Health Examinations For Your Bird
When a dog or cat is not well, the change in their behavioral patterns is often more obvious than in birds. Yet routinely people take their cat or dog to the vet for a checkup each year regardless of their apparent wellness, whilst novice bird owners seem to think if all seems well, there is nothing to be done. Quite the opposite is true. Bird health issues can present themselves quietly and insidiously, so its important to get regular health checkups for your pet bid.

Examine you Bird
Upon acquiring a new bird, examine it carefully yourself, take some photos, to establish what is “normal” in your mind for your bird. if you have a video camera or video attached to your normal camera, take some footage to document its “normal” behavior. How active is it? How vocal is it? Then, make an appointment with your vet for a complete bird physical. Bone diseases are almost impossible to detect until they have caused irreversible damage. Damage to internal organs by poor diet can be detected as well and your bird may need a special restorative diet. Your vet should be able to give you a heads up as to where to go from here with your new bird. Trust me, this first checkup may well save you larger bills in the future, as well as the life of your bird.

Assume they are sick and place them in Quarantine
A bird may well be sick but not yet showing symptoms. If you have a new bird, place it in quarantine for 2 weeks before introducing it to existing birds. You don’t want to find out too late that it was carrying something nasty and has now infected all your other birds.

Annual Checkup
Many bird illnesses present no symptoms until the disease is very advanced. This includes bone diseases caused by dietary problems or lack of UV light, too high levels of iron in some species, insufficient protein – all manner of problems can affect your bird. An annual checkup is essential, every 6 months even better.

The Aviarian health Examination
Your bird cannot speak for itself(well some can, but not about their personal history!) Your vet is going to need all sorts of information, age, how long you’ve had them, diet, behavioral changes, length of time in a cage, amount of exercise it gets, any potentially problematic habits such as eating plastic etc and contact with other birds

Physical Evaluation of your Bird
Your vet is trained to be able to observe your bird from outside the cage and also physically examine it for problems with muscle tone, bone density, general appearance and structural confirmation, for the existence of tumors, skins conditions, eye conditions. They will look for problems with beak formation, nasal, ear and mouth cavities, problems with their feet and general look of wellbeing.

Adult birds should maintain a constant weight. Detecting subtle differences in weight can be difficult as their feathers tend to disguise these minor weight changes. Your vet will weigh your bird to ensure it is not suffering from conditions that are causing it to become malnourished and lose weight, with more significant consequences such as loss of bone density and muscle wastage from poor nutrition.

Specialised diagnostic Techniques
If this physical exam shows up and possible problems, your vet may recommend blood work, x-rays or other forms of body imaging to better diagnose the problem. They won’t rush in to use these tools as they are expensive but at some point they may well be necessary. Your vet has the fool owing test at their disposal to check for problems.

Appraisal of Droppings
Your vet can examine the appearance of your birds droppings – how often they are going No. 2’s, their colour and makeup. Your bird may need to stay in the vets surgery for a couple of days as in it ally they are likely to have looser droppings due to stress. Dropping can be tested for the presence of parasites.

Psittacosis Test

Psittacosis, or parrot fever, is dangerous parrot disease and it can spread to other birds as well as humans

is important as part of the new bird exam or annual check-up because the causative agent, Chlamydia psittaci may be transmitted from birds to humans. its a rare disease so don’t be too concerned, but be vigilant

Radiographs and X-rays
X-rays are used to check the bones of your bird for density, existing or healed fractures and malformations that may be genetic or diet related. A radiograph can detect tumors, internal organs that are the wrong size and other soft tissue problems

Blood Tests
As with people, an avian blood test can provide a window into their general health. A blood test can detect disease, internal parasites, dietary problems and organ dysfunction.

A swab from your birds throat of nasal cavity can be cultured to detect the presence of abnormal amounts of bacteria which would be impacting on the bird. many bird types are sensitive to antibiotics so the exact bacteria or parasite needs to be determined so a targeted low dose of treatment can be administered.

With the use of special stains, a veterinarian versed in this technique can evaluate smears of tissue or fluids to assist in diagnosis.

Virus Screening
There has been a lot of advancement in this area of Avian health care in recent years with new tests being developed to screen birds for certain viruses. Many avian viruses present no physical symptoms until the bird is under stress, eg whilst laying eggs or during early growth periods so its important to detect these viruses before nay breeding program is begun.

This diagnostic procedure is more complicated and expensive than those listed above and would be used only in special circumstances. It tends to be an invasive procedure that places stress on the bird and its only used when other tests have proved inconclusive.. in such rare case, a biopsy of a diseased organ can be taken through the endoscope for a more precise diagnosis.




Veterinary Surgeon, London at Blue Cross UK | + posts

A London based Veterinary surgeon, Sanja is also an avid writer and pet advocate.