Make the most of your bird’s first veterinary exam
What to Bring (Besides Your Bird!)
When you bring home your bird, he should be evaluated by an avian veterinarian as soon as possible. To take full advantage of that first examination, be sure to arrive prepared: - Write out a list of questions to bring to the exam.
- Prepare a list of all the food and supplements that you are giving your bird.
- Have a good description of the cage set-up, and bring photos of the cage and room environment in which your bird lives.
- Bring a stool sample to the exam (although your bird will probably provide a fresher one while you are waiting!).
- Bring any information and records you have from the breeder, aviary, pet store or shelter. This can help you and the veterinarian decide whether your bird has had certain tests or may still need them.
What to Expect at the Vet's Office
- At the exam, you can expect the veterinarian to weigh your bird with an accurated gram scale.
- Your pet’s doctor should also take a full clinical history and, of course, perform a complete physical examination.
Based on the information gathered from these procedures, the veterinarian may recommend a basic blood screen, which consists of a cell blood count and serum biochemistries. These are helpful in two important ways. First, they will help to determine whether or not your bird has any underlying diseases. A healthy-looking baby bird may not appear sick on a physical exam, but may have a hidden illness. Second, you have not wasted time and money if your bird turns out to be fine—the results can be used as a comparison if your bird develops signs of illness later.
- The veterinarian will check your bird’s stool sample for the presence of parasites and take a bacterial count.
- Swabs of your bird’s throat (the part called the choana), crop (where he stores food) and cloaca (where his excretions pass) may be taken for various tests.
- The doctor will probably advise an additional test for psittacosis—a serious disease that is also contagious to humans—and certain other viruses, unless the possibility of contact with these diseases has been totally eliminated.
Remain Vigiliant—and follow up!
While an examination greatly diminishes the chances of a hidden, underlying problem, no one can guarantee that your bird won’t develop an illness later. It’s up to you to be a close observer of your new bird.
- If symptoms of even the slightest problem appear, such as loose stools, sneezing, ruffled feathers, excessive sleeping or lethargy, bring your bird back to your veterinarian that same day or the next, before a minor problem becomes a serious one.
- A repeat examination one month after the first is a good idea, even if your bird appears to be doing well. This will give your veterinarian a chance to address anything that may concern you about your new pet and, if necessary, take steps to help the condition.
- Your bird should have an annual check-up once a year, or more frequently should you see early signs of illness.
Where to Find an Avian Vet
Association of Avian Veterinarians