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Monday, July 13, 2009
Inevitable Vet Trips!

By Linda Costello
Explore the diaries of daily life with large birds.

Cupid's missing toenail required an unexpected vet trip
Moluccan cockatoo Cupid's toe nail popped off when it was being clipped, so the vet had to bandage it up to try to keep him from picking at it for at least five days.
Caring for a pet bird may require expensive vet visits
Taking birds to the vet can get pretty expensive, but it is a necessity for happy, healthy birds.

Taking my birds to the vet can get pretty expensive, but it is a necessity. I always tell people that when you have a flock, the cost can become mind boggling!  The more birds you have, the more likely an unexpected vet trip will be necessary.

For us it is a 4 ½-hour-round trip, but well worth it for an experienced vet who keeps up with the latest in avian medicine!

My grey, Muggsy, nearly 21 years old, needs regular checkups because she was diagnosed with aspergillosis a few years ago. I suspected she had it long before that! I just couldn't get any local vets to take me seriously enough to run the tests. Luckily, through a totally unrelated incidence, I found a great avian vet who listened to what I had to say. He ran the necessary tests, which came back positive and treated her, but she needs six months to one year checkups to make sure it is not coming back!

My green-winged macaw, Molly, was found to have low- to- no thyroid function over a year ago. She was put on an iodine supplement. My vet said it is an easy fix. I just add the iodine drops to her drinking water, but she will continue on the iodine supplements for the rest of her life.

A couple birds usually come along for grooming only. JJ, my blue-and-gold macaw, needed his beak trimmed often by our former vet. But Dr. Lindstrom, our current vet ran tests and found that JJ's thyroid was not functioning, and he had a high-fat content in his blood. The beak overgrowth was related to this condition and a signal that something was wrong. After treatment, his blood work is back to normal and so was his beak, but he will remain on thyroid medicine for life. This is one good example of why a bird checkup periodically is a good idea. In our case, JJ's thyroid problem would have gone undiagnosed until he was showing signs of sickness, which could have hindered his successful treatment and recovery.

My Moluccan cockatoo Cupid's toe nail popped off when it was being clipped, so the vet had to bandage it up to try to keep him from picking at it for at least five days. The vet said there must have been some kind of trauma to the nail bed from birth or at a young age, since I told him that this happened at least once before.

We all know how a Moluccan cockatoo could chew that bandage off in a wink of an eye, but, incredibly, it stayed intact! The toe healed and the nail regrew!

Ideally, everyone should learn how to trim their bird's toenails themselves if at all possible. A friend bought me a Peticure (dremel-type nail trimmer) for Christmas last year. Most of my birds are accepting of it. Several, like Muggsy and Mitch (greys) and Renee (scarlet macaw), will lie on their back in my lap while I dremel away. My Morgan (blue-and-gold macaw) won't tolerate it but will sometimes let me clip hers with a  nail clipper.  Otherwise if any of them are not cooperative an occasional grooming at the vet’s is necessary.

Taking all my birds at once for a checkup and blood work would be out of the question financially, so I try to take one or two along for the basic workup each time there is a need for another bird to go.

And from minor feather picking, needing tests run to rule out any medical cause, to beaks needing trimmed (I have two birds with slightly crooked beaks) there are frequent vet trips throughout the year with my flock of 14 parrots.

Start a savings account just for vet expenses. I pet sit fairly often for friends and save the money in an account to go toward my birds’ expenses.

When I decided to keep these birds as my pets, I became responsible for their care. That includes their health care, expensive as it may be. It's not easy, especially in our current troubled economy, but to sit idly by and see them suffer and possibly die because I couldn't afford the vet expenses would be a sad situation. This is something that people need to keep in mind when adding more birds to their flock. The expenses get higher and higher. Not only the upkeep of food, toys, cages and play areas throughout the house, etc, but, other than the initial well-bird checkup and tests that all birds should have before joining your current flock, there will be times when those birds need to be seen by an avian vet!

Share some of the plans you have in place, financially or otherwise, for when those unexpected vet trips pop up!

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Inevitable Vet Trips!

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Reader Comments
Your articles are always informative and I enjoy reading them very much. Your pampered birds sound like they live their life in a day spa. In my next life I want to be one of your birds. What color would you like me to be? Will I be able to watch my soap operas?
Elba, Bloomingdale, OH
Posted: 7/22/2009 7:13:32 AM
It never ceases to amaze me how knowledgeable you are about Birds or should I say Parrots.

Be careful when you go to Cleveland, I hear it is infested with Brown's fans.

Danny, Apopka, FL
Posted: 7/18/2009 6:35:20 PM
Wow...another great idea I never thought of.
We can all learn from each other.
Thanks Charlie
Linda, Toronto, OH
Posted: 7/16/2009 6:33:02 PM
I took a really great picture of my Umbrella Cockatoo and added the Emergency Contact info for my Vet and my Bird Store across the front. It hangs on the wall in the Bird Room between the two cages. This way anyone finding my birds has the phone number for someone that knows my birds and will care for them. It's also decorative.
Charlie, Orlando, FL
Posted: 7/16/2009 5:30:28 PM
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