Avian Wellness Program
To ensure the health of your bird and the safety of your household, Arizona Exotic Animal Hospitals and Colorado Exotic Animal Hospital recommends the following Wellness Program:
· Health exam every 6-12 months
· Disease screening tests
o Blood test every 12-24 months in older patients
o Infectious disease testing
§ Chlamydia testing initially and again after any potential exposure
§ Polyoma/ PBFD(Circovirus) testing depending on the species initially and again after potential exposure
o Grams stains every 6-12 months
o Fecal parasite test initially and then again after any potential exposure in appropriate species
· The right diet (See more on this in our diet and species sections of the website)
o Balanced pellet diets: Harrison’s, LaFeber’s, Zupreem, Roudybush
o Fresh vegetables, fruits and grains as 10-20% of the diet for most parrots
§ Vitamins and Calcium as recommended
· Routine Grooming
o Wings when appropriate
o Beak trims can be done but are never considered routine because abnormalities of the beak indicate an underlying issue
· Home showers
· Ultraviolet B Light
o Natural unfiltered sunlight several hours a day
o Special light bulbs such as Zoo Med's Avisun Compact 5.0 UVB or Powersun
· Microchip identification
· Finding an appropriate avian boarding location or pet sitter
Why does my bird need an examination be a veterinarian every 6-12 months?
Birds hide their illness. A regular examination may detect signs of illness early, and allows the veterinarian to answer any health or behavioral questions you may have. Depending on the age and medical history of your bird, it may need a wellness exam even more frequently.
Why does my bird need so many tests?
Many bird diseases are difficult to detect without specialized tests. Some of these diseases, such as chlamydia (psittacosis), can cause serious illness in people.
Blood Tests: These are a good idea for any bird since they are not always able to tell us they are not feeling well. A yearly thorough blood test will help understand your bird’s health, and allow early treatment of any problems detected.
Psittacosis Test (Parrot Fever): A seemingly healthy bird may be a carrier of this contagious disease that can infect humans and other birds that share the same household. There are a few different ways to test for this disease, each with their own limitations. Testing may require a blood sample and swab of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. If your bird tests positive, the necessary medical treatment to eliminate the infection must be started. This test is highly recommended for any new bird, birds that have never been tested, and birds that have contact with birds outside the home.
Polyoma and PBFD are two viral diseases that can be seen in psittacine birds. Some birds can carry these diseases and never have problems but are able to shed the virus to others. This means a new bird entering the flock could bring in a disease that may have detrimental effects to others. Testing for these diseases is simple and requires either a blood sample or swabs of the gastrointestinal tract.
Gram stains: A quick swab of your bird’s mouth and feces allows us to screen for abnormal bacteria and yeast in the gastrointestinal tract. This test is often recommended for certain illnesses
The pink bacteria in this slide are Gram-negative bacteria that will cause illness in parrots. The purple bacteria are Gram-positive bacteria that are part of the normal flora of a parrot.
Fecal Parasite Test: Depending on the species of bird that is owned, there are different parasites that can be present. Giardia, coccidia, and roundworms are just a few of the many parasites that are spread in the feces and can even be found in seemingly healthy birds. We recommend fecal parasite examinations when a bird first enters the home and if there is potential exposure later in life.
Why do you recommend these diets?
Providing the right diet is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your bird’s long-term health. The manufacturers of the recommended pellets are known for producing high quality diets for birds and supporting research efforts to better understand birds' dietary needs. More information on diet can be found on our site under the diet section.
Why should I use a veterinary hospital to groom my bird?
Every bird we groom is handled by a technician or doctor that is trained to recognize signs of illness. Your bird will be weighed before it is groomed to detect any changes in weight that may signal an illness. If anything abnormal is detected, the technician or a doctor will talk to you about it before proceeding with the groom. We double-check all wing trims to make sure your bird cannot get any lift when it flaps its wings. We make sure that the nails are the right length and smooth to touch. We can trim overgrown and deformed beaks and address underlying issues that can be causing the beak to overgrow.
Why are special light bulbs important?
Birds need ultraviolet-B light for normal calcium and vitamin D metabolism. This ultraviolet-B light does not go through glass, plastic, or window screen so your bird either needs access to sunlight or it needs an artificial light shining into its cage.
Why should I microchip my bird?
A microchip inserted into the chest muscle of your bird offers a permanent way for you to prove ownership of your bird.
Who should take care of my bird when I can't?
It's important to prepare ahead of time and decide who will take care of your bird when you are out-of-town or otherwise unable to provide daily care. We also offer a caring boarding environment whenever you need someone else to take care of your bird. If a problem arises during boarding, one of our doctors will assess your bird at no charge and call you to discuss what treatment may be needed. If you are not comfortable boarding your bird, you may want to find a reputable pet-sitter. We can provide you with the names of different pet sitters comfortable with birds.