|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
- 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
- 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
|Educate yourself about proper care, diet, species specifics, etc.
You can never learn enough there is always new information. |
|Pay 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. |
|Establish 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.
|Have 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.). |
|NEVER EXPOSE YOUR BIRD TO OTHER BIRDS OF UNKNOWN HEALTH STATUS!!! |
|Feed 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. |
|Fresh clean safe water at all times. |
|Clean air NO SMOKE; beware of PTFE (Teflon) fumes,
|Pull spectrum lighting |
|Proper cage lots of space, made of proper materials,
spacing between bars appropriate, good perches. Avoid overcrowding. The bigger the better.
Escape proof. |
|Provide things for your bird to do toys.
"Environmental enrichment". |
|As much exercise as possible |
|Allow your bird to bathe provide water, sprays, shower,
|Avoid accidents animals, wings trimmed vs. not trimmed,
unsafe toys. |
|Avoid exposure to toxins heavy metals (esp lead, zinc),
|Provide 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