Friday, July 20, 2007

Welcoming New Avian Clients

(Contributed by Dr. Jina Andrews)

From the time we opened two and a half years ago, we have required an exam the first time we see any bird, even for something as routine as a wing trim. It is important to assess the bird’s overall health to catch any underlying issues it might have, and to be sure we can handle the bird safely, without undue stress or trauma.

During the course of these examinations, we found that many (if not most) of the bird owners, even those who had owned birds for years, were making basic husbandry and diet mistakes that, while not causing overwhelming harm to their birds, was still impacting their health and well-being.

So earlier this year we began approaching our avian exams in a different way. We feel strongly that it is our job to provide pet owners with all the information they need to give their pets the best possible care. Now, the first time anyone comes to us as a bird owner, their initial “New Avian Client” appointment is a longer one, so that we can cover the wealth of important information regarding diet, supplements, husbandry, behavior and health. This exam also includes a full avian fecal test. Why is that fecal test so vital? We’ve found that at least 80% of the avian fecals we run show some degree of abnormality, which tells us so much about that bird’s health. Besides parasites, we find undigested starches and bacterial counts that are not properly balanced, all of which can lead to a wide range of health and behavior problems, including feather-plucking, maldigestion and even malnutrition. This test and the exam enable us to provide that bird owner with specific instructions and suggestions on how to maximize their bird’s health and quality of life, and eliminate many of the nagging issues that may have plagued them for some time.

When that owner returns with another bird, they are not required to have that “New Avian Client Appointment” again, just the general avian exam. While some clients have felt the extended first appointment is unnecessary, we truly believe it is. If we can form a good working partnership with that bird owner right from the start, we can, together, provide their birds with the best we all have to give, and that is what is most important to all of us!

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