Managing common avian emergencies

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Critical conditions in birds, plus tips on remaining calm when presented with these patients

According to Laila Proença, DVM, PhD, MV, MSc, DACZM, CEO and founder of VetAhead, don't fret when presented with a bird in critical condition as it's the same as treating any other animal.

In this dvm360® interview at the 2023 American Veterinary Medical Association Convention, she outlines the most common avian emergencies and her advice for addressing these pets with ease.

The following is a partial transcript of the video.

Laila Proença, DVM, PhD, MV, MSc, DACZM: Some of the most common [avian emergencies], it will depend on the type of birds you see. But let's assume we're seeing parrots, psittacines, right, those are the most common pets. I would say some of the most common would be a bird in respiratory distress. And I think a lot of times what we forget about that, is that it might not be primary respiratory. It might be because that bird has an ascitis or has congestive heart failure. We forget birds have a heart, and therefore they can have the same diseases. I will say that is a big one. Reproductive problems, so egg binding is a big one. Egg salpingitis is a big one too, especially to see in chickens. I know we're talking about parrots, but chickens are so common as pets now.

And a lot of times we get too scared, right? Who doesn't get scared to see a bird in respiratory distress? But hopefully after you see this talk, you're going to realize that it's not that scary. There's so many techniques that we can use that you're already using for dogs and cats, for example, sedating a distressed animal. Calming that animal with midazolam or sedatives. So we're going to talk a lot about that, [one] to recognize [the emergency], two to diganose them, and three to stabilize them, so you can do your job.

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