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How to Choose an Avian Veterinarian

Did you know that birds often do not show signs of illness until their final days, or even their final hours? If birds were to show symptoms of illness in the wild, their natural predators would identify them as easy targets. A regular checkup that includes a physical exam and lab work is the only way to be sure that your bird is completely healthy.

Choosing a veterinarian who is experienced with pet birds will extend the life of your pet. This is because the medical treatment of birds is vastly different from the care that a larger, more common pet, like a cat or dog, requires. When calling potential veterinarians, ask them how long they have been treating birds. How many birds do they see each day? Each week? And what are their specific qualifications related to pet birds?

You may want to consider a veterinarian who is certified in avian practice by an organization called the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). These veterinarians are called "diplomates." You may call the ABVP at (800) 697-3583, or you can locate one of these exceptionally qualified avian veterinarians by using the search feature on the ABVP website (www.abvp.com/finddiplomate.aspx). Simply enter your city and state, and click "Avian" in the box called "Practice Category."

Because the requirements for certification by the ABVP are very demanding, there are just over 110 veterinarians certified in avian practice. If you are unable to find one near you, consider selecting a veterinarian who is a member of the Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV). These veterinarians have a strong interest in birds and in staying up-to-date on avian medicine. There are about 3,000 members of the AAV worldwide, and they can be located through the AAV website at www.aav.org. You may enter your city, state, zip code or area code into the search tool at http://aav.org/vet-lookup, or call (561) 393-8901.

Once you have found a veterinarian who specializes in birds, make an appointment. One of the most important things you can do for the long-term health of your bird is to take it to a veterinarian for annual checkups.