarged liver can also be seen as a blue/dark spot on the right side of the abdomen caudal2. to the sternum as in:

The treatment should start with a clean cage where the birds droppings are not available to the birds by either having a wire bottom or gravel/sand that is removed daily. This is to eliminate the bird/s from being reinfected during treatment.
Provide "Clean Water" and uncontaminated Plain Canary seed.
Once diagnosed use the medication as prescribed, or use an Antibiotic followed by a Probiotic.

Prevention in the case of Liver problems is so much easier than trying to find and cure the problem.
Prevention starts with:
  • A clean environment, particularly from the birds Faeces
  • Clean Water.
  • Clean DRY seed.
  • Greens on a regular basis, in particular Dandelion3. which is reportedly good for liver function and detoxification.
1. Necropsy - an examination and dissection of a dead body to determine cause of death or the changes produced by disease.
2. Caudal - at, or near the tail or hind parts; posterior: Situated beneath or on the underside.
3.Dandelion Taraxacum is a large genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. Dandelions, flowers, roots and leaves, have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine & medicinal teas, most notably for liver detoxification, as a natural diuretic and for inflammation reduction.

Avian Medicine by Thomas N. Tully, Martin P. C. Lawton, G. M. Dorrestein.
The Canary Book by R. L. Wallace
Diseases of Canaries by Robert Stroud, Herbert C. Sanborn, Ph.D.

Published 15th June 2009