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How to Recognize a Pet Bird Medical Emergency

Learn how to recognize that your pet bird is having a medical emergency from veterinarian Laurie Hess in this Howcast video.


Dr. Laurie: So I would say that most of the calls that we receive are from people that own birds who have emergencies. I'd say more than half the patients that we pick up come in on an emergency. People don't think they have to bring their birds in for regular checkups or preventative medical care, which unfortunately is really a misunderstanding. They really do need to do that. But we will often meet people and their birds for the first time when there's and emergency medical problem.

I know that at our hospital, I and our other veterinarian there actually are on call 24/7, so even after we close or on the Sundays when we're not open we are available for emergencies. We actually have an answering service that screens our calls. We work very carefully with three local emergency hospitals that are open 24/7, to go in and train those vets to make sure that they understand the basic medical care, not necessarily diagnostic care, but basic life-saving medical care for birds, in case there is an emergency. And we have a really great setup. I do think it's really important when you have an emergency that you work with a veterinary hospital that can handle this. Right, Sarah?

Sarah: Absolutely, it's very important to have a veterinarian that's comfortable handling your bird in an emergency situation. Even if they're not capable of doing certain diagnostics like we are, such as blood work or anything along those lines, they can at least stabilize the bird. They can give them fluids. They can make sure they get some food into them, and they can them warm and they can keep a close eye on them, and contact the doctors if necessary, to get advice over the phone on how to help your bird in the middle of the night.

Dr. Laurie: So when you choose a veterinarian for your bird, I think it's very important that you discuss a potential emergency situation. You don't want to get caught where your bird can't breathe or is bleeding or has some really serious life-threatening condition and you're left calling around to the whole neighborhood, only to be left with an emergency clinic that is open for cats and dogs 24 hours, but has never treated a bird. So choose your veterinarian wisely. Pick someone who's available to you 24/7.

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