You need to plan ahead before you bring a bird into your home. Part of that planning should include a same-day wellness visit to a reputable veterinarian since there is no way to be sure a bird is completely healthy just by looking at it. After a physical examination, the veterinarian may discuss screening your new bird with laboratory tests. Simple tests can be done at the hospital, such as looking at droppings and oral secretions for abnormal bacteria using a Gram stain or checking the droppings for parasites. However, additional tests are often needed particular for birds that have been around many other birds. The importance of this additional testing cannot be ignored -- one study using protein electrophoresis, a kind of blood test, revealed that 30% of seemingly healthy birds had undetected infectious or inflammatory disease. Specific tests for psittacosis (also known as parrot fever or chlamydophilosis), Pacheco's virus, and psittacine beak and feather disease may be important especially if you have other birds at home. If the Gram stain suggests abnormal bacteria are present then microbiological cultures and sensitivities should be performed so that the right antibiotic can be chosed to treat the infection. Your new bird can have its sex determined by saliva, blood, or feather samples to confirm that you got what you paid for or to learn what you got. When you are budgeting for a new bird, make sure you remember to include money for a thorough health check!
Behavioral disorders are a frequent issue identified in companion parrots and one study revealed that 36% of owners felt their bird had a behavioral problem. Feather destructive behavior, more commonly known as feather-picking or feather-plucking, was the most common behavior problem seen by veterinarians and the fourth most common behavioral problem identified by owners. This issue can result from both medical and behavioral causes.
Psittacine Circovirus (Psittacine Circoviral Disease or PCD) is a viral infection that is spread easily through feathers and feces. It affects parrots and other psittacine birds and causes the loss of feathers, usually on the chest or thighs. In some birds, such as Eclectus, king parrots, and lorikeets, the early signs may be a change in color, with affected feathers showing streaks of white, yellow, or black. Cockatoos and parrots often show loss of the powder down first since powder down is replaced often; it may take a few molts to see changes in coverlets and other feathers. With time, the feather loss involves the wings and the rest of the body. Early in the infection, feathers may grow in to replace the missing ones. These regrown feathers are abnormally-shaped and easily break at their bases. As the infection progresses, new feathers do not grow and old ones are not replaced. Infected birds may show excessive abnormal growth of the beak and toenails. The beak and nails curl in unusual shapes. The beak and nails may flake, crack, and develop soft areas that are weak and may break. Yeast and other infections may develop in cracks of the beak and nails. Beaks can become so severely affected that the bird can no longer feed on its own.
Biting is one of the most common behavior problems noted in pet parrots.
To ensure the health of your bird and the safety of your household, Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital recommends the following Wellness Program:
Birds can injure themselves quite easily in the typical household. It is important to "bird proof" your home so that you lessen the chance of serious accidents.
Birds have a very complicated sinus system (a part of the respiratory tract) with lots of interconnecting air pockets that can readily get infected. Infections can start in one site and move through the sinus system to attack most areas of the skull. A severe infection means that many affected birds will die without treatment.
Scaley skin is a common problem in captive birds. On the feet the skin may appear as a white powdery to flakey substance, or develop a thick build-up of dry yellow material. On the body beneath the feathers you may see a spiderweb of dry skin, sometimes with patches of yellow or tan crusts. Scaley skin can be caused by a variety of problems. An imbalanced, particularly one that is low in vitamin A or ones that have an imbalance of
When a bird is very ill, it is often recommended that a “hospital cage” be created at home to provide an optimal environment for recovery. It is best to have a designated cage for this before an illness occurs in order to be well prepared. Your veterinarian will make specific recommendations for you based on your individual birds problem but the following information is often adequate for most basic at home hospital cages.
Endoscopes are small "telescopes" that are used to have a look at the internal organs of an animal. Just as a veterinarian does a thorough physical examination of the outside of the body, the endoscope allows a veterinarian to do the same sort of examination of the bird's internal organs to assess their health. This is extremely helpful to determine an underlying cause for many illnesses that elude detection through bloodwork and other routine diagnostic labwork.