When To Take Your Pet Bird to the Vet

Ideally, bird owners should take their pet birds to the vet at least once a year for checkup. In some cases, emergency vet visits may be necessary.

In this video, Dr. Laurie Hess talks about some common bird behaviors or actions that may require a veterinarian’s attention.

Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Dr. Laurie Hess, and this is my animal hospital bird, my bird Target. She’s very fun and interactive as you can see. We all love our pet birds but one thing that many people don’t think about is when should you take your bird to the vet.

I get asked that question a lot and unfortunately, most people don’t really think about this until there is a real emergency. So I do encourage all bird owners to think a little bit about the signs they might look for when they are considering bringing their bird to the vet, say, on emergency basis. And certainly we do recommend annual checkups that are non-emergency for birds to have their veterinarian so that the veterinarian can get to know your bird and know what’s normal for your bird, but sometimes, we do all have to take the bird to the vet on an emergency basis. So what are we going to look for?

Well, certainly, we would look for fluffing up. That’s a good one. So fluffing up and when the bird traps warm air between their bodies and their feathers, they’re trying to keep warm usually because they’re not feeling well. So when a bird gets fluffed up and stays fluffed up, that can be a sign of a problem.

Birds who are not vocalizing like Target here likes to chat a little bit as she’s doing here – if I saw that she wasn’t doing that, if birds get very quiet when they’re normally very vocal, that’s another sign to bring your bird to the vet.

Problems breathing – birds will often bob their tails up and down when they’re really trying to expand their lungs and sometimes, they’ll even breathe with their mouths open. That’s definitely a sign of a problem.

Birds who are not eating or who are vomiting or regurgitating after eating or who have very loose droppings – if there’s a lot of water in the droppings, that can be a sign of a kidney problem. Or if the droppings, the brown green part droppings isn’t formed, if it’s loose, that can be an indication that there’s diarrhea.

Birds who are hiding or tucked upif they keep their head under their wing and they are often sleeping more than normal, that could be a sign of being lethargic or really weak or tired, and that’s definitely a sign to go to the vet.

Other things that you might want to look for – neurologic problems. So birds who are shaking or seizuring or doing something inappropriate neurologically, again, that would be an emergency sign to go to the vet.

Birds who normally talk a lot and maybe they’re trying to vocalize and they sound really hoarse or squeaky – that can be a specific problem, sometimes, of a fungal infection even in their airway, so that’s another reason to go to the vet.

So I would say those are the big reasons. Whenever you really notice that there’s something off in your bird – you know your bird best. I definitely recommend that you have a good relationship with the veterinarian, and if your veterinarian isn’t open during the daytime or on certain days, the weekend, you should certainly be aware of a local vet near you who can treat your bird on emergency basis. If you prepare ahead, you can be ready for anything. In that way, if you do have a problem with your bird, then you’ll know where to go and what to do.

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