October was National Pet Wellness Month, and the theme this year was "Twice a year for life," which was to encourage pet owners to take their animals to a veterinarian every six months. Because this annual observation traditionally focuses on dogs and cats, the California Veterinary Medical Association, (CVMA) issued a press release specifically for bird owners. It suggested that pet-bird owners reassess their birds’ nutritional and behavioral needs.
"The life expectancy of a bird can be 30 years or [longer]," said CVMA President Eric Weigand, DVM. "But many birds die much earlier because of poor diets. Malnutrition can result in numerous disorders that damage the respiratory and digestive system as well as the skin, liver, bones, feathers and beak."
Healthy birds can be long-time companions if owners follow a few basic pet care steps: balanced diet, behavior management, and regular veterinary examinations, according to CVMA.
"Many times, I won't see a parrot for a first checkup until it's 20 years old, and that's too late," says Dr. Alan Fudge, owner of Bird Doctor House Calls and president of the California Avian Laboratory. "By that time, a condition is chronic or life threatening."
Owners often are pleasantly surprised to see how a change in care routines eliminates a bird's nervous habit or health problem. "Birds, by nature, are highly intelligent and social creatures and benefit from attention by their owners," said Dr. Fudge.