Basic Avian Healthcare

Jo M. Drahos, DVM

So, you’re getting a new bird---what health care will it need?
The most important thing you can do is find an avian veterinarian BEFORE you bring your bird home.
Veterinarians who are knowledgeable and comfortable seeing birds can be hard to find.  Ask your bird-owning friends for their recommendations.
Take your new bird in for a routine examination within the first month.  This will allow for early detection of any problems and also allow you to establish a relationship with the veterinarian.
Find out the veterinarian’s plan for handling emergencies.  DO NOT WAIT UNTIL YOU HAVE AN EMERGENCY TO FIND A VETERINARIAN.  Some veterinarians see their own emergencies.  Others refer after-hours emergencies to an Emergency Center.  You will want to know what the plan is for your bird.
The Importance of Avian Annual Examinations:
Birds are masters at hiding signs of illness.  They won’t show any symptoms until they are very weak.
By the time a bird is fluffed, lethargic, and sitting on the bottom of the cage, it may be too late.
Regular examinations by a licensed veterinarian allow an opportunity to detect problems early, increasing the chances of successful treatment.
Because illnesses are so difficult to detect in birds, be sure to observe a STRICT QUARANTINE for at least 30 days before bringing a new bird into your household or allowing contact with existing birds.
Remember, a wing trim is not the same as an examination.  A thorough physical may also include laboratory tests.
Call your veterinarian to schedule an examination today!
The Importance of Good Husbandry:
Many common avian health problems can be prevented with appropriate husbandry.
Providing your bird with adequate housing and nutrition is essential to helping your bird live a long and healthy life.
Appropriate Housing:  Be sure your bird is in the largest practical cage and that it has appropriate bar spacing.  Also make sure that it is reasonably new and in good condition.  Some older bird cages are made of toxic metals.
Appropriate Nutrition:  An all-seed diet is not healthy for pet birds and will eventually cause problems.  An ideal diet is comprised of 85% formulated pellets and 15% healthy people foods.  Emphasize vegetables and whole grains.  Small amounts of fruits and meats may also be fed.  Strictly limit seeds and other treats.  Ask your veterinarian for more information on this very important topic.
Common Signs of Illness:
Decreased activity
Decreased vocalization
Decreased appetite
A change in the amount or appearance of the droppings
Wheezing, sneezing, or stuffy nose
Severe feather loss producing bald spots
Remember that a fluffed, lethargic bird sitting at the bottom of the cage is the common endpoint of all serious injuries and illnesses.  Call your veterinarian sooner rather than later.
This information provided by Jo M. Drahos, DVM, courtesy of Riverside Animal Hospital.  Riverside Animal Hospital reserves after-hours emergency availability for our current and active clients exclusively.  We are accepting new patients during regular office hours.  All other emergencies are directed to call the Animal Emergency Center of the Quad Cities for stabilization until referral to an avian veterinarian can be arranged.  AEC: (563)344-9599.  Dr. Jo reminds all bird owners to keep their birds current on annual examinations to be eligible for emergency service
938 Grandview Avenue
Muscatine, Iowa  52761