The Flying Vet's Pigeon Health and Management

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Tippler Subject Category: 

By: Dr Colin Walker
Date: Unknown
Category: Health

Dr. Colin Walker B.V.Sc , B.Sc , M.R.C.V.S

Epsom salts is the common name for an electrolyte (or salt)combination,
magnesium sulphate (MgSO4).It has been used by pigeon fanciers for many
years to "clean the birds out" and in some way promote health. when
electrolytes or salts are given orally, fluid moves across the bowel wall to
make the concentration of these the same on either side. This natural
mechanism is a protective device that re-establishes normal salt
concentrations in body fluids if dehydration occurs. With dehydration , body
salts become concentrated and so, after drinking, fluid is quickly absorbed
from the bowel into the body, diluting the body salts so that normal healthy
levels are re-established.

When we give a concentrated salt solution, such as Epsom salts, to a healthy
bird, the opposite happens. Fluid rushes from the body into the bowel,
attempting to dilute the salts there. As a result the bowel fills with
fluid, in the process dehydrating the bird. The resultant watery droppings
is made up of the healthy body's normal fluid. Prolonged supplementation
with concentrated salts leads to profound dehydration, irreversible kidney
damage and death. This is why people and animals that drink seawater
eventually die. It is a myth that the administration of a concentrated salt
solution in some way cleans out the birds and , in fact, it moves away from
what we are trying to achieve in that it makes the birds deliberately
unwell. It is likely that the birds of fanciers who extol its benefits do
well despite what their owners have put them through. The use of such salt
solutions should be discouraged.