By Cioli & Hunnicutt/Bowtie Studio/Courtesy Carinu Tafulu
Your avian veterinarian will draw blood to perform a complete blood count (CBC) test.
An experienced avian veterinarian is comfortable drawing blood, even from small birds, and will be able to calculate the amount of blood he or she can safely take from the bird's body weight. Many avian vets draw blood from the bird in the examination room in front of the owner. The most common site from which blood is drawn is from the jugular vein, on the right side of the neck.
The pet bird is commonly restrained in a towel and held so that it is lying on its side. Then, either the vet alone or the vet and an assistant grasp the bird’s head, locate the vein by putting alcohol on the neck, and then gently draw a small amount of blood into a syringe.
After taking blood, the vet puts gentle pressure on the neck for a minute or two to ensure there is no further bleeding before releasing the bird. Other than to check a red blood cell count or a blood sugar level, or if the bird is too ill to be restrained for blood sampling from the neck, taking blood from a toenail clip is not recommended, because any debris on a toenail can interfere with blood test results.
Once the veterinarian is assured that the pet bird has recovered safely from the blood draw and the physical examination is complete, the veterinarian should return the pet to its owner and offer to help the owner get the bird back into its travel carrier. The vet should ask the owner whether he or she has any questions and should offer the owner some idea as to when tests results will be back.
An experienced avian vet will then follow up with the owner on the telephone, after the visit, to report test results and to see how the pet bird is doing at home.
A Lifelong Commitment
Choosing a pet bird, often a lifelong companion, can be a complicated process. Choosing an avian vet for that lifelong companion should not be a complicated process. An experienced avian vet should be patient, confident, and knowledgeable. An owner should feel at ease with the vet, as the vet-owner-patient relationship is essential to ensuring a bird’s health. A solid vet-owner-patient relationship begins at the first veterinary visit, and I hope that this thumbnail sketch of the first trip to the avian vet will give bird owners an idea of what to expect.
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