Leading to a longer life – Avian Vet visits
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