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Life without a Vet?

KevinC

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Kevin N. Carpenter
One of the biggest stumbling blocks I have right now in my search for a Macaw is the lack of an Avian Vet nearby. The closest is a 2 hour drive, and its curbside only service right now. I suspect a full 24x7 emergency avian vet might be available in Kansas City, St. Louis, or Des Moines - all of which are 3+ hours away.

Doesn't help that I hate hospitals with them being pools of infection. Kind of feel the same way about most vets... (we do our own cow vaccinations, cow and horse deworming, etc. Most large animal meds are readily available in all the local hardware stores. In fact, use some of those on ourselves occasionally - many are great (like Iodine spray with lidocaine for abrasions)). What I don't have for large animals some neighbor will - we share during animal emergencies.

We do have several small animal (and being a cow farm) large animal vets within 45 minutes, but none have avian experience.

So... its time to make a hard decision: Do I proceed with looking for a bird? Am I evil and self-centered if I do?

I believe we would provide a great home for a large bird, as we do for a dozen+ of my daughters smaller birds. As a family, we have even sketched out some indoor (20x20 L shaped in my workshop - goodbye tractor work area) and outdoor (40x60x12) flight aviaries. Both of which are doable, although I'd probably choose one. But all I hear for care is "Take it to your vet!". The Gabriel Foundation training virtually has that as a motto every paragraph.

Your thoughts?
 

Mizzely

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With how small our birds are, the difference between a good dose of medication and a lethal dose isn't much.

They are also experts at hiding illnesses, and many sicknesses present the same symptoms with vastly different treatment plans.

The only vet I truly trust near me is a 90 minute drive away, without traffic. With two small kids and a husband that works 10 hour days, getting to the vet can be hard. It usually ends up being an all day affair when we do go. I do have another "sees birds" vet 45 minutes away in a pinch, and if I am truly desperate there is a dog doctor nearby that thinks he has bird experience but it would have to be a dire emergency for me to go to him.

Most vets across the country are curbside only right now.

I can't imagine falling in love with a bird, or any animal, and watching it slowly die in front of me because I can't make it to the vet. I personally could not in good conscious adopt a pet knowing that I could not or would not give them medical care should they need it.
 

Hankmacaw

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I never go to a doctor for myself. That said I well know the value of a good vet. My jasper and Hank were very ill from the moment I got them. Both had chronic life threatening conditions - guess I'm just lucky.

Hank should have died within weeks after I got him and Jasper within a couple of months after I got her. Two wonderful vets saved them then and one did numerous times afterwards. I've been with the same wonderful vet for 24 years now. He's my friend and doctor for my new bird with PDD - can't get a lot sicker than that. I drive 1 1/2 hours (some drive further) each way to my vet and have never felt that I couldn't or wouldn't do it.

When most of us tell people to go to the vet NOW, it's either because they are newer owners, very young, the symptoms are critical or they are wanting to do home remedies from the internet. For me there is no life without a vet, for others, who are members here, they have never had an occasion for a vet. Also, the longer we have birds the more experience we have.

It is a risk and a responsibility that you will need to decide for yourself.
 

KevinC

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Just for the record: its not the 2 hour drive that concerns me... its that it would take 2 hours to get help - which is a long time in the case of an injury.

For illness, its still not good, neither are their hours, but hopefully would be good enough.
 

Mizzely

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When there is an injury, we do first aid and then go from there. Many people are without 24 hour emergency services, especially for avians and exotics. For me it's about a 3 hour drive.
 

KevinC

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When there is an injury, we do first aid and then go from there. Many people are without 24 hour emergency services, especially for avians and exotics. For me it's about a 3 hour drive.
Good to know. Almost all of the adoption applications ask for the name of our Avian Vet, and number so they can call to confirm we are a client. We simply don't have one yet. Guess I'll find out soon if that disqualifies me. Visit to Iowa Rescue in about 3 weeks, teleconference with Gabriel Foundation this Thursday.
 

Mybluebird

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If you do decide to get a bird, I would suggest you educate yourself on what to do in an emergency while you are preparing to take the bird to the vet. I have found the webinars that Lafeber holds on Fridays to be interesting and educational. They have 2-3 vets who host those on a regular basis. You can watch past webinars on their Youtube channel. They recently had a couple of them on what to do in an emergency (broken leg, broken wing) and also one on what should be in your home emergency kit. I suggest you call the closest avian vet and ask them what their policy is in an emergency. My vet tells people to bring the bird in, leave it and she'll treat it in between other appointments. Another avian vet nearby doesn't allow that.
 

redindiaink

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There are only approximately two avian vets (DVM AVP) that are in private practice in all of Canada and neither of them are in BC. We take our birds to a bird only practice about a 2 hour drive away, and because of past experience we're incredibly hesitant to go anywhere else.

I can't imagine falling in love with a bird, or any animal, and watching it slowly die in front of me because I can't make it to the vet
My first bird was taken to a exotic clinic 20 minutes away on the advice of someone who sounded informed from the rescue we adopted from. The vet drew blood, but had difficulty controlling the bleeding. The vet left my bird in the care of an inexperienced assistant so she could see another patient. Bailey bled to death in front of me.


But all I hear for care is "Take it to your vet!".
Because the vast majority of people don't know what they're doing. Rescues get the privilege of seeing the horror stories from people who claim to have "loved their bird" And it's one thing to know how to give a shot in muscle to a large animal and quite another thing when a bird has flown into a window, gets a foot caught in a toy or any number of illnesses and accidents that can't be diagnosed/treated at home. They're trying to ensure that the bird will get appropriate care if they need it.

Phoenix Landing offers parrot care classes to potential adopters which IIRC includes a first aid course that's accessible to anyone. It's something I wish all rescues would offer.

Also, Bird Vet Melbourne has a series of videos on how to go about finding a bird friendly vet that knows what they're doing.
 

Sparkles99

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I didn't realize there were so few avian vets in Canada. Guess I'm lucky one's in Ottawa. You sound like the sort of person who could learn to do first aid to stabilize the bird & rely on a vet 2 hours away. The aviary you're planning sounds lovely & very unusual in private homes. It'd be a shame to not let a bird enjoy it just because of what if.
 

redindiaink

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I didn't realize there were so few avian vets in Canada.
When I looked into it a couple years ago there were about ten (DVM - AVP) and most were working in teaching hospitals, research facilities or zoos. When the shelter (and a lot of people online) said I should be taking my birds to an "avian vet" I took it seriously and became frustrated when I couldn't find one. After Bailey I spent some time learning what it really meant. We're lucky here because we have a couple of kick *ss female vets who love birds.
 

Sparkles99

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The one I've found's profile said she's one of 6 board certified avian vets in Canada. I'm working on taming mine so they can go without terror.
 

melissasparrots

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I live an hour away from a decent vet. Not board certified but has a lot of bird experience. I would say, its less a matter of the distance to the vet and more your willingness to keep up on good bird care so you don't have emergencies and be willing to just stop everything and make the drive when needed. Suck it up once or twice a year and make the drive for a wellness exam and preventative care. Make sure the bird gets a good diet and don't slack off on that. Be paranoid about toy safety and safety in general. No cooking when the bird is loose so you don't have burns, keep curtains or blinds down so you don't have collisions from windows. Make sure your dog/cat can't attack your bird so you don't have a bleeding or puncture emergency. Get a scale and weigh your bird frequently at the same time of day so you know if it is trending down for no good reason and you can make the appointment and get to the vet before its an emergency. Basically, don't be a slacker bird owner, keep money in the savings account so you can access it quick if you need to and make sure you have quick access to a working car and a job where you can actually stop and go to the vet if needed. There is a lot you can do at home to stabilize broken bones and problems before you go to the vet so it's less of an emergency. Also, the ability to give an injection and not be squeamish about it can allow you to take a bird home with you after the vet check as apposed to having to leave it there for several nights for treatment and make another long drive later to bring it home. I'm not sure I've ever had a bird die from an emergency and I rarely have emergencies. Its usually more like I know the animal needs care and I need to make it happen sometime in the next 24 hours and if I need to cancel plans and drive to make that happen then so be it. I've certainly had birds die, but its generally been age related issues where a previous diagnosis was made and treatment done, but they don't live forever.
 

KevinC

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Nice thing about being retired on a farm is I seldom have to "stop everything", since I seldom have anything serious going on. More like "lets do some field work this week...", with choice of day being totally up to me and my views of the weather. Cattle are easier than crops, most thing can be postponed months if one wants to.
 

Sparkles!

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We live 3 hours in all directions from an Avian vet. But don’t disregard your farm vet! Our local livestock and large animal vet has been able to help us with certain “go between” things for the birds on an as needed basis. Things like bloodwork, for example, I can restrain my own birds and or draw the blood and his clinic can overnight the samples to the Antech lab. The results are then also given to our Avian vet from the lab and then the avian vet will prescribe meds or a med change without us needing to make the drive. Heck, I’ve had our farm vet come to preg check cows, neuter a rabbit, float a QH’s teeth, grab a culture from the dog’s yeasty ears, and help pull blood for a uric acid test on a bird all in the same appointment. It can be done!

Heads up with the Gabriel Foundation though, they do require all potential adopters to have an avian vet reference if they already have a bird as well as have all usual and preliminary blood tests done on all current bird family members to be considered eligible to adopt. There are some additional requirements, also. The Gabriel Foundation is great!
 

KevinC

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Had our Gabriel Foundation interview yesterday. I think it went well. Guess I'll find out via the receipt of an invite to come visit... They didn't mention anything about needing blood test on our existing small birds (conures, ringnecks, etc.)
 

Sparkles!

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This should help! The Foundation is a wonderful entity. If you can meet their criteria, I highly encourage you to adopt from them. I can already think of a couple macaws that you and your daughter would love!!
 
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