Taking a pet bird to the veterinarian can be stressful for him or for you, but there’s a big payoff! Here’s how I explained it to a reader.
Q: How often should my pet bird visit the veterinarian?
A: A healthy pet bird should visit the veterinarian each year for a physical examination and as needed for illness or injury. According to the Association of Avian Veterinarians, it is important for a pet bird to have regular examinations because signs of illness in birds tend to be subtle.
The veterinarian will begin by collecting your bird’s medical history from you, and that information will be included in his medical file. The exam will then proceed to a hands-off look-see before he is gently restrained in a towel and removed from his carrier. Your bird will be weighed and looked over carefully from beak to bottom for physical indications of illness or injury. Your veterinarian will listen to the bird’s heart, lungs and air sacs with a stethoscope.
Following the examination, your veterinarian may recommend diagnostic tests, including fecal evaluation, bloodwork and microbiology to further determine your pet’s health. The annual exam can also be a good time to have your bird’s wing feathers clipped or his toenails trimmed.
Observant owners are important members of their bird’s health care team. Watch for signs of illness, which can include a fluffed appearance, appetite loss, increased sleep, weight loss, a change in the frequency or appearance of droppings, lameness, drooping wing or wings, breathing difficulties, or discharge from the bird’s nares (nostrils) or eyes.
Pay attention to your bird’s appetite, appearance and activity level daily, and contact your veterinarian’s office for advice if you notice a change in your bird’s routine. Because birds naturally mask signs of illness, the first indicators are often overlooked, but early detection is key to helping your bird regain health as quickly as possible.
Read more, including how to recognize arthritis in your dog or cat, in Pet Connection, the weekly nationally syndicated pet feature I co-write with Kim Campbell Thornton and my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker.