Bird Vet

Bird Veterinarian Serving Akron, Barberton & Wadsworth OH

From finches to ostriches, birds are our specialty. Our bird vet, Dr. Riggs, was the first board certified avian specialist in Ohio and has 30 years of bird veterinarian practice and experience. Our staff is experienced in all facets of bird care. Birds are highly intelligent, social animals with special needs. We can help you get started with your first bird or help you care for that elderly feathered family member. They are masters of hiding their problems, so routine check-ups are essential for long term health. To accomplish the goal of health, we provide the following bird veterinary care in Akron, Barberton, Wadsworth, and surrounding Ohio areas:

Bird Routine Exams

Routine thorough physical examinations are the cornerstones of a total health plan for your bird. Birds are notorious for hiding subtle and not-so-subtle signs of illness for long periods. Often, by the time a problem is apparent to you, it has progressed to very serious levels. By examing your pet on a routine basis we can spot early or potential problems and work to correct them before they progress. As a valuable adjunct to the physical exam we recommend select laboratory testing to give us your bird’s full health picture.

Bird Wellness Exams

Wellness exams are a combination of a thorough exam/consultation and a select group of laboratory tests. Different types and ages of birds will call for different recommended tests, so we have designed various discounted screens that allow test substitution to best meet your pet’s needs in a cost effective format.

As previously mentioned, birds’ abilities to hide problems can often pose difficulties in assessing your pets’ health. For this reason, we will recommend bloodwork in healthy APPEARING birds. First, tests may show an underlying or early problem that needs correction. Secondly, if normal, this gives us your pets’ baseline values for future tests to compare to allowing us to determine if your pet is having a problem or not. In birds, an ounce of prevention is worth a TON of cure. Feel free to ask us what tests or health screens will be best for your bird.

Examples of Tests Offered:

  • COMPLETE BLOOD COUNT (CBC): A CBC is great laboratory tool that allows a veterinarian to “peek” inside your bird. By assessing the variety of blood parameters we can detect infections, viral diseases, blood parasites, response to disease, and states of anemia to name a few. This test can be done in our office at the time of your bird’s exam to aid in our ability to assess your pet’s health.
  • BLOOD PROFILING: A blood profile or serum chemistry series is a group of blood tests used to assess various organ functions or disease states. Kidney function, liver abnormalities, pancreatic disease are but a few of the conditions a blood profile can help evaluate.
  • SEROLOGIC TESTING/SPECIFIC DISEASE TESTS:
    Serologic tests use a combination of technologies (including state-of-the-art DNA probe tests) to screen your pet for the presence of various contagious diseases. Some examples of common tests used are:

    • CHLAMYDIA TESTING: Chlamydia, or parrot fever, is a contagious bacterial disease of birds that is also potentially contagious to humans. A variety of symptoms can be displayed and some birds can be healthy acting carriers. Although a culture is the “gold standard” for testing, a number of different tests are available to use in different situations to screen for this important disease.
    • PBFD: Psittacine beak and feather disease is a viral disease capable of infecting a wide variety of bird species. This potentially fatal disease can progress slowly or rapidly and involve a range of feather and beak lesions. Although no cure is currently available, this test can be used to help screen for the presence or absence of this disease in your pet.
    • POLYOMA: Polyoma virus is another potentially devastating disease of pet birds that has a variety of presentations and outcomes. Lesions can involve feathers or cause widespread tissue destruction and acute illness. Testing as well as a vaccine is available for this disease.
    • PACHECO’S: Pacheco’s disease is a highly infective herpes virus of birds. Disease can be rapid, widespread, and fatal or sporadic with asymptomatic carriers. DNA testing is now available to help detect and prevent this catastrophic disease.

Bird Nutrition

Nothing is more important for your pets’ long-term health and well-being than a proper nutrition plan. The majority of commonly diagnosed illnesses in pet birds have poor nutrition as part of their cause. If your bird is sick, the proper food is essential to help their immune system recover from the illness or fight off disease exposures.

With over 8000 species of birds, there is no one diet that is suitable for them all. We feel an important part of your pet’s annual wellness exam and consultation is to help you structure the best diet possible for your pet. In general terms, we will utilize a combination of organic pellets, FRESH HUMAN-GRADE seed mixes, vegetables, nuts, and fruit to balance their diet for taste, calories, and nutritional content. Seeds being very high in fat and devoid of needed vitamins should be avoided or at least minimized in your pets’ diet. Where pelleted diets cannot be used, great care must be taken to balance your birds diet for caloric intake and vitamin/mineral content.

Both WHAT is fed and HOW a diet is fed are important to your bird. Food “hunting” and enrichment programs are important for your bird’s physical and mental well-being… We can advise you on various feeding schedules and enrichment foods to improve your birds’ way of life.

Bird Grooming

A necessary part of your bird’s healthcare is periodic grooming. Since most pet birds don’t have to forage or work too hard in their search for food or nesting sites, they don’t wear down their beak and nails as they would in the wild. In other situations, health problems such as nutritional imbalances or, more importantly, liver disease can lead to abnormal beak and nail growth . Because of these potential underlying health problems,and the potential risks they pose, we require a complete physical exam and recommend a minimum blood testing database at least once yearly in order to perform any grooming procedures. This is in your bird’s best interest and the best way to correct early problems and minimize the risk to your pet.

Wing trimming is also often required in pet birds. It can be beneficial during the period you are training your bird to give you the upper hand and certainly is recommended anytime your pet could have access to the outdoors. NEVER underestimate the chance that your bird can escape. Even the best trained, human bonded parrot can fly away if something unexpected startles it. Once in the air they often will become lost, disoriented or injured before you have the chance to respond. Care should be taken EVEN IF your bird’s wings are trimmed. Given the right wind conditions, trimmed birds can get airborne and be susceptible to injury. We recommend mild to moderate trimming to both wings to best prevent flight and minimize injury in the event they try to fly.

There may be certain behavioral, medical, or species specific (African gray) reasons for recommending NOT to trim you pets wings. We’ll let you know!

Bird Behavioral Problems

Behavioral problems are commonly encountered in pet birds. Most larger pet species are no more than 5-6 generations from living in the wild, so problems dealing with captive situations should not be unexpected. Behavioral problems can be manifested in many ways. Common examples are feather picking, inappropriate aggression, or persistent vocalizations.

Behavioral training in the form of reward/penalty procedures, environmental changes and enrichment training can in many cases effectively shape a problem bird’s activities. When necessary, the use of medications or hormonal therapies can be a useful adjunct to help achieve successful results.

Birds have a long lifespan and can be enjoyable, interactive pets. Don’t let a behavioral problem stand in the way of an otherwise rewarding relationship. Call us. We can help.

Bird Diagnostics, Therapy, Treatment

Our goal is to keep your pet healthy and prevent illness. If your bird is injured or ill, rest assured that we have the tools necessary to diagnose the problem and offer state-of-the-art treatment.

From blood testing and radiographs to ultrasound and endoscopy, we have the means to track down your birds’ problems. Once the problem is uncovered we have the expertise, equipment, and the years of experience needed to provide the therapy or surgical procedures required to help out even the smallest patient.

Bird Emergency Care

Our offices are open for your bird’s health care needs Monday through Friday 8:00-6:00 and Saturday 8:00-4:00. If emergency care is required after these hours, you can rely on our 24 hour emergency facility- the Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital. Metro is located at 1053 S. Cleveland-Massilon Rd. in Copley (330-666-2976) and is there to assist with any of our client’s problems. At Metro we have veterinarians and technicians on duty 24 hours daily to address your needs. Metro’s staff doctors rotate through our clinic on a regular basis to assure that they are comfortable addressing the problems of our bird and exotic owning clients.