Sunday, February 17, 2008

Necessity of Avian Veterinary Care

The AVMA survey indicated both good and bad news for avian practitioners. On the negative side, pet bird owners overall are not likely to seek veterinary care. In 2001, only 11.7% of bird owners in the USA reported at least one veterinary visit. In comparison, 83.6% of dog owners and 65.3% of cat owners reported at least one veterinary visit in 2001. On the positive side, however, a 6 year survey indicated the average number of veterinary visits for pet birds actually increased. An estimated 2 million avian veterinary visits occurred in 2001, compared to 1.6 million in 1996. This represents a solid increase in demand for the services of avian veterinarians. More evidence for this conclusion can be seen in the fact that veterinary expenditures for bird owners increased dramatically from 37 million dollars in 1991 to 135 million dollars in 2001.

It is interesting to note those veterinary services most commonly purchased for pet birds. Examinations are purchased most frequently, followed by laboratory tests, then emergency care. While many bird-owning clients appreciate the value of preventive medicine, far too many others consult the avian veterinarian only in time of medical crisis.

Slightly more than half of surveyed clients selected their regular dog and cat veterinarian to provide care for their avian pets. Encouragingly enough, 24.2% made their selection based on the fact that the veterinarian was a bird specialist. (Note that this survey does not distinguish between veterinarians who are board-certified avian specialists and those claiming a "special interest" in avian medicine.) Discouragingly, just as many clients chose a veterinarian based simply on location.

It is obvious avian practitioners have a great deal of work to do to catch up to our fellow dog and cat practitioners. While bird owners who do seek regular veterinary care are generally seeking a higher quality of care and more frequent visits for their pets, it is obvious the great majority of bird owners either are unaware such services are available or not convinced of their value.

Reference: "Cinical Avian Medicine - Vol I & II" by Harrison and Lightfoot.

Speical Note from Bird Lovers Only Rescue: Birds are expert at masking their illnesses and many bird owners believe them to be healthy because of it....until they wake up one morning to find their bird dead at the bottom of the cage without any previous signs or warnings to indicate that something was wrong. Dogs and cats do not mask their illnesses as birds do because birds behave instinctively to demonstrate health and strength in the wild to avoid appearing vulnerable to other birds and predators. This instinctive behavior does not change in your home. Please take your birds in for yearly exams and tests to a board-certified avian veterinarian. You can find one close to you by going to We thank you!