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Leading to a longer life – Avian Vet visits – Pet Planet Magazine

Leading to a longer life – Avian Vet visits

By on December 6, 2012

In my twenty-five plus years as an Avian Vet, I have

seen many birds die unnecessarily. The best way to

keep your bird healthy is by having regular checkups.

Most pet bird owners do not realize that the majority

of pet birds we see with illnesses are seen on an

emergency basis, and could have been prevented by

having regular examinations for the following reasons:


1.Most birds due not live to see old age. Birds tend

to have problems throughout their life span, while

other common pets such as dogs and cats incur serious

illnesses later in life. In addition, most large birds

have a life span that is much longer than that of a

dog or cat. The health status of birds therefore needs

to be addressed throughout their lifetime.


2. Birds are more susceptible to bacterial infections

than other animals. They have a complex respiratory

system, breathe in seven times more air then other

animals and have air sacs coming off the lungs that

spread throughout their body. Unique among the pet

animals, birds do not filter the air they breathe in,

which causes them to be more susceptible to infectious

diseases that can lead to early mortality.


3. Unlike other animals that can go without food for a

long period of time, birds have a minimal energy

reserve due to their small size and rapid metabolism.

Therefore, addressing their problems early on is



4. Most birds are flock animals. In nature when a

flock animal gets sick or injured it becomes easy

prey. Birds have learned from this to hide their

illnesses. Unlike cats and dogs that show illness by

visible behavioral changes, birds on the other hand

attempt to cover them up. Bird owners frequently do

not realize their bird has been sick for weeks or even

months because they are acting healthy. By the time

the illness becomes apparent, the disease can progress

to the point where it can be life threatening. After

people notice their bird is sick, an owner will often

wait a couple of days to see if the bird’s condition

will improve. The bird at this point could be

critically ill or near death. The early recognition of

changes in the birds behavior or in signs of illness,

therefore, maybe best handled by immediately

contacting your Avian Veterinarian.


5. During a routine exam, the Avian Veterinary has the

option of performing some of the following procedures

which include: weight charting, physical exams, blood

tests, gram stains, fecal smears, chemistry tests,

cultures and x-rays to help diagnose problems well

before people would recognize their birds are sick.

Finding out problems before they become apparent

allows us to correct diets or treat for conditions

before they become chronic or fatal.  This increases

the wellness and longevity of our birds and reduces

the long-term cost of bird ownership. In the early

stages, many illnesses caused by disease or improper

diet only show up by blood tests. For example, a

common problem with high fat diets in parrots is that

it can take over five years before any physical

symptoms of liver damage become apparent, but could be

detected by blood test during the first year.

Annual well checkups are essential for our pet birds.

The exam can detect problems before they become

critical. It also allows the owner and vet time to

discuss their individual bird’s proper care and diet.

Sam Backos, Board Certified Avian Specialist

954 427-0777

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