Avian Renal Disease | Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Kidney disease in Birds

Numerous diseases affect the avians and often bring their lives to danger. One of the most common diseases among them is Kidney disease or failure. 

Avian Renal disease

Any damage, inflammation, or compromise to the kidneys due to toxins, stones, and crystals, infectious disease, or tumors, leads to kidney or renal disease in birds. 

Kidneys are responsible for various important activities of the bird’s body including removal of metabolic wastes, detoxification, and regulation of fluid.

Renal disease may disrupt these functions, affecting the balance of the bird’s body. 

If prolonged, the disease can cause severe damage to the kidneys and other parts of the body, ultimately resulting in kidney failure. But, if the disease is diagnosed and treated at an early stage, it may not be fatal. 

The renal disease in birds is classified in two forms: 

1. Acute Renal disease

An abrupt decline in kidneys’ functions, often due to a toxic or ischemic insult, results in acute renal disease. The disease progresses rapidly and shows lots of symptoms.

2. Chronic Renal disease

This type of renal disease occurs when there is a loss of functional tissue of the kidney owing to a progressed or prolonged disease process.

The disease takes time to progress with a slow rate of appearance of symptoms. 

Related Read: Haemoproteus Columbae in Birds | Lifecycle of the disease, Symptoms, and Treatment

What are the causes of kidney failure or Renal disease in birds?

There are various conditions that can cause kidney failure or renal disease in birds. These causes are mostly classified as renal, postrenal, prerenal, or of mixed origin. 

The prerenal origin includes renal hypoperfusion, a condition of a sudden reduction in the flow of blood in the kidney.

On the other hand, the renal origin is characterized by the excessive decrease in the rate of glomerular filtration. 

The postrenal origin of kidney disorders refers to any kind of disruption of the urinary tract or difficulty in the urine outflow. 

Here are some of the causes of renal disease in birds.

  • Fungal infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Viral infections
  • Parasitic infections
  • Excessive intake of nutrients
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Tumors
  • Colon and Intestinal inflammation
  • Fatty liver 
  • Stones 
  • Intake of toxins
  • Lead poisoning
  • Hereditary defects
  • Dehydration

Related Read: Aspergillosis In Birds: Causes | Symptoms | Treatment | Diagnosis & Prevention

Symptoms of kidney problems in birds

The symptoms of kidney disease or failure are not so specific that owners can easily evident them, especially if it is chronic renal disease.

Therefore, it becomes extremely important for owners to be aware of any changes in their birds’ eating habits, elimination, and behavior. 

Here are some of the symptoms of avian renal disease.

  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Increase in urination
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lameness
  • Swollen or painful body parts
  • Increase in thirst
  • Fewer body movements
  • Disorientation
  • Neurologic signs

How do you treat and diagnose kidney disease in birds?

It is extremely crucial to diagnose the disease before giving any kind of treatment for it. The diagnosis helps to evaluate the actual cause of the disease and find out the right treatment for it.

Diagnosis of Kidney disease in birds

The foremost step in the diagnosis of renal disease is the physical examination of the patient bird and a detailed discussion on symptoms seen in the bird. 

The next step includes a series of tests to be taken to confirm the renal disease and its kind. A single test cannot be trusted to confirm the disease. 

While in multiple tests, each test contributes to taking us one step closer to the identification of actual disease, thus giving more clarity.

The tests that are commonly done for diagnosing renal disease include:

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC)
  • Biochemical assays
  • Serum and plasma analyses
  • Urinalysis
  • Diagnostic Imaging through CT scans, ultrasounds, and X-rays
  • Endoscopic Biopsy
  • Renal Scintigraphy
  • Blood Culture

The tests, such as CBC, serum and plasma analyses, biochemical assays, and urinalysis, help detect the abnormalities in the levels of enzymes, proteins, urea nitrogen, phosphorus, uric acid, electrolytes, creatinine, etc.

These tests also reveal the presence of any infectious agents and toxins in the bird’s body. You can even know about the conditions of anemia or dehydration in the patient bird.

The diagnostic imaging and renal scintigraphy help in finding out the presence of tumors or stones in a bird’s kidney. They contribute to assessing the actual condition of the kidneys. 

The endoscopic evaluation of the bird’s kidneys is done to assess their condition on the cellular level. This definitive diagnostic helps to know the type of renal disease and its cause.

Treatment of kidney disease in birds:

There are various treatments for the renal disease but the selection of the right treatment for a bird’s condition depends on the information gathered from diagnosis. 

In the case of specific issues, therapies are used to treat the disease, but when the cases include incurable conditions, supportive care becomes the only solution to manage them.

Many cases of renal disease are managed by supportive care in the form of fluid or antibiotic therapy.

Medications are given to the patient based on the type and case of the renal disease affecting it. The medications generally include antiviral, anti-parasite, antibiotics, or antifungal drugs. 

Allopurinol is one such drug that is prescribed to reduce uric acid production in the bird.

In cases that include tumors or large stones in birds’ kidneys, surgery is needed to remove them from the kidneys. This is a difficult process as various complications can occur during the surgery. 

If the tumor is cancerous, the treatment gets more extended due to the addition of other treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. 

Related Read: Hexamitiasis In Birds & Poultry | Causes, Life Cycle, Symptoms, Treatment

Renal diet for birds with kidney problems

The diet of the patient bird needs to be altered to support the immune system of the bird and to fix the nutritional imbalances occurring due to the disease.

The nutrients that may get imbalanced during kidney disease are vitamin A, protein, or calcium. 

The diet supplementing these nutrients should be installed.

Ingestion of some of the natural products that provide metabolic support is beneficial to a damaged renal system. One of such natural products is omega fatty acids. 

Omega fatty acids help in managing renal disease through their renal protective properties and lipid stabilizing, antineoplastic, anti-inflammatory effects.

A well-balanced diet should be given to the patient bird according to the nutrient requirements of the bird. Protein-restricted diets should be installed. 

Which are the birds that are usually affected by kidney failure?

All species of birds are prone to kidney failure, however, poultry and birds of prey are usually the most affected birds. These birds are seen to be highly exposed to the conditions causing kidney failure. 


Avian renal disease may harm the bird either acutely or chronically, depending on the causes.

The disease is however manageable if proper diagnosis and the right treatment is given to the bird. Alone the medication or therapy isn’t enough, supportive care is as important for recovery.