Bird - Veterinary Health Examinations

Does my bird really need a check up?

It is common for people to have personal annual physical examinations or to take the dog and cat in once or twice yearly so why not the bird in your family? It is most important to have any new bird examined within the first couple of days after purchase. A routine veterinary examination is recommended at least twice annually. Your veterinary surgeon may have very important reasons to see your bird on a different schedule so discuss it. The most important job a vet has is to help ensure your pet stays as healthy as possible and hopefully never gets sick. This is called preventive medicine.

In the wild, a bird will endeavour to display a strong appearance even when sick. We might call this 'survival of the fittest' although it's not quite what Darwin meant when he first used the term! By the time a bird actually shows an owner that it is unwell, it has likely been sick for some time. During the examination the veterinary surgeon may pick up subtle signs of disease.

What will the veterinary surgeon do?

If possible, bring the bird in its cage so the veterinary surgeon may assess the bird's environment, food, feeding arrangement and some of the droppings on the bottom of the cage. It is useful to place paper (kitchen paper or newspaper) on the floor of the cage for a few days before examination to allow proper examination/assessment of droppings. If this is the bird's first visit to the veterinary surgeon then a lot of information will be gathered initially pertaining to you and more importantly, your bird. The age, sex, species, previous background the bird may have had, diet and length of current ownership will be recorded in the birds permanent medical record.

Your vet may discuss or give you information regarding proper diet and care of your particular species of bird.

From the time you walked into the exam room, your veterinary surgeon has been observing the bird in the cage. Attitude, posture, feathering and physical shape are all noted before the bird is out of the cage. The bird will then be securely restrained to prevent injury to person or pet and examined in depth physically. Any abnormal changes in the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin, feathers, wings, legs, vent, chest or abdomen will be noted.

The beak and nails are trimmed, ground down or groomed if necessary. Wings are clipped at this time if requested by the owner, other options are not deemed suitable.

Behavioural, training and management concerns may also be discussed.

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

Will any tests be done?

Your veterinary surgeon will discuss the need for testing with you depending on what has been found on the examination. Specific tests will provide further information important in assessing your pet's condition. Some tests are performed routinely on apparently healthy birds to monitor the current state of health of the bird.

Used and/or modified with permission under license. ©Lifelearn, The Penguin House, Castle Riggs, Dunfermline FY11 8SG

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