Our avian buddies should receive a check up from an avian vet once a year. In the wild birds hide sickness to avoid being captured by predators. A yearly checkup monitors the health of your bird and a longer life. Here are a few things to keep in mind when going to the vet.
- Feeding – Do not feed your birds any foods that may contain yeast prior to the visit. This may show an elevated yeast count in the test results which was caused by food and not a fungal infection.
- Carrier – Always put your bird(s) in a carrier or cage with a perch when traveling in the car. Birds are safer enclosed in the event of a car accident. Place clean paper towels at the bottom of the carrier to capture fresh droppings for the vet’s exam. If possible transport multiple birds separately so the vet knows who made the poop.
- Prior to the exam – When you walk into the exam room inform your vet staff if your birds are flighted, tame, or aggressive (i.e. don’t like males/females). This will help to keep your birds safe. I caution the vet tech to use a thick towel with my Caique since he does not like to be mummied (think of a Bulldog with feathers). Additionally, remember you are your bird’s advocate so if there are any changes in your bird's behavior, inform the vet. This could be as simple as my bird is yawning much more than usual or showing nesting behavior in excess.
- Car sick – If any of your birds became car sick and regurgitated on the way inform the vet since this might change the results of the oral sample.
- Physical exam – Similar to a checkup at your doctor’s the vet will exam the bird’s eyes, wings, feathers, beak, nostrils, feet, and body condition. S/he may ask you questions about your bird’s condition, behavior, and whether s/he has cage mates. The bird’s weight will be recorded.
- Gram Stain test - The fecal gram stain test provides a visual sample of the bacteria in your bird’s gastrointestinal tract. The vet may use the term gram positive or negative. Harrison’s Bird Food has a nice pdf about this topic (for reference only): http://avianmedicine.net/content/uploads/2013/03/gramstain2.pdf
- Lab tests – Routine lab work may consist of taking a blood sample from the bird’s neck, a swab of the throat, and a sample of droppings. The tests may be run in house or sent to a lab. Lab work can be quite extensive. Some test results are known right away and the vet may call you with the results the next day. Your vet is there for you so take the time and ask questions for any results you don’t understand. A good vet will not over medicate your friend and will take the time to share his/her knowledge. The following PDF is a little old but is comprehensive in explaining some of the lab tests (for reference only, copy and paste the url in your browser). · https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Elliott_Jacobson/post/What_order_of_magnitude_are_protein_concentrations_for_zebra_finch_plasma/attachment/59d633b779197b8077991641/AS:375929705648128@1466640034028/download/Understanding-Avian-Laboratory-Tests.pdf.
- Trip home – Your bird may feel exhausted after the exam so let your buddy have a little quiet time at home.