As with ourselves, preventive medicine, regular checkups and emergency preparedness are important for the health and well-being of our pet bird companions.
Avian veterinarian near you and regular checkups for your bird
The first step to providing regular checkups for your bird is to find a good veterinarian. Because avian medicine is so different from dog and cat or large animal medicine, it is important to find a vet who has direct experience — and preferably specialized training — with birds. The best-case scenario is to find a board-certified avian vet. If a board-certified avian vet is not available near you, try to find someone who is at least experienced with birds. Most veterinarians who regularly practice avian medicine, whether they are board-certified or not, are members of the Association of Avian Veterinarians. You can go to the association’s website and look in the member directory for the vet who is closest to you.
If you cannot find an avian vet near you, the best thing to do is to find the closest one — even if he or she is several hours’ drive away — and make the trek to have the vet do a baseline exam on your bird. Once the vet has examined your bird, he/she can legally advise and collaborate with other vets who are caring for your bird.
The next step is to find a dog and cat vet in your area who is willing to see your bird and collaborate with your long-distance avian vet in order to get advice and instructions. That way, if your bird gets sick or injured and you don’t have time to drive her to your avian vet, you can take her to your local vet and have your local vet consult with your long-distance avian vet to help treat your bird.
Whatever veterinary solution you come up with, it is always a good idea to take your bird to your vet for a baseline exam, and then follow your vet’s recommendations for wellness visits and diagnostic testing.
Bird first aid kit and emergency preparedness
First aid is also an important facet of caring for your companion parrot. Unfortunately, first aid classes for birds don’t exist yet, but there are a few good books and websites that give instructions about what you need in your first aid kit and explain how to perform basic first aid on your bird. The best and most user-friendly resources currently available are the book First Aid for Birds: An Owner’s Guide to a Happy, Healthy Pet by Julie Rach and Gary Gallerstein, DVM, and a nice article called “How to Make a First Aid Kit for Your Bird.”
There’s also an article called “The Bird Scout Motto” in the The Bird Owner’s Manual on making a disaster preparedness kit. It is indispensable for learning how to be prepared for an emergency such as a hurricane, tornado, fire or flood, or other scenarios where you would have to get your birds out fast and may be in limbo for several days.