Mabel: Day 3 in Sicktown

After a nice day in a warm coop with sunshine streaming in yesterday and a powerful heat lamp warming her fluffed-up bod, Mabel came into the house and spent the night in the bathroom tub. Heat lamp, space heater, all the pine-shaving-soft-hay-newspaper-filling a fluffed-up hen could want. This morning, I transferred her to the office and set up the heat shop again (sick hens need 80-degree-plus heat to help deal with respiratory infections and such, I am told by many avian experts). Managed to get her to eat some shredded spinach leaves, water, six mealworms (eww), and her antibiotics (crushed and mixed with applesauce and placed on her beak, which she immediately ate up).

Got an eMail from my vet, whose bird-expert-veterinarian-classmate friend advised him on Mabel’s x-rays (shown below, for those who are as curious as me about seeing x-rays of a chicken), and thinks we should do blood work and an ultrasound, and remove some of the fluid in her abdomen that could be contributing to her discomfort and labored breathing. Another vet thinks it could be heart-related. Before we continue treatment, we will first find out the problem. Thus, today, 4:00 pm: vet appointment for blood draw. Won’t Mabel be thrilled. If the stress doesn’t kill her — I know; I’m trying not to think that way. But she’s a strong hen, and I have to do everything we can to know the issue. If for no other reason than to be sure others with the same dilemma (lack of appropriate, expert local chicken care) have some knowledge on this, as well.

The world of backyard chickens is growing, and there will be a need for more and more local small-animal vets to increase their scope of animal care. People like me who treat their chickens much like their beloved pets will want to know how to properly care for them in the case of a medical emergency like this. And that’s why I need to thank my vet, Dr. David Landers of Partridge Animal Hospital, for the amazing help and quest for knowledge about Mabel’s condition, and for reaching out to his colleagues for support and advice. Yes, he may be a curious fellow who is interested to know more about these creatures, but he is also seeking to heal a sick pet. And he knows it means the world to me.

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