Preventive Care For Birds

Most people who have pet birds don’t need to worry about vaccines (some breeders may need to consider them and anyone who breeds chickens should also be looking into things like Marek’s disease vaccines), but the general pet owner with a parrot or a small flock of backyard chickens does not need to worry about yearly vaccinations. However, there are a LOT of other things to keep your bird healthy!

  • Yearly exams – Yearly exams are important to track your bird’s weight, feather health, fecal health, and other factors. It’s a good time to talk about the rest of the things below as well.
  • Diet – This is a big one! Each species is different and has a different set of nutritional needs, and we don’t know as much about avian nutrition as we do for dogs and cats. However, we DO know a lot and we know that all-seed diets are generally not ideal.
  • Housing and cleanliness – Every bird has different requirements, but having enough room to move around, stretch, and be mentally stimulated is important for not only the pads of their feet and to prevent arthritis but also for their mental health and quality of life. Keeping things clean will prevent fungal diseases such as aspergillosis as well.
  • Exercise – It’s not possible for all birds in all situations, but being able to get out and fly can in the house or in another safe area has great benefits for birds.
  • Avoiding household hazards – Such as non-stick pans while cooking, self cleaning ovens, aerosol sprays, etc etc
  • Lastly (and firstly) – do your research BEFORE getting a bird! Look for the particular details on your species of bird – what type of environment they need, how much noise will they make, do they need to constantly destroy things to keep their beak healthy (get them toys BEFORE they attack the furniture!), and, of course, what is their ideal diet (in the wild and in captivity?). Lorikeets for example may be cute, but they have a VERY specialized diet that needs to be researched before looking into purchasing one. Another thing to look out for is how long do they live!? Amazons can live to be in their 50s or 60s, and macaws can live longer than that! Is this a pet you need to write into your will? It’s best to think about these things and plan before you get your bird.

Dr. Claire Peterson