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Thursday, July 29, 2010
A Day At The Avian Vet

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

blue-and-gold macaw 
Courtesy Linda Costello
JJ, a blue-and-gold macaw, has a thyroid problem, and needs to take medication for the rest of his life.

Congo African grey 
Courtesy Linda Costello
Muggsy, an African grey, hanging out with Dr. Lindstrom, her avian veterinarian.

Moluccan cockatoo 
Courtesy Linda Costello
Cupid, a Moluccan cockatoo, needs regular beak trims because of his crooked beak.

 It’s great to have bird friends. My friend Tina joined me for a trip to the vet, and we loaded the carriers with my African grey, Muggsy, blue-and- gold macaw, JJ,  and my Moluccan cockatoo, Cupid, and we were off! Tina didn't need to take any of her pet birds to vet, but she's always ready to help me when I have an appointment. We have a fun time yakking it up on the long drive to get there. I really appreciate her helping me out, because I don't like to drive such long distances by myself!

Of my three birds, Muggsy needed a recheck since she was treated for aspergillosis several years ago. She is now clear of it but because it's a systemic, fungal infection and so difficult to get rid of, she needs to be rechecked regularly to make sure it is not growing again. She has had several negative results now and I hope it stays that way. She was so lucky to have survived it initially.

JJ has a thyroid problem and is on medication that he has to take for life. He needs checked periodically to be sure the dosage of medication doesn't need adjusted.

Cupid had to go along on this visit for grooming of his crooked beak that easily overgrows and needs to be dremeled and reshaped regularly.

Because of earlier vet experiences (not with this vet), JJ gets stressed out easily during exams. Although our vet is very gentle with him, he makes his “scared bird” noises as soon as we get in the exam room. But he needs to have his periodic checkups because of his thyroid condition. As he waited in his carrier beside me while I paid the bill before leaving for home, two big dogs came in with their owners. JJ vocalized his displeasure louder than I had ever heard. I quickly paid the bill and got him to the car where he settled down.

After a couple days, I noticed him sneezing. It got worse so I called the vet. Since JJ's blood work had all come back fine, he put him on Benadryl, along with vaporizer or steamy bathroom sessions, feeling his nares were irritated. A couple days later the vet called checking on his condition. At that time, JJ seemed much better. We thought the problem was solved! The vet went on vacation and — you guessed it — the sneezing worsened!

I gave him steamy bathroom sessions again, along with a little Benadryl seemed to help. I worried because his vet was out of town, so I made an appointment with a local vet in case the situation got worse and I needed to get JJ help quickly.

The sneezing went on, but it wasn’t as bad so I canceled the appointment and decided to wait until his vet got back.

Deciding that the stress of his previous appointment just may have brought out an opportunist respiratory infection that may have otherwise not surfaced to become a problem, the vet put him on medication for seven days. This regimen worked and in no time the sneezing ceased.
JJ is better and all is well with my little flock. Having such a knowledgeable vet to take care of my birds is such a good feeling.
What I have learned from this experience is some birds are more stressed by a visit to the veterinarian than others. This stress can affect their immune system, and in some cases does. Even if they have undergone testing with good results, it is always wise to keep an eye on your pet birds for a week or so to be sure that some opportunist bug doesn't rear its ugly head.

 If you see any unusual or new symptoms contact your avian vet right away.  If you have any experiences you'd like to share please leave a comment below.

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A Day At The Avian Vet

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Reader Comments
I love your articles!! You know just what to do for your birds. Maybe you can take me to my doctor appointments so I'm not stressed out, either. :)
Elba, Bloomingdale, OH
Posted: 8/27/2010 2:36:36 PM
My male Eclectus actually likes going to his doc. The staff talks, whistles and laughs with him (particularly when he wolf-whistles at one or two of them). Thankfully this is an avian and exotic only clinic so there are no scary dogs and cats to panic him.
MT, Westchester, NY
Posted: 8/4/2010 2:16:57 PM
I'm always appalled at the number of people that won't spend the money to take their birds to the Vet. Zeus my U2 is so good about grooming and Vet visits that I caution people not to destroy his trust in people. My Vet has a macaw of his own and is wonderful with birds. I think having a bird is a huge difference between Vets.
Charles, Orlando, FL
Posted: 8/4/2010 6:34:01 AM
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