Our feathered friends also suffer

Our feathered friends also suffer

I find it interesting how many reports of thyroid issues in animals appear.

J Vet Diagn Invest. 2014 Nov 26. pii: 1040638714559025. [Epub ahead of print]

An outbreak of thyroid hyperplasia (goiter) with high mortality in budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus).

Loukopoulos P1, Bautista AC1, Puschner B1, Murphy B1, Crossley BM1, Holser I1, Gomes L1, Shivaprasad HL1, Uzal FA2.

Author information


An outbreak of goiter with high morbidity and mortality in a flock of budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus) in California is described. Forty-five out of 400 adult birds exhibited signs of illness, weight loss, and enlargement in the crop area; 15 of the 45 birds died over a 2-3-month period. Diet consisted of a commercial mixture with the addition of broccoli, whole oats, and carrots, but no minerals or supplements. Six budgerigars were subjected to necropsy; all 6 birds had severely enlarged thyroid glands. Thyroid follicular hyperplasia was histologically observed in all birds examined, while granulomatous thyroiditis and microfollicular adenoma were observed in 2 birds, respectively. Virological, bacteriological, parasitological, and heavy metal analyses were negative or within normal limits. The total iodine in the thyroid glands of affected birds was measured by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. Following iodine supplementation and removal of broccoli from the diet, the owner reported weight gain and a reduced death rate among clinically affected birds; no additional birds became sick. The presence of broccoli with its iodine-binding ability and the complete lack of added minerals in the diet of these animals were thought to be the predisposing factors for the outbreak in the present study. Outbreaks of goiter accompanied by high mortality are rare in any species and, to the best of the authors' knowledge, have not been described previously in any avian species. Recognition of this condition may help improve medical, welfare, and trade standards concerning this species.

© 2014 The Author(s).


Budgerigars; goiter; iodine deficiency; outbreak; psittacine; thyroid hyperplasia



[PubMed - as supplied by publisher]



8 Replies

  • bloody 'super-food' broccoli - hate the stuff - calebraise mafia (AND it's not real broccoli either, purple sprouting is just fine & dandy - cooked)

    they'll be giving veg to carnivorous cats & dogs next - wait.... they have! result = diabetic cats & dogs - was that a painting?

  • maybe a song...

  • My husband always refers to broccoli as "the deadliest of vegetables". (Courtesy of Dr Hibbert from The Simpsons.)

  • Both videos very enjoyable. Lowry's art work is great too.

  • It's amazing they could find out the birds had a thyroid problem. It's a lovely photo of the birds (healthy).

  • I bet they tested their T3 as well as their TSH. lol.

  • My dog is hypothyroid, the vet instantly knew what it was due to the weight gain and pattern of hair loss (AKA Clinical Symptoms!).

    I'm always under strict instructions to bring her for her blood test 6 hours after her medication so they can judge how accurate her dose is for her without any variations.

    Although I'm please to have such fantastic care for my dog, I am still not diagnosed after going to my GP over the last year with the exact same clinical symptoms and then some.

    How is it that vets have proper training on thyroid when GP's don't? Surely medical training, knowledge and diagnosis for diseases that animals and humans share should be the same? How is it that clinical symptoms count for one species but not another when the disease presents in the same way for both. This is such a frustrating journey.

  • I asked my vet to take over my own treatment when they had to remove my cat's thyroid. He thought I was joking, but I pointed out that I would get far better care. More importantly, I think they would ensure I maintained my glossy coat and I would be fed treats when I went in for tests.

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