Veterinary Care – What and Why
How do I find a Bird Vet?
There are bird specialists out there – a specialist is someone who has spent time to study and learn about the different types of birds and their needs. They have passed a difficult certification process from the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). You may see them referred to as Diplomate ABVP (Avian) or a variation on that theme. You can find a list of ABVP certified veterinarians on the ABVP website.
Some veterinarians don’t have the time or energy to become certified but they still may know their stuff! They aren’t specialists but may have a focus or interest in avian medicine. Any US veterinarian who sees birds on a regular basis should be a member of the Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV) so they stay in contact with their colleagues and try to stay on top of current medicine.
Some veterinarians refuse to see birds (especially at emergency clinics). While this is frustrating and sad it is for your protection! A veterinarian who doesn’t know how to handle or treat birds may delay appropriate treatment or cause harm. This is why they say no.
When Should I go to the Vet?
When you get your new pet it is a great idea to take them to see a veterinarian in the first month. You want to establish a relationship with a doctor before any frightening issues crop up. The doctor will perform a physical exam. Additionally, your doctor may have husbandry recommendations for you or talk to you about a diet change. This is a great first step.
We recommend annual exams for birds just like for dogs and cats. This allows you to check in with your doctor and discuss any changes. We keep weight records and monitor trends. Birds are very good at hiding their illnesses so sometimes a problem will be seen at the annual exam.
Because birds hide being sick we usually recommend a health work up in the form of diagnostic testing such as blood work. We will make different recommendations for different species of birds or different age ranges. We love to see normal test results every year and we can use these baseline values to know if something is changing in your bird’s condition…before they are too sick to hide it.