The importance of well-bird visits: Why should I take my healthy bird to the vet?

Written by Dr. Jesse Fallon

Maybe you recently acquired a new bird, or perhaps you have cared for your pet parrot for decades. Your feathered companion seems healthy as could be.  There is no reason to take him or her to the vet, right?

Wrong.  In fact, nothing is further from the truth.  Even though some of our pet birds can “talk,” they can’t tell us how they are feeling. Furthermore, birds inherently hide illnesses, and even the most astute owners may miss symptoms of illness. There are many important reasons that your parrot should have regular veterinary exams, even if he or she seems healthy.  Below are my top 4 reasons for healthy pet bird visits.

1.)    Beak-to-tail physical exam

A thorough physical exam is the perhaps the most important diagnostic tool at your avian veterinarian’s disposal.  During a physical exam your veterinarian will check for abnormalities in all organ systems. This includes evaluation of the feathers, skin, eyes, ears, nose, heart, lungs, airsacs, vent, etc. This physical exam can help identify subtle changes that may indicate a more serious problem.

2.)    Laboratory testing

Early in the course of disease many birds show no symptoms; they are particularly good at hiding sickness. Routine laboratory testing including fecal analysis and blood work can help identify illness early.  This allows for early intervention, which may include medication, dietary alterations, or environmental adjustments to help keep your bird healthy, and can also provide a valuable baseline for future testing should your bird get sick.  Your veterinarian can collect these samples stress-free during your next wellness visit.

3.)    Expert advice

Your avian vet has firsthand experience with common psittacine maladies, including behavioral challenges such as feather destructive behavior, disruptive vocalization, and misdirected reproductive behavior.  These common behavioral conditions can be frustrating, but a consultation with your veterinarian can help you take steps to reduce these unwanted behaviors.  Just like with your own health, consulting with your pet’s doctor is the best way to get accurate, reliable answers to your health questions.  While researching avian health on your own can be helpful, determining which information is reliable and which is not is like finding a needle in a haystack.

4.)    Develop and maintain a relationship with your vet

When your bird is a regular patient, your avian veterinarian knows your pet’s medical history, diet, environment, behavioral quirks etc. This helps with directing diagnostic tests and deciding on appropriate treatment options. When your bird gets sick, you can be confident that your veterinarian who you already know and trust will make the best decisions for your pet.