A Trip to the Bird Veterinarian

Our household owns 3 birds, one cockatiel and 2 budgies (parakeets).  One evening after settling down from the afternoons activities, my son comes to tell me that the parakeets “just don’t look right.”  By this time it is nearing 7 o’clock and about the time most veterinarians would close up shop for the night. After taking a look, the birds look a bit lethargic and seem like they have lost weight. So, as the bird owner, I told my son to call the bird veterinarian. He did, they were about to close but said to bring them by. This trip to the veterinarian was very enlightening. We both learned lots, and even watched a rooster get an x-ray.

bird veterinarianThe first thing after introductions and paperwork was for the veterinarian (by the way this was a strictly bird clinic, which is luckily pretty close to the house) to watch the birds to see how they acted.

Next it was time for blood work. Do you know how they take blood from a bird? This was the first thing I learned that night. I now understand there are a few ways blood can be taken from a bird. It is a very sensitive procedure and should only be done by a veterinarian experienced with birds. Our bird veterinarian took the blood sample by clipping the birds toenail. If you clip the toenail too much it will bleed. He then used a small tube to collect a very small amount of blood. He explained to us that the procedure may make the bird seem more tired and lethargic than usual. Since our birds were not feeling well to begin with, they were not any more tired than they already were. The doctor smeared some of the blood on slides and also did a CBC on it.

The following information about a birds blood is taken from The Bird Channel website (http://www.birdchannel.com/bird-diet-and-health/blood-loss.aspx). This site is a great site for all kinds of bird information.

A complete blood count(CBC) can give us invaluable information, and testing the plasma (or serum) can provide us with information about the kidneys, liver, blood sugar level and many more functions. The difference between plasma and serum is that with serum the clotting factors are removed by allowing the blood to clot first before spinning the sample down to separate the liquid from the cells themselves.

After review of the blood samples, the doctor said that it looked fine. He wanted to do some x-rays of the birds to make sure there was nothing going on inside. This was the second thing we learned about. My son of course asked if he could watch the birds get the x-rays. The doctor told him of course but he had to stand behind the screen. It takes two people to get the x-ray, 1 holds opens the wings and the other holds the tail and legs while on the x-ray table, and click the picture from a pedal on the floor. Then we got to look at the x-rays while he examined them. My son asked all kinds of questions about the innards. Everything seemed good there too.

So everything tested out ok, but they just were not acting right, the doctor decided to give them both some antibiotic. That was the next lesson since my son would have to give it for the next 3 weeks twice a day. He was given a choice of giving it via a shot or orally. He chose to do it orally. They first showed him how to easily catch the bird in the cage. To do this they shut the lights in the room. The bird cannot see as well in the dark which makes it easier to catch him. Next he learned how to hold the birds properly to give the medicine, thumb around the neck, he cannot choke the bird. Next stick the medicine dropper into the birds mouth and push the medicine in.Then lift the birds beak with the dropper so it would swallow the medicine. My son has now become an expert at all of this and gets it all done within just a few minutes with both birds.

The last suggestion from the doctor is to use a heat lamp. He said the birds like it about 85 degrees. So we purchased an inexpensive lamp that we now use each night.

The birds do seem to be getting better, but still more time is needed. We have about another 1.5 weeks of medicine to go. Although going to the doctor is never a cheap experience. We did learn a lot and hope that the birds will fully recover from their illness.