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Veterinary Care for Your Bird - Annual Exam

By Laurie Hess, DVM; Rick Axelson, DVM

Care & Wellness, Pet Services

Does my bird really need a check up?annual_bird_visit-1

Most people have annual physical examinations with their physicians and take their dogs and cats in once or twice yearly to be checked by a veterinarian, so why shouldn’t the pet bird have an annual check-up, too? Newly acquired birds should be examined by a veterinarian within the first couple of days after purchase or adoption.

In addition, birds should receive routine veterinary examinations at least annually. Your veterinarian may have very important reasons to see your bird on a different schedule, so discuss the plan for your specific bird with your veterinarian. The most important job a veterinarian has is to help ensure your pet stays healthy and does not gets sick. This achieved by thoroughly examining your bird and performing routine tests to prevent illness from developing. This is called preventive medicine.

"All birds should receive routine veterinary examinations at least annually."

In the wild, a bird will work hard to display a strong outward appearance even when it is sick to avoid being killed by a predator. By the time a bird actually shows signs of being unwell, it has likely or often has been sick for some time. A physical examination allows a veterinarian to pick up subtle signs of disease before they are obvious.

What will the veterinarian do?

Ideally, your bird should be brought to your veterinary clinic in his cage, so your veterinarian may assess his environment, food, feeding arrangement, and droppings on the bottom of the cage. If this is your bird's first visit to your veterinarian, the veterinary staff will gather a lot of information about your bird, including age, sex, species, previous background, diet, and length of current ownership. Your veterinarian should discuss proper diet and care of your particular species of bird.

"Your bird will then be gently but securely restrained in a towel to prevent injury and an in-depth physical examine will be performed."

From the time you walk into the exam room, your veterinarian will observe your bird in his cage and note his attitude, posture, feathering, vocalizations, and physical condition. Your bird will then be gently, but securely restrained in a towel to prevent injury and an in-depth physical examine will be performed. Any abnormal changes in the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin, feathers, beak, wings, legs, nails, vent, chest, or abdomen, will be noted. If your bird is calm, his nails may be trimmed, and his wings may be clipped if you request it.

Before your bird is released an accurate weight in grams is recorded. With all these observations documented, a complete and current database is available to reference any time in the future to monitor changes in your pet.

Will any tests be done?

Your veterinarian will discuss the need for testing with you depending on the findings of the physical examination. Wellness testing provides further information that is important in assessing your pet's condition. Tests, including blood tests and fecal analysis, are performed routinely on apparently healthy birds to monitor the current state of health of the bird. Blood samples are typically sent to an outside laboratory for analysis, and your bird’s stool may be analyzed under a microscope to assess for yeast, bacteria, and parasites. The specific tests your veterinarian suggests will depend on your bird’s age, size, species, and health status.

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