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March 2016 – Parrot First Aid and Microchipping

By: Audrey, Tuesday March 15, 2016

On March 15, 2016 Dr. Marcus Luckwaldt talked to us about general veterinary procedures including micro-chipping, nail trims, blood draws and exams especially for those birds who produce blood tears during the exam. Marcus’ assistant, Dr. Erin Wiancko, a local GTA avian specialist vet with her Master’s degree in ornithology also came to help out.

Did you know that even anemic birds can give blood safely? According to Dr. Marcus, they can give up to 1% of their body weight in blood while vets require only a tiny amount for testing. The main concern when taking a blood sample is stress to the bird as stress hormones can skew the results.

Your vet will start by weighing your bird to determine the amount of blood to be drawn. Bandit “gladly” served as our example and was weighed in a closed container and his blood drawn. We all now know that he has been eating very well this winter – he is up to 511 g and will need to slim down a bit to fit into his summer speedo!

Bandit was a perfect gentleman, responding well to being toweled for the procedure and blood was drawn from the jugular vein by Dr. Marcus while Dr. Erin gently but firmly held him in the towel. Of interest is the fact that bird necks are in an “S” shape and the vet will elongate the neck to prevent the bird from reaching around and nipping during the process.

Lucy gladly acted as our Vanna White and mixed the blood in the vials and aired the slide which was stained with Bandit’s blood for further exam.

Dr. Marcus also used a speculum to check Bandit’s mouth and then proceeded to check his eyes and ears and then groom his beak and nails with the dremel.

Why do we do beak trims? Some is cosmetic but usually it is an excellent way for the vet to assess if there are any health concerns such as insufficient protein and/or calcium and to ensure that the beak will not break or chip. It helps the doctor determine if further work is needed. Unlike the human face which is not symmetric, the birds face, especially his/her beak should be. Issues with symmetry could effect eating and nutrient consumption ultimately. Generally speaking, conditions such as scissor beak are a birth defect where one side of the beak grows faster than the other. In extreme cases, correction can be done via an artificial beak added surgically. Flaking of the beak is just extra beak material being shed.

Thanks to Romeo, we were able to witness blood tears though due to Dr. Marcus and Dr. Erin’s excellent bedside manner, they were the least produced since he has been in Audrey’s care – bravo doctors Marcus and Erin! While Romeo is an Alexandrine Parakeet, we typically see blood tears in African Greys. This occurs when the animal is stressed and they have blood pressure changes which are seen in their eyes.

Dr. Markus performed microchip procedures using the smallest size available on 9 birds. Before performing the procedure, he always scans the patients first to make sure there isn’t one there already! The procedure is simple and in almost all cases, painless. Microchipping was provided at a steep discount of $65 which is a tangible benefit of being a paid club member.

Linda asked a question that many find confusing: Why are pellets ok for our birds and seeds given the nix if the fat content is the same? Dr. Marcus explained that each bird is unique in the amount of fat that they can consume/tolerate and so it is very individual. As well, the nutritional information on the package is representative of the total seeds in the bag, however most birds pick and choose which seeds to eat. And the information may include the weight of the shells which are discarded by the bird. Finally, don’t forget everything on the package is marketing, designed to make you want to buy the product. As a nutritionist, Audrey adds that it is also a matter of quality of fat and the ratio of nutrients and lack of some nutrients that can make an all seed diet problematic.

Other News

Last month the Club went to the Revera seniors residence. Emma, Bandit, Yar, Maxine, Chase and the cockatiels were a big hit with everyone! Lucy and John provided much needed grooming for their in-house finch and cockatiel.

Next month we will have the Parade of Parrots whereby several members will tell us about their particular parrots breed.

May is chop night! We spend about $180 on ingredients and you get to go home with good nutritious food for your parrot. If your parrot does not like fresh food, this is the perfect opportunity to get some food at no charge and put it out daily to tempt him/her to try it! Read last year’s blog and gallery to see what chop night is like.

Parrot Hotel is offering our members a 10% discount with code. Please contact Linda for the code if interested. You must be a paid member to qualify for the code – all the more reason to join now! Orders from The Parrot Hotel are shipped for free after spending $125 (but before HST). Cards for Pet Paradise with discount for being a club member are also available.

Special thanks to our guest blogger this month, Audrey!

Check out the rest of the photos in the gallery.