How to keep avian patients alive (Proceedings)
It is a clinical challenge when veterinarians have to treat avian patients. It is the thoughtful use of therapeutic procedures on a debilitated patient that is often correlated to the successful outcome of a case presentation.
When a veterinarian enters the exam room ready to question the owner regarding their beloved companion bird, care and expertise is expected. It is not only important to get a good history and understand the techniques needed to provide a professional service but also to inform and educate the owner regarding information on a pet they may have little expertise and knowledge regarding husbandry and health. It is important for veterinarians to gain continuing educational support to add specific avian medical information to the technician's basic veterinary knowledge already learned through professional training and expertise. When establishing or expanding a species group within a practice, veterinary and referral support is important when faced with "in house" questions about a patient's condition or care. When treating and collecting diagnostic samples from avian patients proper equipment must be used. This is a small but important investment for a practice to make in order to provide the quality of service that clients have come to expect. A basic history following an avian line of questioning not only provides information focused on the presenting problem, but also allows one to review deficiencies of husbandry or nutritional care. Any problems noted with owner care or nutritional offerings should be discussed with the owner in an educational manner. As mentioned previously it is not unusual for new avian animal owners to be totally unaware of the proper measures to care for and feed their feathered friends.When taking the history of an avian case we try to follow the same protocol for each patient. We have separate history forms printed out for each exotic animal species, including birds. We believe if you do not ask the question client usually will not you that particular information. It is very important to ask the right questions about the bird being examined. Initial background information, other than the basic data required for the registration form, includes length of time owned, previous owner, vaccination history, placement of cage was or flight, how often is the bird handled character of the feces and when was the last molt.
Husbandry issues are a common source of illness and trauma to companion avian species. Questions should be asked about the cage location, substrate, size of cage, cage material, cleaning, disinfect and perches/toys. As questions are asked during the interview, a more detailed explanation may be needed if it is determined that there is a potential problem area. The other major component of questioning centers on the nutrition provided and ingested by the bird. Type of food being offered and the daily amount being offered are the first questions asked in this section. A more important question for the owner is not what the bird is being fed, but what it is eating. Water source, water container and how often the water is changed are included in the nutritional section.
Finally quarantine procedures and new bird acquisitions should be covered during the case review. These questions will coincide with a review of the bird population at the owner's house and if the patient was housed alone or in a group. After questioning, the owner needs to review any past medical problems and give the veterinarian a specific historic description of the current medical problem(s).