Myths & Health


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Myths & Health

Putting To Rest Some Myths Concerning Avian Health by George Messenger DVM
Myth 1: Birds hide their illnesses. Their instincts allow them to be ill without showing us any symptoms of illness until it is usually too late.
Truth: We just haven't been paying close enough attention ("we" meaning the average bird owner and veterinarian).
 
Myth 2 Birds are fragile and die quickly and easily when they get sick.
Truth: Birds are very hardy creatures; no more fragile than anything else. This myth is also tied into myth no l.
 
Myth 3: Most diseases of birds are bacterial infections – therefore, most of the time we can simply treat them with an antibiotic and they will get better.
Truth:  Birds do get bacterial infections, but they get many other diseases. Host diseases of birds are related to inadequate care and improper diet, which can but does not: always result in bacterial infections.
 
Myth 4: The place to call when a bird gets sick is the pet store where the bird was purchased
Truth:  Most pet stores do not have a trained knowledgeable staff well versed in avian disease treatment. A competent avian veterinarian is the one to call. Diseases are not diagnosed over the phone – birds need to be examined and worked up in order to be diagnosed and properly treated.
 
Myth 5:  Vitamin fortified seed mixes are a complete and balanced diet.
Truth:  Seeds lack 21 nutrients from 4 groups – protein, minerals, trace minerals, and vitamins. Birds that eat seeds seem to be "addicted" and it may be difficult to change their eating habits.
 
Myth 6:  Birds should have vitamins added to their drinking water.
Truth:  Vitamins oxidize and break down very soon after being added to the drinking water. They can pollute the water and also provide a nice substrate for bacterial growth also. This does more harm than good probably.
 
Myth 7:  Most birds that pick at themselves and/or pull out their feathers have mites.
Truth:   Mites in birds, other than scaly-face mites in budgies, are very rare. Most birds that pick or excessively preen have either a medical or psychological problem.
 

Recipe for a Healthy Bird ( How to keep Your Bird Healthy) by George Messenger DVM

bulletEducate yourself about proper care, diet, species specifics, etc. You can never learn enough – there is always new information. 
bulletPay attention to your bird. Your pet depends on you. You must be aware of subtle signs of illness and be able to notice them. You need to know when something isn't right.
bulletEstablish a working relationship with an avian veterinarian. Find out about their abilities, policies, philosophies, and even shortcomings.  Be informed about his availability for emergencies – have backup vet if at all possible.
bulletHave your bird examined at least yearly. This should include a physical exam, weight, discussion about behavior and nutrition, and possibly lab testing (bloodwork, gram stains and/or cultures, x-ray , etc.).
bulletNEVER EXPOSE YOUR BIRD TO OTHER BIRDS OF UNKNOWN HEALTH STATUS!!!
bulletFeed a healthy diet. This is a huge subject – some advise in a nutshell:  Tend towards less seed.  Feed foods free of pesticides, preservatives and artificial color, (strive for organic foods). Beans, pasta, rice, veggies, fruits, cereals. PELLETED DIETS IF AT ALL POSSIBLE. Avoid fatty and salty and sweet foods and caffeine and chocolate and avocados.
bulletFresh clean safe water at all times.
bulletClean air – NO SMOKE; beware of PTFE (Teflon) fumes, heaters
bulletPull spectrum lighting
bulletProper cage – lots of space, made of proper materials, spacing between bars appropriate, good perches. Avoid overcrowding. The bigger the better. Escape proof.
bulletProvide things for your bird to do – toys. "Environmental enrichment".
bulletAs much exercise as possible
bulletAllow your bird to bathe – provide water, sprays, shower, etc.
bulletAvoid accidents – animals, wings trimmed vs. not trimmed, unsafe toys.
bulletAvoid exposure to toxins – heavy metals (esp lead, zinc), Teflon, heaters.
bulletProvide as stress-free an environment as possible.

George A. Messenger DVM Phone (603) 229-0674 Fax (603) 229-0697 FISHERVILLE ANIMAL HOSPITAL and BIRD CLINIC 108 FISHERVILLE ROAD CONCORD, N.H, 03303

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