Choosing an Avian Veterinarian
By Renee Wilkey
One of the first things I suggest to people interested in purchasing a bird, is to find a veterinarian for their cockatiel before bringing it home. To begin their search, I give them a list of questions to ask a veterinary clinic in their area. Asking the following questions begins a relationship between the owner of the bird, and the veterinarian. It also establishes guidelines for you to work with before emergency strikes.
Do you provide medical care for caged birds? Cockatiels?
How long have you provided care for caged birds? Do you work with pet owners? Large breeding facilities?
What office hours do you have? Do you make house calls?
Are you available to handle emergencies?
In case of an emergency, how do I contact you?
What are your fees?
Do you have access to the Avian Associations of Veterinarians?
How do you keep current in the new practices of avian care?
Most veterinarians receive training in basic avian medical care, some veterinarians do not need to keep current as most of their clients are animals other than birds. Veterinarians may or may not feel comfortable working with breeding facilities that house many pairs of birds. Try to be specific and ask for what you need. If you are a pet bird owner, a veterinarian that handles pet birds is a good one for you. A veterinarian that has only handled pet birds but is willing to work with a larger breeding facility may be good for you if you have or will have more birds than a few pets. Make sure office hours are workable with your schedule. If you have a larger aviary it may be necessary to have a veterinarian that makes house calls. Make sure your veterinarian is available for emergencies. If you choose a veterinarian that makes house calls make sure that he/she is available for emergency house calls too. Emergency bird care must be supplied quickly. Birds are very good at hiding illness or injury. It is very important for you to know that your bird will receive the best of care available.
Don't be afraid to ask about fees! Know what the costs are. Good care could be expensive in some areas of the country. Be prepared for a medical emergency rather than loose the bird due to unexpected costs.
Ask about a veterinarian's relationship with the A.A.V. is a good indicator about whether a veterinarian is current in avian medical practice. If the veterinarian owns a current copy of "Avian Medicine: Principals and Applications" by Ritchie, Harrison and Harrison. read avian journals and have access to other avian veterinarians for consultation, you can feel more assured. Medicine for birds is an ever changing process. There is much to be said about the research that is going on many of the avian species, it is very important for the veterinarian to stay updated to new and better procedures.
I have a veterinarian that makes house calls during emergencies, has back up care for my flock in the event that he is on vacation. The clinic offers 24 hour care for emergencies. I have established a routine check up for all of my birds yearly. The just weaned babies are veterinary checked before establishing them in my aviary or offering them for sale. I have newly purchased birds examined during their quarantine time. This helps to correct a problem if there is one and to establish guidelines on what is normal for the particular bird. (My veterinarian offers a necropsy service. This may sound morbid, but this service is valuable in my breeding program. I want to know the reason for an unexpected death of a baby bird in nest to correct any problems immediately.) My veterinarian has become a valuable tool in the management of my breeding program. I have had wonderful success due to his unfailing dedication and the vast knowledge he so willingly shares.
CHOOSE A VETERINARIAN WISELY! I wish you success. You will find as I have what a wonderful resource a good veterinarian is.