How to choose a bird veterinarian

Ideally, find an Avian Exotic Animal Veterinarian before you purchase a bird. Make sure you have a suitable carrier handy so when an emergency does occur, you have a safe way to quickly transport your precious pet.


The BEST piece of advice I can give is finding a veterinarian before you have an emergency. Ideally, find an Avian Exotic Animal Veterinarian before you purchase a bird. Make sure you have a suitable carrier handy so when an emergency does occur, you have a safe way to quickly transport your precious pet.

Any veterinarian can call themself an avian veterinarian. An Avian Veterinarian who belongs to the Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV) is a veterinarian who has paid their dues to the Association of Avian Veterinarians. What determines a qualified avian veterinarian is a veterinarian who has Avian Certification from the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). Certification is given by the ABVP when an avian veterinarian has had six years of extensive, documented avian experience or formal training and has passed a series of complicated exams. There are less than 100 certified avian veterinarians worldwide.

There are many excellent avian veterinarians out there that don't have their certification from the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. But just because a veterinarian is interested in birds does not mean he is proficient enough to treat them. The best way to find a good avian veterinarian is word of mouth. Talk to other people that have birds. Call up rapture centers and find out who treats their birds. Speak to different breeders and organizations and find out who they use. One of these organizations might be the local herpetological society. Look through the yellow pages for veterinarians that treat exotic pets. Call them and see if they specifically treat birds. Get recommendations from regular veterinarians Talk to pet stores that handle birds for their recommendations. There is an excellent search engine on the AAV website to locate Avian Veterinarians.

After you compile a list of possible veterinarians, make an appointment to visit them and their clinic. Compare each practice before making a final determination. Discuss your expectations with the veterinarian. Look over the clinic, is it clean? How do the technicians interact with the animals? Can they be reached in an emergency? What are the procedures for an emergency after the clinic is closed? Who takes over the practice when the regular veterinarian is on vacation or is ill? Make sure you can communicate with the veterinarian you decide on. Birds are notorious for hiding their illness, your observations and communicating them to the veterinarian are crucial for your bird's health and well being. To find out how often they handle birds compared to other animals.

Does he continue his education and knowledge in the latest information in avian and exotic pet medicine? Is he a member of the AAV? Members of AAV are kept informed of the latest developments in avian medicine by reports in the journal published by the AAV. What kind of equipment and testing equipment do they have in their facility? What kind of special equipment do they have specifically for birds? What specialists do they have access to? Do they have access to and a good rapport with an Avian Certified Veterinarian? Alert, if you hand over the potential veterinarian a large macaw and the veterinarian looks terrified, look a little further on your list. Make sure the vet is comfortable handling the bird.

A good avian veterinarian will joyfully spend a great deal of time discussing your bird with you. He will offer suggestions on care and potential problems that could occur. Don't be afraid to ask your vet to clarify things you don't understand. Often when you show a great deal of interest, the veterinarian will spend more time with you. An avian veterinarian will be an invaluable ally to you and your bird. All these precautions may seem to be a time-waster until you have a real emergency or illness.

Emergency First Aid.

If your bird has been injured or poisoned your veterinarian may recommend emergency first aid before you even transport to the clinic. Have these items on hand so they are handy when he instructs an emergency procedure.


A carrier large enough to transport and contain your bird, if he needs to be kept calm, or needs to go to the veterinarian. Also, it is invaluable to have this carrier nearby in case of fire, earthquakes or floods.
Cotton swabs
Alcohol swabs
1" gauze tape
Vet wrap
Metal nail file
Tweezers or hemostats
Small scissors
Clean dish towels
1cc tuberculin syringes
Flexible tubing
12cc curved tip syringes
A net
Sterile saline solution
Neosporin Ointment
Benadryl (pink kapseals)

Items to avoid:

Toxic Houseplants
Ceiling Fans
Unsuitable toys with small chain links, metal clips, lead weights, balsa wood, plastic, and small bells.
Sandpaper-covered perches
Toxic fumes from non-stick-coated cookware, insecticides, and air pollutants.
Open doors that lead outside or can be slammed on a bird.
Sudden changes in temperatures
Boiling pots of food or water on the stove.
Open toilets.
Toys, that can cause strangulation.