Avian Preventive Health Care
And the Importance of the Annual Exam

Jo Drahos DVM

We all know how the antics, love, and character our feathered companions provide enrich our lives.  Birds are such a joy in part because they are so unusual compared to the mammals we usually associate with.  But, it is precisely these differences that make routine preventive health care so crucial for our pet birds.

Most health problems seen in pet birds are preventable. 
    Proper diet, housing, grooming, and stimulation greatly reduce the risks for your pet bird. Become an expert on what your bird needs.  Feed the right diet.  Provide appropriate caging and toys.  Be sure your bird has a 10-14 hour quiet and dark night.  Keep a smoke-free household.  Protect against common household accidents and toxins.  Many excellent sources for this information exist.  A subscription to “Bird Talk” magazine is a good start.  Address your questions and concerns with the veterinarian during your bird’s annual exam.

When a bird does act sick, it may be too late.
When a problem does arise, however, it often goes unnoticed until it is too late.  Birds are masters at hiding any signs of illness or injury because they are conditioned to life within a flock.  If a bird shows signs of illness or injury, the flock will drive it out or kill it.  Therefore, when we see a bird showing that it is sick or injured, it is only because the illness or injury has become too severe for the bird to cover up.  All injuries and illnesses lead to the common endpoint of a bird who is fluffed, lethargic, and sitting on the bottom of the cage.  Intensive care and therapy may be able to save your bird even if it is this sick, but treatment is simpler and more successful when problems are found earlier.

Plan ahead for emergencies.
Finding a knowledgeable veterinarian that you are comfortable with can be a challenge for any bird owner.  You will need to have an established relationship with your veterinarian before an emergency arises.  At Riverside Animal Hospital, we reserve our emergency availability for our current and active clients.  Any after-hours emergency for a pet who has not been into the hospital for a routine preventive health care check-up within the past year will be referred to the closest emergency clinic.

Schedule your bird’s Routine Preventive Health Care Check Today!
A thorough examination performed by a licensed veterinarian experienced with birds is a very important step in the early identification of problems.   Problems found early are easier to treat.  Making changes to improve the way a bird is fed, housed, or otherwise cared for can also improve the chances for a long and healthy life.  Your veterinarian is here to help you learn how to take the best care of your bird possible.
Remember, a wing trim is not the same as a check-up!  You wouldn’t ask your barber to give you a clean bill of health after a haircut, so set up an appointment for your bird’s annual exam today! 

This is so important for the protection of your birds that as of January 2008 all birds coming into Riverside Animal Hospital for grooming appointments (nails, wings, etc.) must have had a routine physical within the preceding year.