Questions, you might have, have been compiled from our existing clients. The goal of this section is to provide answers to those questions. We will expand this section as future email comments are compiled.
1. How does one choose an Avian Veterinarian?
As people relocate to various parts of this globe, how does one find a GOOD avian veterinarian? We recommend the following: 1. They should be a member of AAV, an organization that promotes advanced avian medicine. 2. One should call pet stores/other vets in the area for a referral. Usually, one or two names will come up often if the avian vet has an established well-respected practice. 3. Call the clinic you are thinking of visiting and ask how many birds they see per month. This is most critical if they see only a few, as it is difficult for a veterinarian to stay current on avian medicine if they spend most of their time treating dogs and cats. 4. Make an appointment for a general examination to meet the veterinarian to see if you and your bird have a good rapport. The worst time to meet a new veterinarian is during an emergency situation.
2. Do birds really need a Yearly Check-up?
This is one of the MOST asked questions. Clients often say, "But my bird looks healthy!". Unfortunately, this may seem true, but most humans "appear" healthy also and then suddenly succumb to heart attacks, seizures, and incurable cancers. Birds, being wild, non-domesticated species, are better at hiding symptoms of disease compared to humans or dogs and cats. This is why an annual exam including blood testing is so important to pick up problems before they become incurable. Your goal is for your veterinarian to say after your bird's yearly exam "Your bird looks great, keep up the good work."
3. How should I budget when purchasing a New Bird?
A person should place the following items in their "basket" when budgeting for a new avian pet. 1. The pet bird. 2. A proper cage (often more costly than the bird). 3. Toys and food supplies. and 4. A "New bird examination and testing" from a qualified avian veterinarian. Analogies on the human side would be 1. The baby 2. The crib 3. Baby supplies and 4. A "New baby examination and testing" by a qualified pediatrician.
We all want to assume our new bird or baby is healthy, but the right professional can assure you of this fact and avoid heart wrenching conditions down the road.
4. How safe is it to board my Bird?
This is the SECOND most asked question. The answer would seem easy, but many things should be taken into consideration to ensure the safety of one's pet bird. Most of the diseases of concern are airborne, meaning if the bird is in a room with other birds and one has a disease, your bird is at risk! The three diseases of most concern are Psittacosis, Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD), Polyoma (PVD) and after AAV 2004, Psittacid Herpes 1 (PsHV-1). Only Psittacosis is treatable if you catch it in time (They can die within hours).
Questions to ask a boarding facility.
a. Are ALL the birds required to be tested and proven negative for the above diseases? If some are and others are not......is that really safe? Do you want to trust the life of your pet bird on someone's word that "those other birds are healthy."
b. Are the birds vaccinated to protect against Polyoma virus? There are no vaccines yet available for the other viral diseases.
c. Are all species placed in one room? Some species, no matter what testing is done, should not be housed together as their safety cannot be fully assessed (i.e. New World species vs Old World species and certain New World species with other New World species).
d. How is air circulation in the facility? Even if birds are separated, if all the air is recirculated then it really is a "one bird room."
e. How often are cages cleaned? What antimicrobial agents are used and are they safe around birds?
f. What care does your pet bird receive? Will they feed what you feed at home if you supply it? Are they given any fresh foods? Do they have a veterinarian available if something was to go wrong?
Many tragedies have been presented to The BIRD Clinic during and even weeks after a boarding experience in a questionably safe environment. Some diseases have long incubations times with the owner's assumption that their beloved pet was safe. BE AWARE! BE PREPARED! BE SAFE!
5 . How old can an exotic bird live to be in captivity?
Even though the headlines sounds amazing and make great news, one must look deeper for the real truth. The BIRD Clinic received over 50 calls regarding this article in the National Inquirer since Dr. Nemetz dismisses urban legend of exotic birds routinely living into their 80's, 90's or over a 100 years of age.
There have been many stories such as this one, but documentation or facts are lacking. Again, in this situation if one looks closer at the two pictures supposedly representing the same bird, they are but two DIFFERENT species of macaw. Winston Churchill had a Greenwing Macaw (on his right shoulder) and the bird purported to be the centurion is a Blue and Gold Macaw. Exotic birds in captivity can live longer than their wild counterparts, but diet still plays the largest role in their longevity. Unfortunately still today, even though Dr. Nemetz has seen a few birds documented into their fifties, most species on average never make it into their thirties without a better diet than seeds and fruits.