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    Potential Goose Health Challenges

    a flock of geese move through a grassy space
    Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals Media

    Updated October 31, 2023

    This resource is currently being reviewed by a member of our staff. As such, only the conditions that have already been reviewed and updated are available below, and we’ll be adding additional health issues as they are reviewed. Stay tuned- we’ll let you know via social media and our newsletter when updates are complete. If you’re not already signed up for our newsletter, you can sign up below! If you are looking for information about a specific health issue that is not listed below and are wondering when that information might be available, feel free to reach out

    Unfortunately for the humans looking out for them, geese tend to hide signs of illness and injury until they are no longer able to do so. In order to catch and respond to health issues as early as possible, you’ll need to spend a lot of time observing and getting to know your residents so you are better able to catch less obvious signs of concern. By conducting regular full body health evaluations, you’ll be able to know what healthy looks and feels (and smells!) like and when you should be concerned. Check out our guide to goose health checks to familiarize yourself with the signs that something may be amiss with a goose resident. For more information on health challenges that commonly affect goslings, check out our resource here.

    Animal Healthcare Disclaimer
    This is not an exhaustive list of everything that can happen to a goose, but can help you get a sense of what challenges a goose under your care may face in their lifetime. If you believe a goose is facing a health issue, always discuss with a qualified veterinarian as soon as possible. Reading about health issues does not qualify you to diagnose your residents!

    Issues By Body System

    Circulatory System: Duck Virus Enteritis (Duck Plague)

    Gastrointestinal System: Duck Virus Enteritis (Duck Plague), Fowl Cholera, Newcastle Disease,

    Musculoskeletal System: Angel Wing (Carpal Valgus), Arthritis, Bumblefoot, Frostbite, Gout

    Neurvous System: Botulism, Duck Virus Enteritis (Duck Plague), Newcastle Disease

    Reproductive System: Avian Influenza, Duck Virus Enteritis (Duck Plague), Egg Binding (Egg-Bound), Egg Yolk Peritonitis/ Coelomitis, Newcastle Disease

    Respiratory System: Aspergillosis, Avian Influenza, Fowl Cholera, Newcastle Disease

    Urinary System: Gout

    Integumentary System: Frostbite

    Sensory System: Fowl Cholera

    Angel Wing (Carpal Valgus)

    The term “angel wing” refers to carpal valgus deformity, a not uncommon condition where a bird’s wing (or wings) droops and then rotates outward. In addition to the term “angel wing,” there are a host of other descriptive terms used to describe this condition including “slipped wing,” “crooked wing,” and “airplane wing.” Primarily affecting growing individuals, angel wing is the result of new feathers developing faster than the musculoskeletal structures necessary to support them. The weight of these new feathers cause the joint to twist. As a result, the affected wing tip(s) is not able to be tucked into a normal position against the body (and when both wings are affected, they may resemble the wings of an airplane or angel, hence some of the common terms for this condition). 

    While there are a number of factors that may contribute to the development of angel wing, nutritional factors, namely high levels of protein and carbohydrates, are a common cause. Genetics, incubation and hatching issues, as well as restricted exercise may also be contributing factors. When caught very early, angel wing can be corrected, but you should consult with a veterinarian to make sure you are taking appropriate corrective measures (while also addressing the underlying cause, if applicable). While bandages and splints are often used to correct angel wing, it is imperative you are shown how to do this correctly as improper technique can have unintended consequences. If not caught early, before the bones have mineralized, the condition will be permanent. While permanent disfiguration of the wing(s) is detrimental in free-living birds since it prevents them from being able to fly, sanctuary residents can live a happy, healthy life with the condition.

    If a resident starts showing signs of angel wing, be sure to consult with your veterinarian immediately, both to determine if the condition is correctable and also to determine the underlying cause. If you welcome a new goose who shows signs of angel wing, consult with your veterinarian to determine if interventions are appropriate or if the condition is permanent. Birds with severe angel wing may need modifications to their living space to prevent them from injuring the affected wing (for example making sure entryways are wide enough for them to fit through without hitting their wing).


    Angel Wing | Blackwell’s Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Avian

    Treating Angel Wing Deformity: A Sling For The Wing | Today’s Veterinary Practice

    Backyard Poultry Medicine and Surgery: A Guide for Veterinary Practitioners(Non-Compassionate Source)

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    Geese can develop various mobility issues, including osteoarthritis (also called degenerative joint disease) and septic arthritis (also called infectious arthritis). 

    Osteoarthritis– This type of arthritis is often associated with advanced age, though it can also occur in younger individuals as well, especially bigger breeds or individuals who are overweight. Signs of osteoarthritis include abnormal gait, bearing weight unevenly when standing, lameness, and reduced activity. You may be able to hear or feel crepitus (grating or crunching) in the hock (this can be more difficult to feel in the knee and hip). Geese with osteoarthritis may spend more time lying down. Preventative measures include ensuring residents are on a healthy diet (and at a healthy weight) and also ensuring residents have ample opportunities to swim. Treatment with analgesics and creating a living space that is easy for arthritic geese to navigate can help keep residents comfortable.

    Septic Arthritis– Septic arthritis is inflammation of the joint(s) due to introduction of an infectious agent, which may result following septicemia or a localized infection of the joint. In some cases, the joint may be red, swollen, hot, and possibly open and oozing. However, in other cases, there may not be obvious outward signs of infection, such as heat or significant swelling, and the individual may look like they have a non-infectious mobility issue. Be sure to work closely with your veterinarian if a resident is showing signs of mobility issues and to discuss the possibility of septic arthritis. While your veterinarian may decide to tap the joint during their physical evaluation, this should not be attempted by anyone other than a veterinary professional- doing so could introduce bacteria into the joint and/or damage the internal structures of the joint, causing further issues. A veterinary diagnosis is imperative. Caregivers sometimes confuse clinical signs of gout with infection, and the two conditions require different treatments, so be sure to work closely with your veterinarian. Septic arthritis can be difficult to treat and typically requires prolonged systemic antibiotic treatment along with analgesics. Regional limb perfusion or the use of antibiotic-soaked gauze or impregnated beads may be recommended to deliver the antibiotics to the infected joint. Septic arthritis can cause permanent joint damage and predispose the individual to degenerative joint disease. Even following resolution of the infection, the individual may continue to have mobility issues and may require ongoing analgesics.


    Geriatric Diseases of Pet Birds | Merck Veterinary Manual

    Backyard Poultry Medicine and Surgery: A Guide for Veterinary Practitioners (Non-Compassionate Source)

    Backyard Waterfowl Medicine | M. Scott Echols DVM, DABVP (Avian Practice) The Medical Center for Birds Oakley, CA (Non-Compassionate Source)

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    Aspergillosis is a non-contagious fungal disease that typically manifests as respiratory illness in birds. While there are numerous species of Aspergillus, Aspergillus fumigatus, a ubiquitous soil fungus, is the most common cause in chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese. Aspergillosis is an opportunistic infection – while birds are constantly exposed to fungal spores, often without developing disease, immunosuppression (such as from stress, corticosteroid use, disease, or malnutrition) and being exposed to large numbers of aerosolized spores may result in disease. Poor ventilation, unsanitary conditions, wet bedding, moldy food, and warm, humid conditions increase the risk of aspergillosis. Therefore, you can help protect your residents by properly storing food, keeping living spaces clean and well ventilated, and ensuring spaces do not become warm and humid. Straw bedding can harbor mold and fungus, so wood shavings or other non-straw (and non-hay) bedding is a better option if aspergillosis is a concern. 

    Aspergillosis typically causes acute signs in young birds (often called “brooder pneumonia”) and a more chronic condition in older birds. Signs of aspergillosis include open-mouth breathing, labored breathing, tail bobbing, gasping, and an elevated respiratory rate. Other signs include inappetence and lethargy. Be sure to contact your veterinarian if you suspect aspergillosis. Diagnosis can be challenging, so be sure to work with your veterinarian to see what diagnostics they recommend. Treatment is also challenging and often requires aggressive and prolonged antifungal treatment (such as with itraconazole) as well as supportive care. In addition to treatment, be sure to take steps to reduce your residents’ exposure to spores by keeping living spaces dry, ensuring food and bedding are not wet or moldy, switching from straw to a safer bedding option, and improving ventilation.


    Aspergillosis | Niles Animal Hospital And Bird Medical Center

    Mycotic Diseases of Pet Birds | Merck Veterinary Manual

    Current Therapy In Avian Medicine And Surgery | Brian L. Speer

    Diseases Of Poultry 13th Edition | David E. Swayne (Non-Compassionate Source)

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    Avian Influenza (Or, “Bird Flu”)

    The term “avian influenza” refers to any disease or infection in birds that is caused by Type A influenza viruses. Free-flying aquatic birds (such as migratory waterfowl and shorebirds) are the natural host of Type A influenza viruses, but these viruses can also affect domesticated farmed birds and other bird species. To read more about avian influenza (AI) check out our resource here.

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    Botulism is more common in waterfowl than other farmed bird species. It is caused by ingestion of neurotoxins produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. While this bacteria is found in the environment without causing issues, under certain conditions the bacteria multiplies and produces toxins. Common sources of these toxins are decaying vegetation and carcasses, as well as maggots feeding on decaying matter. Signs of botulism include progression from weakness to flaccid paralysis of legs, wings, neck, and eyelids. Botulism is sometimes called “limberneck” due to the neck paralysis associated with the disease. The feathers on the neck may also become loose and come out easily. The time between ingestion of the neurotoxin and onset of clinical signs, as well as the severity of those signs, is dependent on the amount of toxin ingested. High doses of toxin can result in clinical signs developing within hours, whereas clinical signs may take a few days to develop if lower doses are ingested. High levels of the toxin are lethal, resulting in respiratory paralysis. Treatment includes prompt administration of antitoxin and supportive care. If botulism is suspected, in addition to seeking urgent veterinary care, it is important to identify the source of the toxin and prevent residents from further access. Prevention includes keeping residents away from decaying foods and carcasses, ensuring they have ready access to fresh food and water, and keeping swimming water safe by aerating small bodies of water and regularly changing swimming water provided in pools or tubs.


    Botulism In Poultry | Poultry Extension

    Botulism In Poultry | Merck Veterinary Manual (Non-Compassionate Source)

    Backyard Waterfowl Medicine | M. Scott Echols DVM, DABVP (Avian Practice) The Medical Center for Birds Oakley, CA (Non-Compassionate Source)

    Backyard Poultry Medicine and Surgery: A Guide for Veterinary Practitioners (Non-Compassionate Source)

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    Bumblefoot can be caused by many different factors including environmental conditions (such as poor sanitation, rough or hard flooring, or not having water for swimming) or physical conditions (such as obesity or arthritis). Individuals who favor one foot over the other, due to pain or a mechanical leg issue, may develop bumblefoot on their “good” side. Because this foot has to bear more weight, the skin can become damaged over time. Without proper interventions, bumblefoot can progress from a minor issue to something far more severe.

    Bumblefoot is typically categorized as mild, moderate, or severe, with severe cases involving infection in the bone (osteomyelitis). The following 1-5 grading system gives a good overview of the progression of this disease and how it affects the overall prognosis, but be aware that your veterinarian may use a different grading system to evaluate and talk about bumblefoot.

    Grade 1– At this stage, only the outer skin is affected. It may be very smooth, and it may also be shiny and red, but there is no open wound or sign of infection. With proper interventions, prognosis at this stage is excellent.

    Grade 2– At this stage, there is damage to the skin and there may be a scab, callous, or open wound, but the foot will not be obviously swollen. With proper interventions, prognosis at this stage is good.

    Grade 3– At this stage, the disease process, and possibly infection, have progressed deeper into the tissues of the foot. The foot will be swollen and painful, and there may be discharge. Prognosis at this stage is good to guarded.

    Grade 4– At this stage, the infection has progressed to involve deeper structures within the foot such as tendons and bone. Individuals with this stage of disease may develop tenosynovitis (inflammation of the tendon sheath), arthritis, and/ or osteomyelitis. Prognosis at this stage is guarded to poor.

    Grade 5– At this stage, the condition is so severe that it results in debilitating deformity and loss of function. Prognosis at this stage is grave.

    It is important to address bumblefoot early before it becomes actively infected and to prevent the introduction of bacteria by keeping the area clean and covered. However, it’s important to note that wrapping webbed feet must be done carefully, so as not to damage the delicate webbing. Depending on the underlying cause, when caught early, foot wraps and changes to the environment may be enough to prevent progression if there is no infection. However, if the primary cause is osteoarthritis in the opposite limb, it can be difficult to fully resolve bumblefoot and have the skin of the foot completely heal.

    Be sure to work with a veterinarian if one of your residents has bumblefoot, especially if the affected foot is warmer than normal, painful, or swollen, or if it has discharge, an open wound, or a large scab. Your veterinarian can assess the foot to determine how severe the condition is (which may require x-rays), prescribe appropriate medications, and help create a treatment plan. Depending on the severity, treatment may include systemic antibiotics, analgesics, soaking the foot, various types of foot wraps, delivery of antibiotics directly to the affected area (for example, through the use of antibiotic-impregnated beads), and in some cases, surgical debridement (done by a licensed veterinarian with appropriate analgesics and anesthetics). Keep in mind that the individual’s good foot may be vulnerable to developing bumblefoot if they are especially painful and reluctant to bear weight on the affected foot. Be sure to keep a close eye on the other foot and protect it with a padded bandage as needed.

    It is important to work with a veterinarian to determine which structures of the foot are affected, to establish an appropriate treatment plan, and if the treatment involves wound management or wrapping the foot, you must be shown how to do this properly. Left untreated, bumblefoot infections can have devastating consequences.


    Geriatric Diseases of Pet Birds | Merck Veterinary Manual

    Pododermatitis In Birds And Small Mammals | Schoemaker and Van Zeeland

    Bumblefoot Surgery And Management | Great Western Exotic Vets

    A Multifaceted Approach to the Treatment of Bumblefoot in Raptors | J. David Remple (Non-Compassionate Source)

    Backyard Waterfowl Medicine | M. Scott Echols DVM, DABVP (Avian Practice) The Medical Center for Birds Oakley, CA (Non-Compassionate Source)

    Backyard Poultry Medicine and Surgery: A Guide for Veterinary Practitioners (Non-Compassionate Source)

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    Duck Virus Enteritis

    Duck virus enteritis (DVE) is a contagious and often fatal disease that, despite the name, affects geese and swans, in addition to ducks. DVE is caused by a herpes virus and is sometimes referred to as “Duck Plague.” Unfortunately, most of the available information about DVE is focused on ducks – we were not able to find any veterinary sources that focused on DVE in geese specifically. Even sources that mentioned geese and swans still focused on ducks when discussing details of the disease. Because of this, we’ve included some duck-focused information in order to provide a fuller description of the disease and how it can affect susceptible birds. While ducks, geese, and swans of all ages can become infected, in ducks, mortality rates are typically higher in adults than in ducklings. DVE can be transmitted via direct contact with infected birds or from contact with a contaminated environment. Water can play a significant role in transmission, particularly if residents have access to bodies of water that wild waterfowl also have access to. Clinical signs of disease develop 3-7 days after exposure to the virus and vary depending on many factors, including the age of the individual and the strain of the virus. Though sources we found suggest that clinical signs vary depending on the species affected, when discussing clinical signs of disease, they only discussed ducks. In mature ducks, clinical signs include sensitivity to light (manifested as half-closed eyes), inappetence, extreme thirst, ruffled feathers, droopiness with outstretched wings, sluggishness, ataxia, inability to stand, nasal discharge, watery or bloody diarrhea, and a dirty vent area. In actively laying females, a sharp drop in egg laying may occur. In sick ducks, head, neck, and body tremors may be observed if the individual is forced to move. In some cases, the first sign of disease may be sudden death. Deceased birds may have blood coming from their nares and blood-stained feathers around their vent. Deceased males may have a prolapsed phallus. Signs of DVE in ducklings include dehydration, weight loss, bloody feathers around the vent, a blue color to the bill, and nasal and ocular discharge. Ducklings infected with a low virulent strain often develop secondary bacterial infections with Pasteurella multocida, Riemerella anatipestifer, or E. coli

    Unfortunately, there is no treatment for DVE and birds showing clinical signs of disease often die. Birds who survive can become carriers and shed the virus intermittently. Prevention is key – in addition to following proper intake and quarantine procedures for new residents, avoiding situations where goose residents come into contact (directly or indirectly) with wild waterfowl can reduce their risk of being exposed to DVE. There is a vaccine available to protect against DVE. We suggest talking to your veterinarian about the most appropriate vaccine protocols for your residents. In addition to being used as a preventative measure against DVE, the vaccine can also be used during an outbreak to limit disease spread. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect DVE, and isolate individuals who are showing signs of disease.


    Diseases Of Poultry, 13th Edition | David E. Swayne (Non-Compassionate Source)

    Duck Viral Enteritis | Merck Veterinary Manual (Non-Compassionate Source)

    Duck Plague | Penn Vet (Non-Compassionate Source)

    Duck Virus Enteritis | OIE Terrestrial Manual 2018 (Non-Compassionate Source)

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    Egg Binding (Egg-Bound)

    A goose who is egg-bound has an egg stuck in her oviduct. Typical signs of egg binding include obvious straining, squatting, standing up oddly tall, open-mouthed breathing (from the pain and stress of pushing), and a lack of appetite, though sometimes the only sign something is wrong is that they are isolating themselves or not quite acting like themself. Egg-binding can lead to cloacal prolapse, a potentially fatal condition. Do not cut the bird to get the egg out, or break the egg. In some instances, holding the goose in a warm bath can help her to pass the egg.  However, this doesn’t always work, so watch the goose closely, and if she does not pass the egg while in the bath, or if her symptoms worsen at all, take her to the veterinarian as soon as possible- if left untreated, egg-binding can be fatal. If you suspect a goose is egg-bound but she is not showing any of the more serious symptoms described above, you can place her in an area with a safe heat source such as a heating pad or snuggle safe heat disc- always have a towel or other fabric between the bird and the heat source, make sure the space is set up so that the goose can move away from the heat source if needed, and also make sure that they are well enough to move themselves away from the heat if desired. Talk to your veterinarian about providing an oral vitamin and probiotic supplement made specifically for birds and adding additional oral calcium to their diet during this time. If, over the course of the next 24 hours, the goose has not passed an egg or if she becomes progressively painful, she should be examined by a veterinarian.


    Backyard Poultry Medicine and Surgery: A Guide for Veterinary Practitioners (Non-Compassionate Source)

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    Egg Yolk Peritonitis/ Coelomitis

    Peritonitis is inflammation of the peritoneum (the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity). Egg Yolk Peritonitis (also called EYP or Egg Peritonitis) occurs when there is egg material present in a bird’s abdomen causing the inflammation. Egg material can enter the abdomen in various ways, either from being released from the ovary directly into the abdomen, by being expelled back out of the oviduct for some reason, or from a ruptured oviduct (often due to a severe oviductal impaction). Bacteria quickly grow in the resultant environment. Depending on the underlying cause of the inflammation/infection, it is not uncommon for the bird to make a full recovery with appropriate treatment, especially if there was not an underlying infectious process causing the issue. On a veterinarian’s recommendation, Egg Yolk Peritonitis can be treated with intervention (draining of abdominal fluid), antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and potentially Suprelorin implantation to give them time to recover, though prognosis is highly dependent on what caused the egg material to end up in their abdomen in the first place. If abdominal fluid is collected, it can be cultured to identify bacterial causes and to determine what drugs the bacteria are susceptible to. It’s a good idea to request a complete blood panel if egg yolk peritonitis is suspected.


    Coelomitis in Birds | Brian Speer, DVM, DABVP (Avian Practice), DECZM (Avian) Medical Center for Birds, Oakley, CA, USA

    Backyard Waterfowl Medicine | M. Scott Echols DVM, DABVP (Avian Practice) The Medical Center for Birds Oakley, CA (Non-Compassionate Source)

    Backyard Poultry Medicine and Surgery: A Guide for Veterinary Practitioners (Non-Compassionate Source)

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    Fowl Cholera

    Caused by Pasteurella multocida, fowl cholera is a contagious bacterial disease that can affect both wild and domesticated bird species, including turkeys, ducks, geese, and chickens. Fowl cholera typically occurs in late summer, fall, or winter, and can manifest as acute, chronic, or asymptomatic infection. Acute infection is often fatal, and unfortunately, signs of illness usually only manifest a few hours before death. Signs of acute fowl cholera include fever, inappetence, increased respiratory rate, puffy feathers, and oral mucous discharge. Cyanosis is typically seen at the end stages. Individuals will also have diarrhea, which starts out whitish and watery and later contains mucous and turns a greenish color. Individuals who survive an acute infection may remain chronically infected. P. multocida strains with low virulence may cause chronic infection without acute infection. Signs of chronic infection may include swelling of the sinuses, foot pads, along the keel, or in the joints of the wing or legs. If infection in the ear occurs, the individual may develop torticollis (wry neck). Respiratory infection may cause open-mouth breathing and tracheal rales.

    P. multocida can be introduced to a flock by an asymptomatic or chronically infected individual, but it’s also possible for wild birds to transmit this infection to sanctuary residents if they are able to come into contact with one another. While some mammalian farmed animal species can be carriers of P. multocida, according to Diseases of Poultry, 13th Edition, these organisms do not typically cause disease in farmed bird species, with the exception of P. multocida from pigs. 

    Infected individuals spread the bacteria in discharge from the eyes, nares, or mouth, which then contaminates the environment as well as food and water sources. The bacteria can also be spread in feces of infected birds. Contact your veterinarian right away if you suspect a resident has fowl cholera. Diagnosis is confirmed with bacterial culture. Your veterinarian can recommend treatment, but successful treatment is dependent on how early and aggressively treatment is initiated and whether or not other infections are present. There are vaccines available, but these do not offer complete protection. Be sure to talk to your veterinarian about whether or not vaccination is recommended and which vaccine is most appropriate. In the environment, the bacteria can be killed by sunlight, heat, drying, and common disinfectants.


    Fowl Cholera | Merck Veterinary Manual (Non-Compassionate Source)

    Diseases Of Poultry 13th Edition | David E. Swayne (Non-Compassionate Source)

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    Frostbite is a localized injury resulting from freezing and thawing of tissues. In geese who have a knob (prominent bump at the base of their upper bill), this area can be particularly vulnerable to frostbite. The toes are another area that is most commonly affected, though in extreme cases a goose’s entire foot and leg can also be affected. While proper housing and practices that protect residents from freezing temperatures can help prevent frostbite in sanctuary residents, it is not uncommon for farmed animal sanctuaries in colder climates to rescue individuals who are suffering from frostbite. Additionally, certain circumstances may result in a current resident developing a mild case of frostbite, despite a caregiver’s best efforts. An unexpected loss of power or period of unprecedented cold could put residents at risk of frostbite, and certain health challenges could increase an individual’s risk of developing frostbite.

    To understand frostbite, it’s helpful to first understand what happens in the avian body as temperatures drop. If environmental temperature drops to the point where a bird is unable to maintain a stable internal body temperature, heat will be conserved in the vital organs, sometimes to the detriment of the extremities. This is achieved through constriction of the blood vessels in the bird’s extremities with regular, intermittent dilation of the blood vessels (known as the hunting reflex) to keep tissue viable. However, if the bird’s body temperature continues to drop, this necessary dilation of blood vessels stops. Both the direct freezing injury and inadequate blood supply (ischemia) result in damage to the tissue, though according to Dr. James Whellehan, DVM, of these, the damage caused by resultant ischemic injury is typically more severe. Frostbite can result in necrosis and loss of portions of the extremities, though it can take weeks for the line of demarcation between viable and necrotic tissue to develop.

    If the knob is affected, you’ll notice discoloration in the area (for example, if the knob is normally black, it may turn orange in the frostbitten area). If the toes, feet, or legs are affected, they may initially appear red and swollen, then darken in color to gray, purple, or even black. Depending on the extent of the damage, affected tissue may die, ultimately becoming hard, black, and cold. In some cases, just the outer layers of tissue are affected, but in more advanced cases, the deeper tissues are also affected, in which case loss of portions of the extremity will occur and will not grow back. Preservation of tissue is most likely if frostbite is caught early and treatment is started immediately.

    If you suspect a goose has frostbite, be sure to keep them in a warm living space and work closely with your veterinarian. Please note that while it was once recommended to massage the affected area, this is likely to cause further trauma. If an individual developed frostbite at your sanctuary (versus a new rescue who arrives with frostbite), be sure to check others living in the same space and take steps to keep the space warmer, drier, and better ventilated.

    Your veterinarian can make specific recommendations for individuals with frostbite depending on the area affected and the suspected extent of the damage (remember, it takes weeks to fully understand the extent of the damage). Frostbite is painful, so at minimum, they will likely prescribe pain medications but may feel additional treatments, such as antibiotics to prevent or manage secondary infection, are necessary. If caught early, before there are obvious signs of necrosis, particularly if toes, feet, or legs are affected, your veterinarian may recommend treatments that can reduce the chances of limb loss. In cases where the extent of the damage is likely to cause loss of portions of extremities, your veterinarian can advise you regarding the best way to support the individual during this process (both in terms of keeping them comfortable and preventing secondary infection). They can also determine if surgical amputation is advised.


    Frostbite In Birds: Pathophysiology And Treatment | James F. X. Wellehan, DVM, MS

    African Goose | The Livestock Conservancy (Non-Compassionate Source)

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    Gout is caused by hyperuricemia, an excess of uric acid in the blood, which can develop if a goose produces more uric acid than their kidneys can excrete or if they have kidney issues that impair their ability to excrete uric acid normally. This results in uric acid deposits within the body. There are two forms of gout that affect birds – visceral and articular gout.

    Visceral Gout– Geese with visceral gout develop uric acid deposits around their visceral organs. Common areas affected include the liver, spleen, and pericardium. Possible signs of visceral gout include lethargy, poor appetite, weight loss, ruffled feathers, and abnormal droppings. However, individuals with visceral gout may die suddenly without showing obvious clinical signs and a diagnosis of visceral gout may be made during a post-mortem examination.

    Articular Gout– Geese with articular gout develop uric acid buildup in their joints, typically in their feet, resulting in soft, painful swelling. Articular gout is sometimes mistaken for bumblefoot, but a key difference is that swelling from articular gout will not be hot. Your veterinarian may take a sample of the material for diagnostic purposes, but you should not attempt to drain affected areas yourself.

    Individuals showing any of the signs listed above should be seen by a veterinarian for evaluation. There are a variety of factors that can contribute to the development of gout, including dietary-related issues (ex. prolonged vitamin A deficiency, excess dietary calcium, diets with excessively high levels of protein), infectious diseases that result in kidney damage, and toxins (ex. mycotoxins, certain antibiotics, overdose of insecticides or disinfectants). Your veterinarian can recommend further diagnostics and appropriate treatment which may include fluid therapy, medications to manage hyperuricemia (such as allopurinol and colchicine), and possible dietary changes and/or supplementation (such as with vitamin A). Treatment will depend on the specific situation, so be sure to defer to your veterinarian. In the case of articular gout, your veterinarian may also recommend surgery. This is a painful procedure that can result in profuse bleeding and secondary infection and should only be done by a licensed veterinarian using appropriate anesthetics and analgesics.


    Avian Renal Disease: Pathogenesis, Diagnosis, And Therapy | Michael Lierz, Dr. Med. Vet.

    Evaluating And Treating The Kidneys | M. Scott Echols, DVM, Dipl ABVP- Avian

    Gout Management in Poultry | The Poultry Site (Non-Compassionate Source)

    Avian Urolithiasis (Visceral Gout): An Overview | The Poultry Site (Non-Compassionate Source)

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    Newcastle Disease

    This is a highly contagious viral disease that is a worldwide problem and primarily presents as an acute respiratory disease. Severity of disease is based on many factors including the virulence of the virus. The World Organisation For Animal Health (OIE) describes three forms of the disease: lentogenic (or mild), mesogenic (or moderate), and velogenic (or very virulent). Lentogenic strains, while widespread, cause few disease outbreaks, according to the OIE, and are not reportable. Virulent Newcastle disease (vND, sometimes referred to as Exotic Newcastle disease) is a reportable disease. Infected birds will shed the virus in their respiratory discharges and feces. It can also be present in eggs that are laid by infected birds. Birds may become infected through direct contact with infected birds or by coming into contact with food, water, equipment, or other fomites contaminated with the virus. 

    Clinical signs typically appear 2-12 days after exposure, with the average being 5 days following exposure. There are different forms of this disease which affect different areas of the bird’s body. Respiratory signs can include coughing, sneezing, gasping for air, and audible and abnormal breathing sounds. Very young birds as well as older birds with a weakened immune system are the most severely affected. Nervous signs may include depression, paralysis, tremors, and circling. In females who are actively laying, they may lay abnormal eggs, lay fewer eggs, or stop laying all together. Typical signs of vND include respiratory illness, watery green diarrhea, depression, and swelling of the tissues of the head and neck.

    In addition to the concern regarding how vND would affect your residents if they became infected, is the concern regarding how your residents could be affected by regional efforts to eradicate the disease. During a recent outbreak of vND in California (2018-2020), immediate efforts to contain the disease included quarantining affected areas and compulsory mass killings of birds regardless of whether or not they had actually been infected. After push back from the community, some exemptions were granted for birds who were not showing symptoms of disease so long as their human companion kept them indoors where they could not come into contact with other birds, agreed to regular vND testing, and agreed not to move them out of the area. These exemptions were made on a case-by-case basis, but the important point is that they became available because people advocated for birds who had not been infected to be spared. When faced with a decision that you are uncomfortable with, always reach out to veterinarians or sanctuaries to figure out if there are other options that may be available, and always advocate for your residents. We recommend you pay attention to vND outbreaks and have a plan in place to protect your residents should it be detected in your area. Vaccines are available for this disease but are not typically recommended in a sanctuary and are not guaranteed to prevent infection.


    Newcastle Disease | World Organisation For Animal Health (Non-Compassionate Source)

    Newcastle Disease in Poultry | Merck Veterinary Manual (Non-Compassionate Source)

    Diseases Of Poultry 13th Edition | David E. Swayne (Non-Compassionate Source)

    Virulent Newcastle Disease (vND) | USDA APHIS (Non-Compassionate Source)

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