Help Your Bird
Live a Long and Healthy Life
Providing proper bird cages, aviaries and appropriate accessories are only a few of the important steps to take in proper bird care. One of the most important decisions you must make is choosing a good veterinarian. Ideally, the best advice we can provide is to find a veterinarian before a need or emergency develops and establish a relationship with them. If you haven't acquired your bird yet it is suggested to establish yourself with a vet before you purchase.
Developing a relationship with a qualified veterinarian is as important for your bird as having a medical care professional for yourself and your family. Since any veterinarian can call themselves an avian vet, it is important to assure yourself the vet you select is knowledgeable about birds, is experienced and qualified to treat them.
Among the veterinarians qualified to treat birds are those that are board certified. What determines aboard certified avian vet? It is a veterinarian who has Avian Certification from the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). Achieving board certification is a rigorous and time consuming procedure which requires a high degree of skill to achieve. Certification is given by the ABVP when an avian veterinarian has had 6 years of extensive, documented avian experience or formal training and has passed a series of complicated exams. While having access to a board certified vet may prove to be the ideal choice, they are limited in number and there may not be one available in your area. However, board certification is not absolutely required to have a good avian vet. There are resources available to locate qualified care near you. You can start by searching the Internet and/or yellow pages as most avian and exotic specialists list their qualification in these directories. The Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV) is an excellent resource to find a vet in your area to care for your bird.
Assuming that you may have acquired your bird from a reputable, quality bird breeder or bird store obtaining their recommendation for an avian veterinarian may be another option. Many times you can receive a good recommendation from an experienced bird owning friend who has received excellent veterinary care for their bird.
Once you've located a vet that is a recognized bird specialist the next step is to schedule an office visit to introduce yourself and offer preliminary information about your bird. This will allow you the opportunity to see the clinic (is it clean?), get to know the veterinarian (can you communicate with him/her?) and ask some questions, such as:
- Are you familiar with my bird species? Different species of birds react differently to certain medical procedures so it is good to be sure your vet has experience with treatments appropriate for your species of bird.
- Are you a member of the AVBP or AAV? (mentioned above) These organization advocate only the highest quality care.
- How long have you been treating birds? Choose a vet with a solid background in avian medicine.
- Do you offer after-hours or emergency care service? If the vet does not offer these services ask who they recommend for such services. Emergencies and accidents can happen at any time. It is important to have an emergency plan in place to get your pet medical help as quickly as possible. Emergency First Aid Kit.
- Do you make house calls? Many birds become over-stressed when traveling or may be too ill to endure the added stress of an office visit. For those that own multiple birds it may be better to rely on a vet that is able to come to your home.
- Who takes over your practice when you are on vacation or ill?
- Do you continue your education and knowledge about the latest information in avian and exotic medicine?
- What are the costs of your services? Ask for a copy of their fee schedule so you'll know what to expect.
- How often do you recommend well-bird checkups? What tests and services comprise a well-bird check? The Avian Health Exam and Diagnostic Testings.
- Do you keep birds at home? People who experience living with birds are often more capable of interpreting subtle signs that my aid in diagnosing problems.
A good avian veterinarian will provide clear answers to these questions and any others you may desire to ask. A good avian/exotic animal vet should demonstrate a genuine interest in caring for birds and have a solid background in avian medicine to be sure your bird is in capable hands.
During your bird's first visit observe the way the vet relates to the bird during the exam. Is the vet comfortable and competent handling the bird? Does the office staff and vet assistants help alleviate stress and help to make the visit comfortable for your bird?
Taking these factors into consideration will help you decide which avian veterinarian is the best for you.