Annual Avian Health Checkups

Annual Avian Health Checkup

Birds, unlike people, cannot tell you that they are sick. To complicate matters, they have evolved the tendency to hide any illness to prevent being recognized by a predator as easy prey. This masking of illness symptoms has lead to the misconception that birds become sick and die very quickly. Many people will say, “He was fine yesterday”. Actually, the bird has probably been ill for some time, but has not demonstrated any signs of illness. This is why a physical examination in conjunction with diagnostic testing can help to identify problems before they become lethal.

The following is a list of the components of a thorough avian medical examination and a brief summary of the information that each test provides. Please feel free to discuss these tests with the technician or doctor.

1. Physical Examination- A complete physical exam can allow detection of many common problems or symptoms (i.e. respiratory illness, malnutrition, Vitamin A deficiency, bone or joint abnormalities, sinus, and/or eye infections, mites, feather disorders, etc.) Anesthetic gas may be used to allow accurate positioning for radiographs (x-rays), complete visualization of the mouth and throat, and general examination of the air sacs, lungs, bones and joints, skin and feathers. While the bird is under the effects of this gas, any other procedures that the bird might object to while awake (drawing blood samples, trimming toe nails and wings, removing leg bands) can be performed quickly and easily.

2- Complete Blood Count (CBC)- This is a blood analysis done here in our office by Certified Veterinary Technicians. This test checks for anemia, infection, or blood parasites. It also gives an indication of liver function and blood protein levels.

3- Serum Blood Chemistry- This is a blood test that evaluates the individual organ functions in birds- liver, kidney, pancreas, etc. Conditions that can be detected with these values include liver disease, diabetes, kidney failure, and calcium deficiency.

4- Psittacosis Test (Parrot Fever)- Blood and stool samples are sent to the laboratory to check for Psittacosis (Chlamydophilosis). This disease can potentially spread to humans. Please ask the technicians for a handout on Psittacosis if you are not familiar with this disease. Results are available in 7-21 days, depending on the testing methods determined for your bird.

5- Fecal Flotation/Direct Smear/ Fecal Gram Stain - These tests check for the presence of parasites or protozoa- including roundworms, Coccidia, and Giardia (a potential human pathogen), as well as, abnormal intestinal bacteria yeast infection in the intestinal tract of birds.

6- X-Rays- The number of disease states that can be detected with X-rays are too numerous to completely list. Pneumonia, abscesses, liver disease, fungal infections, malformed bones or joints, and old fractures are some of the most commonly detected problems.

Although no amount of testing can guarantee a healthy bird- these tests can detect the most common diseases, giving you and your bird all the advantages that medicine has to offer.

Depending on your bird’s history and clinical exam findings, your veterinarian may recommend additional test such as Polyoma Virus and, Avian Borna Virus, and Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease. Feel free to ask your veterinarian for more information about these infectious disease

If you have a bird that is not sexually dimorphic (males and females can not be told apart based on appearance alone) we offer DNA sexing to determine your bird’s gender. A small amount of blood is required for this test. Please ask your doctor or technician for more information about this test.

Your initial office visit is intended to provide you with any information that you may need on nutrition, behavior, housing, training, or breeding of your bird. Please take advantage of the accumulated experience and expertise of the doctors and technical staff.

Enjoy your new addition, and please feel free to call us if we can be of any help to you.

Download the free PDF handout HERE