Thursday, December 1, 2011

Avian vet

It's 2:30am, you hear a crashing sound in your bird's cage and rush to investigate. Your bird has crashed to the bottom of the cage from a night fright and appears to have a broken wing. What do you do? Hopefully you never find yourself in this position but if you do, are you prepared? Often the most critical part of any emergency plan is having a good Avian Vet. And 2:30am is NOT the time to fumble through the yellow pages to find an avian vet. Right now is the time to start your search for an avian vet BEFORE you have an emergency! Here are the top ten questions to ask when looking for a good avian vet.
  1. Are They Recommended? - Use all available sources to create a list of recommended avian vets in your area. Here's a list to start with. Can you think of more?
    • Local, State and National veterinary associations
    • Local Veterinary schools
    • Local and National pet and bird groups
    • Local Animal Shelters
    • Local Pet owners
    • Local Pet breeders
    • Local Pet stores
    • Local Yellow pages and newspapers for veterinarians
    • Local avian rescues and sanctuaries
    • Local Zoos
    • Your friends and family
    • Internet Search Engines
    • Internet bird boards and forums
  2. Are They Avian Certified? - Check to see if they're a Board-Certified Avian Veterinarian and/or a member of the Association of Avian Veterinarians. Warning Flag - If they are not certified or a member, this doesn't immediately disqualify them. But it should raise a very serious warning flag.
  3. Do They Treat Birds? - Not all veterinarians treat birds so be sure to ask if they treat birds. If they do, ask them how many avian patients they have and how frequently they have avian patients. Do their patients routinely visit them or do they use them mostly for emergency cases? If most of their patients use them for routine checkups then that may indicate that they have a happy and dependable patient list. Warning Flag - If they mostly treat emergencies then it may be an indicator that they are just the most convenient vet and not necessarily the most qualified. Don't forget to ask how long they've been treating avian patients.
  4. Will They Provide References? - If they're willing to provide references, call the references. Ask the references if they're willing to give you additional names of people and contact information for people that also use the veterinarian and call them too. Warning Flag - Refusal to give references should be a warning flag.
  5. Are They Up To Date? - How do they stay current on avian knowledge, procedures and treatments? Avian veterinarian science isn't as mature as that for dogs and cats so it's important for veterinarians to keep up to date on the latest procedures and technologies. Warning Flag - It may be difficult to evaluate their plan for staying current but they should at least HAVE a plan.
  6. Is Their Facility Clean and Orderly? - Take a tour of their facilities and don't forget to leave the pets and kids at home for this tour so you don't cause any disruptions. This should be just a quick walk-through tour and not a site-seeing guided tour. Are all areas (public AND non-public) clean and orderly? Obviously all areas won't be dining room clean but you should get the impression that all areas are routinely cleaned. Warning Flag - If they won't allow a quick walk through tour this could be an indication that they have something to hide.
  7. What Are Their Hours of Operation and Emergency Plans? - What are their normal working hours? Do their normal hours mesh well with your work/school/family schedule or if not, are they flexible? More importantly, what is their plan for emergencies that occur after normal working hours? Warning Flag - Not having a plan for after hour emergencies is a major problem. Murphy's law dictates that this is a requirement.
  8. What Type of Personal Pets Do They Have? - Does your vet have pet birds at home? While this is obviously not a disqualification, it gives you an idea about their interests and may indicate their area of expertise.
  9. OMG! It Costs HOW much?!?!?!? - Compare their cost of routine services to other comparable vets. While this shouldn't be high on your list of qualifications, it should be considered. Warning Flag - Routine costs being abnormally high or abnormally low could be a warning flag. If their costs are way out of line compared to other vets, make sure you ask why their costs are not comparable to other comparable vets services.
  10. What is Their Staff Like? - Make sure to interact with their supporting staff when contacting the vet and when visiting the vet. They should be courteous, helpful and knowledgeable. The Proverb "Birds of a feather flock together" is very appropriate in this situation. A good vet will surround themselves with a good supporting staff and a good supporting staff will flock to a good vet. Warning Flag - If the vets entire organization doesn't work well together, this may be a warning flag of other problems in the office.
Selecting your avian veterinarian may be the most important decision you make for your pet. You owe it to your pet to make a careful and informed decision. So please use this top ten list to help make your decision BEFORE you and your pet bird have an emergency requiring a good vet.
The Author is the creator of the It's a webpage dedicated to Kibibi a Congo African Grey Parrot with parrot recordings, funny parrot videos, top ten lists, parrot jokes, clicker training info and a large database of parrot articles. For more articles about African Greys and other Parrots, check out Kibibi's Parrot Article Archive.

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