Birds are one of the most popular pets to own after cats and dogs. This includes everything from canaries/finches, budgies, cockatiels, lories, eclectus parrots, African greys, amazons, and macaws. And of course an occasional pet chicken or quail. What many bird owners do not know is what can be done to extend the life and
health of their bird. A little initial research can be very helpful when trying to pick out the best bird for you and help you provide the right environment and husbandry for your bird to live a long happy life. Establishing and utilizing an avian vet during this process can also help in the preparation of a new bird to the household.
From a veterinary perspective, there are a lot of preventive medical care options as well as diagnostics for an ill bird these days. It is sometimes hard to know that a bird is sick because they hide it so well. It is their innate nature to hide any signs of illness, and often, by the time they make it obvious, they are so sick that aggressive medical treatment is needed–and even then, it can sometimes be too late. A yearly physical exam (and twice per year exam on senior birds) is very helpful for monitoring their weight, checking for heart disease (listening for murmurs and arrhythmias), catching respiratory infections early on, looking for gastrointestinal infections before they are clinical, and monitoring the birds nutritional status and organ health. Blood work that can be performed on a routine basis includes complete blood counts (CBC) and chemistry panels. For new birds to a household, I highly recommend psittacosis testing, and consider psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD) testing.
Now what if your bird is sick? I often hear of people being afraid to take the bird out of the house because the stress of travel and a new place may be too much stress and cause the bird to die. However, if the pet goes without medical treatment, most likely the bird will continue to decline. Diagnostics like blood work,radiographs (x-rays), and fecal testing can help to figure out what is wrong with the pet. And there are many options for treatments as well. Fluid support, antibiotics, pain medications, nutritional support, heart medications, hormonal control for chronic egg layers, surgical treatment for wounds and tumor removals, medications to support birds with liver disease, kidney disease, and other chronic illnesses are available.
Contact Caring Hands Animal Hospital to discuss a wellness plan for your bird and recommendations to keep your feathered friend healthy and happy!
By: Dr. Meredith Davis, Caring Hands Animal Hospital