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Avian and exotics

Avian & Exotic pets

It's not just the usual dog or cat that we see and treat at Pacific Vetcare, we also have experience in treating our Avian friends and other exotic pets such as Ferrets, Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Snakes and even Fish!

A Word on Birds:-

They really can make for an entertaining and affectionate member of the family and will outlive dogs and cats if properly cared for. Many bird owners are amazed when they first learn the potential life span of their bird. Budgies and Cockateils can live 15-25 years, while Galahs and Cockatoos can live 60-80 years. Unfortunately many people take on a pet bird with little to no knowledge of what’s required and only a small percentage reach “old age”. If we’re going to cage them we owe it to them to enrich their lives as much as possible.

 Although nearly all pet birds these days are bred in captivity (and many are hand raised) they have not been truly domesticated for thousands of years like farm animals or dogs and still possess hard wired wild behaviours. All the species kept as pets are essentially prey species in the wild and if an individual is unwell it cannot afford to be slow or weak as this makes them the prime target for predators. Consequently these birds have evolved with a survival mechanism to disguise illness for as long as possible and try to keep up with the flock. It’s not until they physiologically can’t cope anymore that they quickly succumb. Our pet birds do exactly the same thing.

 With this in mind, it’s not hard to see why the popular belief is that pet parrots are fragile and will die at the drop of a hat. Sadly, most sick birds seen by vets are critical and therefore it’s no surprise that we see high mortality. This need not be the case. Any fluffed up, sick looking bird is very serious and needs to be seen by a vet as soon as possible. Better still, if you act early on any subtle changes in your bird’s behaviour there will be a much better chance of a successful outcome. A bird on the bottom of the cage is often too far gone to save.

 Some of these early warning signs are: a change in the droppings, discharge from the eyes or nose, vomiting, abnormal breathing, lumps and swellings, a change in the plumage feet or beak, a parrot that stops vocalizing, reduced appetite, abnormal posture or gait, difficulty flying (if not wing clipped), sleeping more than usual, sleeping on two legs, or any other unusual changes in behaviour.

 Dr Mat Grabovszky from Pacific VetCare is an avian vet with a passion for parrots. “Poor nutrition is the single biggest cause of illness in pet parrots. 70-85% of birds treated by avian vets worldwide can have their problems traced back to inappropriate nutrition. Look after the diet and they rarely get sick; it’s just that people are unaware of it. A bag of parrot seed - no matter what the mix - is not a balanced diet. Sunflower seed is the worst culprit, containing 11 times the normal fat requirement of most parrots. It really is junk food for birds”.

 It can take a few months to a few years but predominantly seed based diets can result in a whole range of syndromes including rickets, obesity and fatty liver disease, beak and feather abnormalities, feather picking and self mutilation, bumblefoot, clotting disorders, immunosuppression, mouth and sinus problems, egg binding, fatty tumours, and the list goes on!

 It is important to note that every species has different requirements and it is impossible to replicate a wild diet but generally Dr Grabovszky recommends feeding a high quality pelleted food (preferably organic) as 70-80% of the diet, with a daily mix of fresh veges and fruit making up the rest. Lorikeets have more specific requirements. Try to avoid “human foods” which are typically high in fat, salt and sugar and do not feed dairy products, avocado, chocolate, garlic or onions. Seeds and nuts should be reserved for treats, training rewards, or as part of a foraging strategy.

 Dr Grabovszky treats both companion pets and avairy birds, along with backyard poultry. He also consults on bird behavioural issues and is an advocate of captive enrichment and forage feeding. He offers annual health checks, surgical and DNA sexing, microchipping, and pre and post purchase examination and disease screening.

 Pacific Vetcare is equipped with facilities for avian radiology, endoscopy, infectious disease testing (such as avian Chlamydia and beak and feather disease), and ICU cages especially for birds. Mat can deal with all avian medical and surgical problems including fracture repair. He is also happy to perform the proper method of wing clipping as it is generally done very poorly and can lead to serious injuries.

 All new companion parrots should have a general health check, be screened for parasites and tested for avian Chlamydia (psittacosis) which is common and also a potential zoonotic infection (that is it can cause serious illness in people).

 For any bird problems from budgie to macaw you can see Dr Mat Grabovszky at Pacific VetCare’s Harbour Drive or Sawtell Veterinary Hospitals.



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