Keeping your feathered friend healthy means regularly checking up on their health. Although pet bird owners may do as much research and think they know what is best for their pet bird’s health, it is important for you to know how to choose an avian vet to do a check up so pet birds can have a healthy and happy life.
In this blog post we will discuss why people decide not to take their pets to the vet, why take your pet to the veterinarian, when to go to a bird veterinarian, how to decide on a bird veterinarian, questions to ask them, a few tips on how to take care of a pet bird, and a few fun facts about veterinarians.
We hope some of this brief information will help you and your feathered friend!
Why people don’t visit veterinarians
Only 12.4 percent of bird owners take their birds to veterinarians. This could be because they are extraordinarily healthy creatures, bird owners are overconfident in their feathered friend’s health, or because pet owners like to neglect their parrot birds. 12.4 percent of bird owners is not very much! So it may be that these three are the result of low veterinary rates.
A perceived low value in taking their birds to the veterinarian is many times a culprit. Ignoring preventative well-bird exams can be seen as a form of procrastination, but as we all know the more we procrastinate things the worse things can get. The low value or the low urgency perceived will only make the actual monetary and time cost more.
Money is another reason why many bird owners do not take their pet birds to the veterinarian. A basic pet bird insurance plan and taking a bit of time can reduce the future monetary and time cost that will inevitably come, as long as the pet bird owner is proactive in these things.
Lack of effort and lack of care go hand in hand. Many times bird owners just neglect the little birds and leave them in cages. It may be unlikely that these bird owners take their birds to the veterinarian. Two more reasons include the fear of bird veterinarians (or a distrust) and looking into alternatives. The fear and distrust towards bird veterinarians comes from bird owners now researching and deciding for themselves what is best for their bird’s health.
The search for alternatives is strengthened because both veterinarians and pet owners focus on pet illness rather than pet wellness. The services veterinarians offer, like all tools needed for the well-being of a bird, should be seen as tools at our disposal to proactively use. It is also just a good idea for pet owners health too, because many of the diseases humans have come from animals.
Providing your bird with plenty of exercise and healthy food are many times seen as alternatives, they are without a second of doubt crucial, but veterinary check ups are important as well. Nearly 60% of birds show signs of malnutrition when bird autopsies are performed. Consider purchasing our healthy and tropically flavored, Feast on the Fly mix.
Why it is important to take your bird to a vet
Knowing how to choose an avian vet is the easy part. Going to a parrot veterinarian is the task at hand we should focus on. It is recommended that pet bird owners in all stages, whether you just bought one or have had one for 70 years. A bird veterinarian can do a few of the following things: check the conditions of your feathered friend’s cage and general environment, let you know about normal or abnormal bird behavior, remove parasites that can be transmitted to humans, offer nutritional advice, and finally to prevent diseases that may occur throughout your avian friend’s lifetime (remember it is better to be proactive to preemptively avoid diseases).
Parrots in general are pretty good at hiding illnesses they may have, especially if you have not had one before. We go over a few common symptoms birds express when they are sick below.
When to go to a bird veterinarian
Once you figured out how to choose an avian vet in your area, it is recommended you take your pet bird to an avian veterinarian once a year. There are a few telltale signs that will scream out at you to take your bird to the veterinarian, while other symptoms are a bit more subtle. Please take note if:
- your bird friend sits still most of the day with its feathers puffed up
- their favorite food is untouched after a day of not eating
- their eyes are closed for much of the day or if they look as if they are in pain because of it
- your friend has a runny nose for several days
- he or she is sleeping a lot
- you have noticed an extreme weight loss
- there are many dull feathers
How to choose an avian vet
Finding a good veterinarian can often be a daunting process. Bird owners many times are afraid they might be worse off going to a veterinarian because their bird friend might even contract a disease. These fears are not justified, and there are a few things bird owners can check for before going to a veterinarian that can put some fears aside.
First of all it is recommended that pet owners check if their future veterinarian is a member of the Association of Avian Veterinarians. Bird owners should also call other veterinarians or pet stores to try to get referrals for the prospective veterinarian. Asking how many birds the veterinarian sees per month is also a good idea to gauge if they have a steady stream of birds coming through.
If you have time you should also do a quick tour around the veterinarian’s practice. Checking if it looks clean, seeing if the animals look comfortable, and if there is or isn’t clutter around the practice. You may also want to ask family, friends, coworkers, or your bird club (if you’re a member of one).
Questions to ask an avian veterinarian
So you have decided to go to a vet, you now know how to choose an avian vet, maybe you have scheduled an appointment and are wondering what questions you should ask. Here are just a few questions to politely ask an avian veterinarian:
- Do you have experience with working with the species of my bird (cockatiel, African grey, macaw etc.)?
- How much do you charge for a general check up?
- What type of animal do you specialize in?
- Do you make house calls? Is there an emergency number that I can call?
- Are you open to payment plans in case of a surgery?
- Are you accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association?
How to take care of a pet bird
Usually a minimum of one hour a day of play is recommended for our bird friends, but minimums are not goals. Flying around while supervised, letting them perch on your figure, and gently patting the feathered friend are a few ways of gently playing with your bird. “Warm potato” can be played to make your feathered friend accustomed to your family or roommates. This game gathers everyone in your home while every takes turns whistling or singing with the beloved bird, teaching new tricks, words, or even just letting your friend be near everyone.
Just like the guy that lived in a glass pane house in the middle of a city while nude for some time, birds feel exposed when they are near windows. It is a common misconception that we think they like the openness of a window. They might however if they have somewhere to hide, so it is recommended that either toys canopy around the cage or that a towel cover part of the cage so they can have some alone time whenever they please. The species of your bird will affect how much your bird is bothered by being without shelter this is because some birds feed at the bottom of trees while other at the top of trees, and others in plains.
Your companion will need to bath at different frequencies depending on the species of your bird, please check with your veterinarian. The natural environment of your bird affects how much oil your bird will produce to clean its feathers, other influences include their diets (too fatty or not too fatty) and our hands that are usually greasy from either food or our own natural oil. It is recommended we always wash our hands before handling our feathered friends.
Another condition to watch out for is “toe tapping” that is seen when parrots extend and contract their toes repetitively. According to Laurella Desborough & Brian L. Speer, DVM. Dip, ABVP, ECAMS, “Many of the birds with combined clinical signs beyond simple “Toe Tapping” will continue to progress in severity, and other disease processes can be identified with time or at necropsy that can explain the clinical signs more clearly.” If your feathered friend is experiencing other symptoms along with toe tapping, this may mean a progressively worsening health.
If you have seen these signs in your pet companion, remove all pellets, vitamin powders, vitaminized seed mixes, spirulina, any man-made vitamins, bread mixes, pasta, pizza, chemical and preservative-containing food. Vitamins that are usually gotten from synthetic man-made sources should also be removed, they must be taken from natural sources such as fruits, grains, vegetables, to prevent this symptom.
Other causes for top tapping can be heavy metal toxicosis, fungal or bacterial dermatisis, nutritional imbalances, renal disease, Vitamin E deficiency, or an Omega fatty acid imbalance. It is required that your bird see a veterinarian.
Please do make sure food is removed before it goes bad (this is usually about 1½ to 2 hours after serving), bacteria and fungi can grow in your bird friend’s food and the food bowl itself (do remember to clean the food bowl frequently).
Finally how to take care of your pet bird depends on veterinary appointments. They should be made regularly at least once a year. Veterinarians may provide vaccinations, examinations for parasites or yeast infection, blood testing, or nail trimming as well as tips and advice for general care.
A few fun facts about pet bird and veterinarians
The first archaeological evidence of veterinary medicine can be traced back to around 3000 B.C. in France. It’s an old profession!
Veterinarians here in the U.S. played a central role in largely eliminating malaria by 1951.
After graduating veterinary medical school, veterinarians take an oath swearing they will relieve animal suffering, promote public health, to practice conscientiously, with dignity, and following veterinary medical ethics.
And as always please do leave a comment, share this post on how to choose an avian vet, and let us know what you think. We love hearing from our flock, it gives us wings! Have a wonderful day.