Pet Birds and Your Vet
Birds are popular pets throughout Australia, but unfortunately they are often the ‘overlooked’ family pet when it comes time for them to be ‘off colour’. From finches to cockatoos, pet caged birds provide companionship, entertainment and interest for their owners. Budgerigars are the most commonly kept cage-bird, while canaries, lovebirds, finches, galahs and various parrots and cockatoos are favoured by others.
Regardless of how well cared for a bird is, a multitude of illnesses can affect it. Many of these are related to stress, poor nutrition, caging or age. Unfortunately, sick birds all tend to look the same regardless of their complaint. The most common signs are fluffing or ruffling of the feathers, drooping eyelids, head tucked under a wing and perhaps bobbing of the tail. Any of these for a prolonged time indicates that a bird is quite ill, as most birds try to hide the fact that they are sick for as long as possible. This is an instinctive behaviour aimed at minimising the chances of being attacked by predators.
Your Veterinarian is trained to help you treat your bird’s illness. While a phone call to the clinic may help, a visit may be necessary for proper diagnosis because, as mentioned above, most sick birds show the same signs.
For example, diarrhea may be due to 10 or more causes. There are several tips for taking birds to your Vet:
Take your bird in its own cage without removing any toys etc.
Leave food in the cage but remove water.
DO NOT clean the cage, as valuable diagnostic evidence may be destroyed.
Take with you any remedies or medicines you have been giving at home.
Be prepared to answer questions concerning signs you’ve seen, feeding, length of illness and environment.
Modern veterinary science is placing increasing importance on pet birds as ‘companion animals’, the same as dogs and cats, and treatment for most illnesses is available. Surgery on birds is performed on a regular basis for things such things as fracture repair, tumour excisions and wound suturing.
As some pet birds are destined to live many years (decades in the case of galahs and cockatoos) their health can be better maintained by attention to their basic care, nutrition and caging.