Tumors in a Parakeet

User Question
Your website on parakeets is wonderful. I have a few questions for you. I just found out last night that one of my 2 parakeets (Bill and Ted) has a large tumor. The vet gave him a shot and Ted seems to be feeling better. The vet said that it should help Ted feel better for about a week. Ted is still very feisty and seems to want to be around. I don't want him to suffer, though.

Question #1: Are there any treatments or options that you know of to "cure" Ted? (other than the shot he received which, to the best of my knowledge is not a cure but may help reduce the size of the tumor and prolong his life [which i will continue to do as long as he seems happy, feisty and not in pain])

Question #2: Do you think Ted will let me know when he's ready to go and is suffering so much that i need to consider euthanasia?

Question #3: I know his friend, Bill, will miss Ted when he's gone and was wondering if i should get another parakeet friend for Bill immediately, or if i should give him time to grieve? I have already read a lot of your information about how to introduce them when i do get him a new friend.

Thank you so much for your time and help.

Lisa's Answer
A tumor is cancer, and as you probably know with humans, there is no cure for cancer. Cancer is when a bunch of cells start multiplying out of control and make a big lump. Usually trying to fight cancer involves surgery to remove a lot of the lump, sessions with radiation to slay off the remaining ones, and strong medication. Many humans do not survive cancer, so it is even more hard for a tiny bird where surgery is usually impossible.

It's very hard to know when a parakeet is suffering. Parakeets by their nature hide any illness because predators attack the weakest animals. So a parakeet will do its very best to hide any show of sickness until it is impossible to fake it any more. You might watch for how much he eats, but in essence he will start slowly starving to death as he becomes less and less able to eat. So that's a very hard question to answer.

When to let a pet die is just as hard as when to let a human die - something we humans argue about daily. Some people feel that as long as you're alive, you should be happy. But others feel that living in excruciating pain is not a life to be happy with - that it's better to pass away in peace vs struggling for days in pain. That will have to be a question you figure out with your family, friends and on your own.

I would go for a new parakeet after maybe a week or two. A parakeet that is used to being in a flock will be very confused and lonely without anyone to fweep to. Yes the new bird won't be the same as Ted ... but he will soon become a loved part of your family.

I'm sorry I can't be of more help here, but the choice of when to help a pet pass on it a very personal one.

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NOTE: Because of the huge volume of incoming questions, I no longer answer them one by one. Instead, we have created a live, free Parakeet Forum which is very active, where people are online 24 hours a day to help you with your parakeet related questions. If you have any questions about parakeet care - or simply want to share your parakeet stories and photos - please join us!

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