Routine bloodwork usually consists of a complete blood count (CBC), a biochemistry panel, and liver function testing. This gives us a great deal of information about the internal health of your bird. The CBC allows us to look for signs of infection and inflammation, as well as for anemia. The biochemistry panel allows us to evaluate kidney and liver function, protein levels, blood glucose, and nutritional status.
We often recommend taking x-rays of our bird patients. This allows us to see their skeletal system, the respiratory system, the heart, the liver, the gastrointestinal tract, the spleen, the kidneys, and the reproductive tract. We can gather a lot of information about these body systems by examining an x-ray, such as whether or not there are any changes in size and position of organs, and the presence of ingested metal fragments, or reproductive status such as whether eggs are present.
This non-invasive imaging test can be very helpful in the diagnosis of reproductive problems, and liver disease and aids in the diagnosis of internal masses or tumors. The ability for ultrasound testing depends on the size of the bird and its condition. Ultrasound-guided aspirates of masses or removal of fluid can be performed for birds, just like mammals.
Infectious disease testing
Birds can be exposed to diseases in many different ways. Birds from pet stores or fairs, and birds that regularly contact other birds may be more likely to acquire infectious diseases, such as certain bacterial diseases, Chlamydophila psittaci (“Psittacosis”), Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease virus, Herpes virus (“Pachecos” disease), Polyomavirus, and Bornavirus (“Proventricular Dilitation Disease”, or “Macaw Wasting Disease”). We can discuss the various diagnostic options for these diseases if we are concerned that your bird may be infected or exposed.
Heavy metal testing
Often, birds are exposed to heavy metals from their environment or caging that the owner is unaware of, such as lead or zinc. We can test for exposure to these metals to help diagnose your bird’s illness. This testing also allows for monitoring response to treatment.
We can get samples from your bird for culture, such as cloacal culture or choanal culture to help diagnose specific types of bacterial infections, fungal infections, and for bacterial infections, which types of antibiotics should be most effective.
For most species of pet birds (with the exception of a few species) it is NOT possible to determine gender by appearance. Often the male and female birds look exactly the same. There are several testing options for determining gender in your bird. It is important to know gender in case your bird becomes ill, so the veterinarian can determine whether an egg problem should be considered.
OTHER AVIAN SERVICES
Grooming: Dr. Ritzman offers avian grooming services that include beak trimming and shaping, flight feather trimming, and nail trims. Your bird must be up to date on its annual health exam with us in order to be able to bring it in for grooming visits. Beak trimming is performed by Dr. Ritzman as any beak adjustment requires utmost care due to the unique anatomy of a bird’s beak.