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Death by vet?

Has taking your bird to the vet made things worse?

  • Yes

    Votes: 3 11.5%
  • No

    Votes: 23 88.5%

  • Total voters
    26

OwnedByBird

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Hi everyone. I wanted to get people's feedback and experience regarding taking birds to the vet.

I have noticed in every vet office I've been to, there are always release forms that say there is a risk of the bird dying during a routine visit or any procedure. Is this a legitimate concern or are they just trying to legally protect themselves? What are some of your experiences?

I have had some traumatic experiences with two birds getting significantly worse (and later dying) after having taken them to the vet and at this point I am more scared of taking my new bird to the vet than not taking him. Especially when he seems healthy.
 

Ripshod

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We have to sign release forms at human hospitals for any procedure. There is always a risk or we wouldn't have to. It's just the same for our fids. It's one of the reasons so many people don't like hospitals. That, and the EoL thing.
But if we didn't go to the hospital, or for a doctors' visit many of us would shrug off our mortal coils a lot earlier.
It's best we take our fids to the vet, but even the best vet visit can be ruined by a stressful journey there and back.
So we do our best to reduce this stress.
 

fashionfobie

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I think the most important consideration is finding an Avian Certified Vet.

Association of Avian Veterinarians


There will always be more at risk from procedures. A small parrotlet who becomes egg bound for example, can still perish from 100% correctly preformed vet care.

EDIT: I also think the vet needs to have a good understanding of what their own capabilities are. My bird went in recently for nasal issues. The first vet was not confident in venturing into his tiny nasal passage, so she got the vet who was very skilled at this task. I think a sign of a GREAT vet is understanding their own strengths.
 

Sarahmoluccan

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Great points @Ripshod and @fashionfobie

Sadly there are incompetent vets out there and I've heard a couple horror stories. But I think the majority of vets really got into Veterinary medicine because they have a strong desire to help animals and their owners. Part of the problem is cost, diagnostic tests take money and that's not greed of the vets' part it's just the reality of the situation. And even with the best tests done its still an education guess sometimes. I think people often expect medical sciences to be black and white but there's lots of shades of grey. And sometimes there are no easy answers.

That's not say taking your bird to the vet isn't important. It certainly extended the life of my M2 Zane. There are things that are easily treated. But its important to know not everything is.
 

fashionfobie

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I think people often expect medical sciences to be black and white but there's lots of shades of grey.
Exactly!

With time the avian medical field will improve. If I think back on what was acceptable when I got my first bird... it is insane compared to the care of today.

For avian medicine there are fewer resources and less available research/experimentation. Even in Human medicine new things are being understood daily, and a lot of money goes into that.
 

Mizzely

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I've never had to sign a paper like that!

The risk exists for any living thing, people or animals. Some animals are more prone to it than others but honestly I've heard of MAYBE one bird dying during a routine exam - and that bird was already pretty ill (bad heart). So while it's not impossible, I find it unlikely. Even my most untame and ill birds have survived the vet without incident.

I've heard that smaller birds like finches and canaries though might be more prone to this.
 

JLcribber

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A vet is no different than any other profession/trade/certification. There are good ones and bad ones.

Some people were born to do what they do. You can see it in their passion, understanding and attitude. They really are a gift to what they do. Others not so much. So the secret is to choose the right one. Easier said than done.
 

cassiesdad

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A vet is no different than any other profession/trade/certification. There are good ones and bad ones.

Some people were born to do what they do. You can see it in their passion, understanding and attitude. They really are a gift to what they do. Others not so much. So the secret is to choose the right one. Easier said than done.
That's the bottom line here...John is spot on, as usual...
 

OwnedByBird

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The two vets I went to were both highly rated, certified avian vets. I even went to a third specialist, also highly recommended. A cause of death was never identified for either bird. Our last one miscalculated his flight trajectory and bumped into my husband's arm, slipping off and taking a fall. He seemed fine but was holding his wing slightly away from his body. He was still able to fly and was eating, talking, playing, etc. After a few days, I didn't see any improvement and took him to our usual vet. He was so stressed from being examined that blood came out of his eyes. He has gone to that vet for 4 years for nail and beak trims and routine blood and poop tests; it always stressed him out, but it was necessary as he never really chewed on toys much and his nails got long enough to get stuck on things. After examining him, the vet said it was probably a sprain and to just leave him be. The next day, that wing went from being slightly away from his body to fully drooping. Our vet recommended we go to an avian surgeon to get him checked out and xrayed. We went, he got xrayed, they found nothing, and said it's probably just sprained. We took him home. By the end of that day, his head was drooping to his feet. He started losing weight and we had him hospitalized with the surgeon (she only does exotics, while our normal vet does cats, dogs and birds, so we figured she'd be better able to treat our bird). After a week, there was no improvement or weight gain and she said to try taking him home and see if the less stressful environment would help. When we took him home, he began straining when he pooped. This kept getting worse, so the vet prescribed something that would help move his bowels and said to go to another specialist to get a CT scan. Yet again, it showed nothing but said his gutt was swollen. They said it's possibly some avian virus that there is no cure for or it's neurological, but that he wouldn't get better. He at this point mostly stopped eating and was crying all day long. He wasn't able to poop on his own without medication, which was stressing him out. He just sat there in his carrier all day, with his head drooping into his food bowl but not really eating. Even hand feeding didn't work. We decided to put him to sleep since we were told that his condition would not improve and he seemed to be really suffering. This whole situation haunts me and I feel like if we didn't take him to the vet, he would have been better off. The necropsy showed nothing conclusive so we still don't know what happened. We ended up spending $4,000 and went from a slightly injured bird to a dead one in the span of a month. He was only 4.

With our current bird, we took him in for 2 checkups and the vet (the surgeon) wasn't able to get blood drawn from him either time. He was very stressed out and kept thrashing around, even with the dose of valium they gave him. I can't help but feel this is an awful idea, but I am scared to miss something serious in the long term.
 
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hrafn

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The two vets I went to were both highly rated, certified avian vets. I even went to a third specialist, also highly recommended. A cause of death was never identified for either bird. Our last one miscalculated his flight trajectory and bumped into my husband's arm, slipping off and taking a fall. He seemed fine but was holding his wing slightly away from his body. He was still able to fly and was eating, talking, playing, etc. After a few days, I didn't see any improvement and took him to our usual vet. He was so stressed from being examined that blood came out of his eyes. He has gone to that vet for 4 years for nail and beak trims and routine blood and poop tests; it always stressed him out, but it was necessary as he never really chewed on toys much and his nails got long enough to get stuck on things. After examining him, the vet said it was probably a sprain and to just leave him be. The next day, that wing went from being slightly away from his body to fully drooping. Our vet recommended we go to an avian surgeon to get him checked out and xrayed. We went, he got xrayed, they found nothing, and said it's probably just sprained. We took him home. By the end of that day, his head was drooping to his feet. He started losing weight and we had him hospitalized with the surgeon (she only does exotics, while our normal vet does cats, dogs and birds, so we figured she'd be better able to treat our bird). After a week, there was no improvement or weight gain and she said to try taking him home and see if the less stressful environment would help. When we took him home, he began straining when he pooped. This kept getting worse, so the vet prescribed something that would help move his bowels and said to go to another specialist to get a CT scan. Yet again, it showed nothing but said his gutt was swollen. They said it's possibly some avian virus that there is no cure for or it's neurological, but that he wouldn't get better. He at this point mostly stopped eating and was crying all day long. He wasn't able to poop on his own without medication, which was stressing him out. He just sat there in his carrier all day, with his head drooping into his food bowl but not really eating. Even hand feeding didn't work. We decided to put him to sleep since we were told that his condition would not improve and he seemed to be really suffering. This whole situation haunts me and I feel like if we didn't take him to the vet, he would have been better off. The necropsy showed nothing conclusive so we still don't know what happened. We ended up spending $4,000 and went from a slightly injured bird to a dead one in the span of a month. He was only 4.

With our current bird, we took him in for 2 checkups and the vet (the surgeon) wasn't able to get blood drawn from him either time. He was very stressed out and kept thrashing around, even with the dose of valium they gave him. I can't help but feel this is an awful idea, but I am scared to miss something serious in the long term.
Was a hemorrhagic stroke ruled out? Everything you've said leads me to think that that may have been what happened to him, from the bleeding eyes to the drooping wing to the disorientation. If that's what it was, not taking him to the vet would have done nothing to save him.

If you don't trust your vet, find a new one. That's all you can do. Please don't neglect to provide vet care for your birds.
 

OwnedByBird

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They said it could be anything, including stroke, but that birds are too small to see that on a CT scan and the necropsy was inconclusive. The stomach swelling is weird if it was a stroke though.

I am planning to take him. I'm just traumatized and wanted to know other people's experiences. Having 2/2 go poorly, I wanted to know whether this is common or if I'm just extremely unlucky. My parents had a bird for 20 years (died of natural causes...lifespan is like 15 years) and they never took it to the vet, meanwhile I tried to do everything right and had this outcome.
 

Hawk12237

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I think the most important consideration is finding an Avian Certified Vet.

Association of Avian Veterinarians


There will always be more at risk from procedures. A small parrotlet who becomes egg bound for example, can still perish from 100% correctly preformed vet care.

EDIT: I also think the vet needs to have a good understanding of what their own capabilities are. My bird went in recently for nasal issues. The first vet was not confident in venturing into his tiny nasal passage, so she got the vet who was very skilled at this task. I think a sign of a GREAT vet is understanding their own strengths.

I agree, because there are a lot of vets that
" claim" to treat parrots, but really haven't a clue.
I met a few like that. Some avian vets never owned a bird.
I trust in certified avian vets that have parrots and know what they are doing.
 

OwnedByBird

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All 3 of the vets I went to were avian vertified and at least 2 have birds of their own. The one that does cats, dogs and birds likely is spread too thin to have in-depth knowledge so I went with the one that specializes in exotics for my new bird. Outside of looking at reviews and certification, I'm not really sure what else I can do. I don't necessarily think it was the vets' fault that my bird died, but I question whether all the torture of the vet visits and tests was what did him in. If I left well enough alone, perhaps his body would have healed on its own. That sharp decline is what really weighs on my conscience.
 

Erikalynnha

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I agree, because there are a lot of vets that
" claim" to treat parrots, but really haven't a clue.
I met a few like that. Some avian vets never owned a bird.

I lost my first bird to a vet claiming to have worked with exotics. We later found out that this was untrue. She aspirated him on medicine, I'll never forget her laughing and saying "Oh I forgot they're not like cats you have to do it slowly". He became very ill afterward and I had to say goodbye the next day after we took him to an actual certified avian vet, the doctor really did all she could but said they can unfortunately go fast when they're aspirated.

I still take my fids to the vet if I notice anything off and I think it's very important that they get yearly check ups. I am lucky to have 3 places near me with Avian Doctors.
 

Sarahmoluccan

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It sounds like extreme bad luck to me. I'm very sorry you went through that. Sorry if I missed it but what kind of birds do you have? I know some of the smaller birds are more prone to certain diseases.

The way you describe how stress your bird by your current vet when handled makes me think you may want to seek out a different vet. Some vets are much more adept handling birds that others. I have heard of a vet injuring a bird due to bad handling. Are there vet techs there when your vet handles your bird? Even with small birds I strongly believe that there are some things that shouldn't be attempted by one person. Getting a blood sample would be one of them.
 

OwnedByBird

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Right now I have a blue and gold macaw. I had an eclectus and an african brown headed parrot before that. Part of the reason I kept getting larger birds was because of the fact that smaller ones are more fragile and I was afraid of going through repeat situations. The vet tech is there holding him while the vet tries to draw blood. He wrestles them. He really hates being restrained and he's much stronger than my old birds.
 

iamwhoiam

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I lost a bird to a jugular draw but the vet techs (or whatever they were because I don't think they were techs) did the draw while the vet was in the exam room with me. Vet made all kinds of excuses: he was stressed, he was molting worse than she had seen him molt before, etc. She told me that she was confident in the girls who did the draw and that she had trained them. I had been going to that veterinary hospital for many years but after that experience I found a new vet. It wasn't just that my bird passed there but that the vet kept repeating that it wasn't their fault when she had no clue of what happened when they did the draw. Also if she felt he was stressed then they shouldn't have done the draw.
I took Lucy and Ricky to an avian certified vet for their first exam. That vet took care of my dog when she broke her leg and he did an excellent job putting the bones back together. When it came to birds, though, I wasn't comfortable with what he did. Had difficulty getting them out of the carrier and they got away so he chased them around the room, once he caught them he wasn't holding them right, IMO, he smelled from cigarette smoke and then some of his recommendations were just "off". Disappointed because of his excellent treatment with my dog. Avian certified doesn't always mean that the vet is good when it comes to treating birds They pass courses, get extra training and get the certification but their skills and diagnostic abilities can still be lacking.
 

Sarahmoluccan

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Wrestle them? That doesn't sound good at all. I assume they towel them when they do it? Both my vets towel my birds when they need to be. I think it help keep their wings still if they are wrapped up.

I will say I wouldn't dismiss an avian vet that treats dogs and cats. My past vet treat both birds and mammals and she was one the best vets I ever had. She even did surgery on my Zane and it went unbelievably well.
 
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OwnedByBird

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Yeah, they towel him. He just thrashes around like a loon and starts bicycle kicking as hard as he can. The cat and dog one didn't seem as knowledgeable as this one. He seemed like he cared and everything but I don't suspect he sees a lot of birds, whereas the exotics vet mostly sees birds.
 

suileeka

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I've never had to sign a waiver for routine visits. Likewise never had a bird get worse after seeing the vet.

It is a legitimate concern though because many birds have underlying heart disease from poor diets/lack of exercise, and don't get taken to the vet until there are signs of illness... Combining that with the stress of being handled by strangers, having blood taken, etc., can be dangerous.

Joining the AAV does not make one an avian specialist. Being an ABVP avian practice diplomate does. But neither of these things necessarily make someone the right vet for you.

Over the years, my birds have been seen by about 7 vets - 5 at the practice we use as our regular vet (where there is one ABVP avian diplomate) and 2 at emergency/specialist hospitals. I have never felt concern over their handling skills. The vets at my regular office are always quick to make corrections if they feel the tech isn't restraining the bird properly, and the they give the bird recovery time between certain procedures. I've had some near death's door birds examined and none of them has ever dropped dead from seeing the vet.

If you have even the slightest discomfort with how a vet handles your birds, find another one. That trust is far more important than certifications
 
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