The Routine Avian
I think it is safe to say we all want to give our pets the best
possible care and we all want to get the most for our money. Let's look at
what it takes to get the most from an avian examination. You can learn to
work cooperatively with your veterinarian to maximize your avian education
and build a rapport of mutual trust and respect. Everyone benefits from
this, especially your birds. I recommend you have notes prepared with all
your information and all your questions and be prepared to take notes when
you get there.
What Your Veterinarian Can Expect From
First you should be prepared to provide as much history
as you have on your bird. Here is an example of some of the information
you will be asked to provide:
- This includes species, name, sex, band numbers, microchip numbers,
and any unusual identifying features or marks on the bird
- Any available information on the birds parents
- Previous history
- Any information on previous owners and veterinarians
- Current environment
- How the bird is housed, where the cage is located, current diet, any
other pets in the environment, what type of water the bird is drinking,
what types of disinfectant you are using, general husbandry practices
- Observations and symptoms
- The birds temperament and behavior patterns, any unusual symptoms,
condition of droppings, any recent exposure to unusual circumstances or
environmental factors such as stress, chemicals, etc.
Next you will want to have a list of questions prepared. Jot down all
those little things that have popped into your mind as you have observed
the bird and all those little nagging doubts you have had about whether or
not you were making correct decisions along the way.
Here is a list of
things we often do not think to ask:
- Diet and environment
- Does the vet have any suggestions on how you can improve your
current situation or practices? What can you do to improve the quality
and span of your birds life? Should you provide vitamin and mineral
supplements? Is your cage size adequate? What toys are safe for this
species and which should you avoid?
- Learning to properly handle and restrain
- Ask for a demonstration on the proper procedure for pulling a blood
feather should it become necessary. When it is time for the vet to take
swabs or give injections, ask him/her to allow you to hold the bird
during these procedures. Ask to be tutored on how to do this properly.
- Learning to look for trouble
- Ask for a list of things you should be looking for daily in order to
catch the onset of illness or stress in the earliest possible stages.
- Ask for a list of books and other publications that will help you
learn more about your pet. You can also ask about local clubs and
- Dealing with emergencies
- Ask your vet what constitutes an emergency and how and where you can
most quickly find help during holidays and off hours. Ask what supplies
you should have in store for dealing with situations that require home
first aid care.
What You Can Expect From Your
Much of what occurs during a good avian examination is not readily
detectable by you. The vet is getting much information by just looking at
and handling your bird. My vet often sees things that I have missed and I
look at every bird, every day. Here is some of what will occur during a
- Visual assessment
- During this phase of the exam, the vet is assessing the general
appearance of your bird; disposition, posture, wing position, breathing
pattern, skin tone, alertness, feather condition, condition of eyes,
nares, beak, feet, etc.
- Hands-on examination
- This will include a hands-on assessment of the entire bird from top
to tail. It's very interesting to watch. You will see the vet start with
the head and work down, checking eyes, nose, mouth, crop, chest, heart,
lungs, abdomen, legs, feet, etc. Along the way you will notice the vet
looking more closely at skin and feather condition. Skeletal, muscle,
neurological, and gland assessment is occurring also, but is not quite
- Lab work
- Expect the vet to take swabs of the crop and the choanae (oral), and
also from the cloacae (vent). These are extremely important because they
can reveal possible bacterial or fungal infections.
- Possible further testing
- If your bird is sick or injured, you can expect further testing
which may or may not include blood work, culture and sensitivity,
injections or x-rays.
During the examination, ask questions. Ask the vet to comment on what
he/she is doing and why and what the findings are.
If there are
medications prescribed, ask the vet to carefully demonstrate how you
should administer them.
Before leaving, be sure you are satisfied that
all your questions have been answered. Ask the vet if there are questions
you should have asked but did not.
All this may not lessen the amount
of your bill, but it will certainly get you your money's worth and a good
deal of practical education. In time you will become more confident in
your abilities to assess the health of your pet and deal with problems
throughout its life.