When choosing the type of bird you want for a pet, there are several species to choose from. No matter the kind you choose, you will need to find a veterinarian experienced with avian care to help your new companion lead a happy, healthy life. Your vet is a valuable resource for advice, routine care, and unexpected illnesses. So how do you know when it’s time to schedule an appointment? Below are six times when it’s a good idea to take your pet bird to the vet.
For a Post-Adoption Exam
When you first adopt your pet bird, you need to take them for a health exam. The checkup is crucial for protecting your new pet, you, and the other people and pets in your household. Some exotic birds are prone to diseases and infections that can pose a danger to those around them. During the health check, the vet will screen the bird for viruses, parasites, infections, and other health concerns. The vet will also conduct blood tests to assess the overall health and organ function of the bird.
Additionally, this first visit will help you learn the basics of being a bird owner. Your vet will share information such as:
- Vaccination schedules for your pet
- Proper nutrition requirements
- Basic day-to-day bird care routine
- Safety and accident prevention
- How to identify symptoms of sickness in your bird
- Suitable housing for the bird
- How to enrich the bird’s environment with toys and foraging
If you have any other questions about how to care for your bird, now is a great time to ask your vet.
When Your Bird Behaves Abnormally
As you spend time with your bird, you will become familiar with its normal mannerisms and routine. You should call your vet if your pet starts exhibiting unusual behaviors, such as fluffing up. Fluffing up occurs when a bird traps warm air between its body and feathers to try and keep warm. While healthy birds occasionally fluff up while cold, cleaning themselves, or relaxing, prolonged fluffing up usually happens because your bird is not feeling well.
When a bird in the wild becomes sick, it tries to maintain a normal appearance for as long as possible. This natural instinct can help stave off predators and lengthen its lifespan. However, for domestic birds, this instinct makes it more difficult for you to notice when your pet is sick.
Because birds often disguise symptoms of illness, you should take any potential symptoms seriously. Some common signs of a sick bird include:
- Lack of appetite
- Loose stool
- Coughing or sneezing
- Frequently opening the beak or “yawning”
- Reduced vocalization or interaction with you
When you see any signs of illness in your bird, the bird might have been ill for quite some time, so you must act promptly and contact your vet immediately.
For Annual Health Checkups
The Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV) recommends taking your pet bird for a checkup at least once a year. These annual checkups allow your vet to screen for possible health problems, administer vaccinations, and answer any questions you may have about caring for your pet. During these visits, the vet also gets to know your bird and its temperament, providing a baseline to reference if your bird begins acting unusually.
When Searching for a Companion
Depending on your bird’s breed and temperament, you might decide to find it a friend—or even a mate! Your vet will be able to recommend the best companion for your bird based on its age, species, and personality. Your vet will also advise you on creating a suitable environment for multiple birds. If you are interested in breeding your birds, your vet is the best person to advise you on how to do so responsibly.
Your vet is your trusted partner when it comes to keeping your bird happy, healthy, and safe. Going for regular checkups will help the vet to identify any signs of sickness in your bird, treat them promptly, and increase your bird’s quality of life. Being a bird owner requires a fair amount of work and research, but it’s well worth it for the companionship these unique animals provide.