By Jean Maixner, DVM
Did you know that birds are the third most popular companion pet in the United States, behind dogs and cats? The American Veterinary Society estimates there are over 10 million birds in this country, with the highest concentration of our feathered friends in the Pacific Coast Region. Some birds are extremely social and bond with their owners; they mimic words and even and actions. Others are just beautiful to look at. Some birds are extremely intelligent and have remarkable memories and problem solving abilities. In fact, some crows have learned how to use tools: “Using their beaks as scissors and snippers, they fashion hooks from twigs and make barbed, serrated rakes or combs from stiff leathery leaves. And they don’t throw the tools away after one use–they carry them from one foraging place to another.” http://www.pbs.org/lifeofbirds/brain/index.html
Yes, birds are remarkable and that is why their popularity as companion animals has grown. Pet birds have brought new and interesting challenges to veterinary medicine; they carry some illness that are similar to their 4 legged counterparts, and some illnesses that they’re uniquely sensitive to. Did you know the fumes from a heated Teflon pan can cause breathing problems and death to our feathered friends?
1. Breathing problems from: viruses, bacteria, toxins in the air and seeds caught in the airway.
2. Some birds even develop heart disease.
3. Bleeding from injured toenails, beaks and broken feathers.