Recommended Avian Health Care
Birds in the wild have survival instincts, which cause them to hide their illness as long as possible. Signs of illness attract predators, since illness makes prey easier to catch. Birds in captivity, regardless of how tame, have retained that instinct. This fact has led to the misconception that birds get sick and die very quickly. In fact, when most owners notice signs of illness, the disease has been present for some time and is now in the terminal stages. This is why a thorough physical exam and laboratory testing is important.
The following is a list of avian medical procedures and the information gained from each test. Realize that no amount of testing can 100% guarantee a healthy bird, but the more information we have the more likely we will be to detect disease before it becomes lethal. Also, if this is a post purchase checkup, you may need this information for warranty purposes. Remember, no matter what type of bird you have or how much it cost to purchase, they are all considered family members and deserve the best medical care possible.
Physical Exam: Recommended twice a year, a complete physical exam may detect many common problems (respiratory disease, malnutrition, Vitamin A deficiency, sinus and/or eye infections, mites, feather disorders, etc).
Gram Stain on choana (mouth) and feces: This test checks for abnormal bacteria and yeast in the intestines and upper respiratory tract. It involves taking swabs from the mouth and the vent, applying these samples to a slide, a staining process, and microscopic examination. This procedure can be performed in a matter of minutes.
Fecal Flotation/Direct smear: These tests check for the presence of parasites (worms and protozoa) in the intestinal tract of birds – including roundworms, coccidia and giardia, (also contagious to people). This test also can be done in our own lab, within minutes.
CBC and Serum Blood Chemistry Analysis: This test checks for anemia, infection, blood parasites, and diseases of the liver, kidney and other internal organs. Diseases such as diabetes and calcium deficiency may also be detected. These tests require a blood sample, and are sent to an outside lab.
Psittacosis Test (Chlamydia or Parrot Fever): This disease can be carried by the bird for a long time without causing disease. But when active, it can make the bird very sick and may be lethal. It can also be spread to people. This test also gets sent to an outside lab.
X-Rays: There are many diseases detectable by x-rays such as pneumonia, abscesses, liver disease, fungal infection, old fractures, etc. Additionally, if your pet becomes ill in the future, it helps to have previous x-rays for comparison. Our radiology department is equipped to take quality radiographs of all pets, even the tiniest ones!
Additional tests that you may consider, depending on the species and origin of your bird, include Polyoma Virus and Psitticine Beak and Feather Disease.
Other available procedures to consider are wing trims, nail trims and beak trims, if needed. We are also trained to offer advice in the areas of housing, handling and nutrition. Many birds may have trouble standing on a perch if their nails are too long and may have difficulty eating if their beak is overgrown or misshapen. Birds that are permitted to fly may escape through an open door or window or fly into other dangers in your home. It is important to have your bird groomed to keep him/her safe and healthy.
This may also be a convenient time to determine the sex of your bird (through DNA analysis) and genetic “fingerprinting” (for identification). These tests are available through the same laboratory and can be performed at the same time.
If you are a new bird owner, please request an extended office visit so that we may take the time to discuss nutrition, behavior, housing, training and any other areas of concern. Please add clean paper to your pet’s cage before your appointment and be sure to cover your pet’s cage to prevent exposure to cold and wind. We also encourage bird owners to drop in with their birds from time to time for weight checks to ensure a healthy, growing bird.
Enjoy your feathered friends, and please call us if we can be of any help!