Dr. Laurie: Perhaps one of the most important questions that we are asked is whether birds need to go to the vet. I will answer that with a resounding yes. Most people unfortunately don't realize that their birds need checkups. They come to us for the first time, mostly on emergency when their birds are sick. What we try to change is that mentality that birds should only come in when they're sick. We can actually prevent a lot of illness by seeing birds on a regular basis, like we do with cats and dogs.
Having regular checkups, having stool examinations, blood testing, all very, very important in keeping a bird healthy. Most birds need to come in at least annually. When they get older for some of the species that are smaller, that don't live as long, sometimes they need to come in twice a year. We see birds all day. Do you want to tell them a little bit about what we do with birds on exam?
Sarah: Absolutely, I mean one of the most important things that we do especially with a new bird coming in is we like to do blood work on the bird, just as a basic blood work to see what their normal body functions are even if the bird isn't sick. This way in the future, if the bird becomes ill, we can easily compare blood work and say, "Okay, when the bird was well and feeling okay the blood work looked like this."
We can spot minor discrepancies between the blood work when the bird is feeling ill as compared to when the bird is well. As well as doing fecal exams. They can get parasites just like your other pets. and they can have negative effects on their health. and it's good to make sure that none of that is going on.
Dr. Laurie: Absolutely, and we have to recognize that although birds may be young when we get them, as they age just like we age, our cats and dogs age they go through different life stages. One of the things that we focus on at our hospital is recognizing the different stages of life and the different requirements, whether they be environmental requirements, moving the perches closer together because the bird is not able to climb as well, nutritional requirements.
Certainly you don't need the same amount of food as you do when you're growing as you do when you're older and a little more sedentary. Even behavioral requirements, certain younger animals need more activity than some older animals. So birds change and age just as we do and we need to recognize that. That's what a good avian veterinarian and a good technician recognize on a good checkup.