Article  Video  Webinar 

Avian Respiratory Anatomy, Physiology & Diseases: An Overview

The avian respiratory system has several unique and fascinating adaptations for flight that are important to clinicians. This web-based seminar will give an overview of the anatomical features of the avian respiratory tract and discuss the physiology of the respiratory system. Clinical correlates will be pointed out as we go through anatomy and physiology. We will then discuss clinical signs of respiratory disease in birds and how we can use these signs to help us anatomically locate the origin of the problem to the upper respiratory tract, the major airways, the pulmonary parenchyma and coelomic cavity…

Quiz 

Anatomy & Physiology of the Avian Gastrointestinal Tract: Clinical Applications Webinar Post Test

Anatomy and Physiology of the Avian Gastrointestinal Tract: Clinical Applications Webinar was reviewed and approved by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) Registry of Approved Continuing Education (R.A.C.E.) program for 1 hour of continuing education, in jurisdictions which recognize AAVSB R.A.C.E. approval…

Article 

Esophagostomy Tube Placement in Birds

Placement of an enteral feeding tube is a recognized method of supportive care, and the esophagostomy tube is an accepted route that is generally well tolerated by avian patients and relatively easy to place. In clinical patients, esophagostomy tube placement has been described in psittacine birds, raptors, and ostriches.

Esophagostomy tube placement is indicated in cases of severe beak trauma or disease, as well as diseases of the oral cavity or proximal esophagus, such as abscesses and neoplasia. Esophagostomy tubes may also be used to…

How Did We Get Off the Goo?

Many people have been curious about the way we at International Bird Rescue were able to clean the birds affected by the San Francisco Bay Mystery Goo Spill in January 2015.

Article 

External Coaptation in Birds: Bandages and Splints

Traumatic orthopedic injuries are relatively common in the avian patient. Although bird bones are strong when intact, they tend to shatter on impact as the cortices are thin and brittle. A lack of abundant soft tissue coverage often leads to open fractures…

Article  Webinar 

Nutritional Support to the Critical Exotic Patient

View the recording of this free, interactive webinar, presented by Neil Forbes, BVetMed DECZM (Avian) FRCVS. Many sick or injured exotic animals are presented in critical condition. More of these patients can be saved by appropriate fluids and nutritional support, than by any single medical or surgical procedure. In practical terms, providing this support is often easier said than done. Dr. Forbes’ presentation serves to demystify some of the challenges encountered; practical solutions for all exotic patients are described and discussed.

Article  Video  Webinar 

Critical Care Nutrition

When Kara Burns, veterinary technician specialist in nutrition, visited Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine during the fall of 2014, her lecture on critical care nutrition made a big impression on the veterinary medical students. This 48-minute presentation explores the basics of nutritional supportive care appropriate for all species before concluding with information on nutritional support of special species like birds, reptiles and exotic companion mammals.

Article 

Exotic ICU: Nursing Care For the Avian Patient

It is 10 p.m. in your veterinary emergency hospital and a dreaded call comes in. A panicked owner is in tears because their beloved pet is in crisis. In most cases, your team will quickly gather supplies and move swiftly to prepare for the emergent patient. This patient may strike fear in many veterinary professionals, however, because it is the dreaded avian patient presenting to a general veterinary practice.

Released for National Veterinary Technician Week 2014, Tips and Tricks for the Avian Patient is part of an Exotic ICU series that provides advice on the management of birds in a critical care setting.

Article  Video 

Wing Wrap Placement in Birds

Wing injuries may present as a wing droop or an inability to fly. The figure-of-eight bandage, or wing wrap, is the standard method for stabilizing the wing short-term. See the NEW and improved version of LafeberVet’s wing wrap placement video clip.

Article 

Transfusion Medicine in Birds

Because of a lack of identified blood groups in companion bird species, compatibility for transfusion is based on the use of major and minor cross matches. A major cross match is performed by mixing donor red cells with recipient plasma and a minor cross match uses recipient cells and donor plasma. The appearance of agglutination or cell lysis indicates incompatibility.

Unlike mammals, a single transfusion between different bird species can be safe and efficacious. Transfusions will be most effective if the donor is…

Article 

Band Removal in Birds

Leg bands are sometimes used for identification of birds. Band removal is indicated as a medical treatment when the band is associated with tissue swelling due to trauma or a build up of keratin. Prophylactic band removal is recommended by some veterinarians because of the danger of the band catching on wire or toys. There is some controversy, however, as to whether bands truly pose a significant risk. Most clinicians agree that closed bands pose less risk of injury compared to…

Article 

Reproductive Emergencies in Birds

Reproductive emergencies are most commonly seen in small psittacine birds like the cockatiel, lovebird and budgerigar parakeet. This article reviews conditions commonly seen on an emergency basis such as dystocia, egg yolk peritonitis, cloacal or oviductal prolapse, and/or chronic egg laying. Pertinent anatomy and physiology as well as case management, including the reproductive history, physical examination, diagnostic imaging, and behavioral modification techniques are also discussed.

Article 

Emergency Drug Therapy in Birds

One of the most valuable items in avian practice is a reliable formulary. Although pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic data is slowly growing, the vast majority of drug doses in companion parrot medicine rely on extrapolation and/or clinical experience. It is crucial that the clinician have access to this wide range of information and experience.

Article 

Nutritional Management of Gastrointestinal Disease in the Bird

The gastrointestinal tract acquires and digests food, absorbs nutrients and water, and expels unabsorbed ingesta as feces. Nutritional support of the avian patient with gastrointestinal (GI) disease is challenging. In cats and dogs, it is easy to “rest” the gut, however with their relatively high metabolic rate, this is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in many avian patients. Specific disease conditions increase the difficulty regulating gastrointestinal motility including ingluvitis (crop stasis). …

Article 

Nutritional Management of Renal Disease in Birds

There are a number of potential nutritional problems that can promote renal disease. Excess dietary protein, excess dietary calcium, hypovitaminosis A, or hypervitaminosis D may lead to nephritis or other degenerative renal changes…

Article 

Nutritional Management of Liver Disease in Birds

In mammals, chronic liver disease is often associated with decreased intake of food, mainly due to anorexia, nausea, and vomiting, as well as taste abnormalities, and the same appears to be true for the avian patient. Chronic liver disease may also lead to maldigestion and malabsorption, as well as metabolic abnormalities such as increased protein and lipid catabolism, glucose intolerance, depletion of hepatic glycogen stores, and decreased glucose oxidation. Therefore chronic liver disease may lead to significant malnutrition and weight loss, particularly in patients with severe hepatic dysfunction…

Article 

Burns in the Avian Patient

Burns are common in avian medicine. Many burns result from contact with hot liquids such as scalding water or cooking oil. Electrical burns arise from chewing on electrical wires and burns may also occur when pre-weaning birds are fed hot formula. Burns resulting from entrapment in burning buildings or inside containers, such as chick incubators with burning bedding, are not as common but are much more difficult to treat due to the complication of smoke inhalation.

Article 

Supplemental Heat for the Avian Patient

Small birds face an enormous task in maintaining their body temperature, especially in a cold environment, but fortunately plumage provides an effective barrier to heat loss. Down feathers trap air and allow little convective movement of heat to occur. Fluffing feathers increases insulation and…

Article 

Poisonings in the Avian Patient

Poisonings are relatively uncommon in companion bird emergency medicine, but these conditions do occur and can involve a wide assortment of toxins. In principal, treatment in birds is the same as for other animals. First, stabilize the patient presented with abnormal clinical signs. Establish an airway, initiate respiration, and address cardiovascular needs.

Article 

Fluid Therapy in the Avian Patient

Crystalloids, also called replacement fluids, are the mainstay of rehydration and maintenance fluid therapy, and they can be used together with colloids during resuscitation. Crystalloids are fluids containing sodium chloride and other solutes that are capable of distributing to all body fluid compartments. Replacement fluids have electrolyte concentrations that resemble extracellular fluid, whereas maintenance fluids contain less sodium (40-60 mEq/L) and more potassium (15-30 mEq/L). The most commonly used replacement fluids are 0.9% saline, lactated Ringer’s solution, Normosol-R, or…

Article 

Diagnosing and Treating Avian Neurologic Disease

The cranial nerve exam differs little from that of mammals, however there are differences in innervation. As in mammals, menace and pupillary light response (PLR) require use of cranial nerves II (optic) and III (oculomotor), however menace is difficult to interpret in birds. Also, PLR may be overridden in birds due to the presence of striated iridal muscle. Evaluate PLR early in the exam using a sudden, bright light directed toward the medial canthus. Consensual PLR is absent due to…

Article 

Pediatric Avian Medicine: Traumatic Conditions in the Psittacine Chick

Feeding excessively hot formula (>110°F) causes crop burns. This problem is particularly common when formula is heated in a microwave without thorough mixing. Early signs of crop burn include…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Oropharyngeal Plaques in Birds

Oropharyngeal lesions tend to be asymptomatic until lesions are quite advanced. Clinical signs associated with oropharyngeal disease vary, but may include anorexia, dysphagia, drooling, halitosis, head or food flicking and rubbing the beak. Diffuse disease or large focal lesions or diffuse disease can obstruct the choanal slit and/or glottis leading to wheezing, open-mouth breathing, dyspnea or in extreme cases suffocation…

Article 

Emergency Equipment Checklist

Looking for an emergency equipment checklist? Review general recommendations for preparing yourself, your staff, and your practice to special species.

Article 

Cardiopulmonary-Cerebral Resuscitation in Exotic Animals

The principles of CPR are the same for non-traditional species: Airway, Breathing…

Article 

Pain Management in Birds

This brief article was created to serve as a synopsis of LafeberVet’s longer, more detailed “Avian Analgesia” authored by avian veterinarian, Dr. Michelle Hawkins.

Article 

Raptor Ophthalmology: Ocular Lesions

The large size of the raptor eye and its relative lack of orbital protection superiorly and laterally means any form of head trauma frequently involves the eye and its associated structures. In one report, ocular injuries were most commonly caused by vehicular collision, gunshot and leghold traps. The most common clinical finding in birds of prey presented for medical attention is hyphema. Trauma may also lead to…

Article 

Air Sac Cannula Placement in Birds

Air sac cannulas are routinely used to ventilate birds by a route other than endotracheal intubation. Air sac tubes are used for oxygenation and anesthesia, especially during surgery of the head or trachea where tracheal intubation would be cumbersome. In addition, air sac cannulas provide a means to medicate air sacs directly, and they are also used to aid dyspneic birds with tracheosyringeal obstruction from foreign bodies, granulomas, or tumors.

Article 

Trauma in Avian Patients

Head trauma may occur when a bird flies into an object such as a window or ceiling fan, or when falls occur secondary to an improper wing trim, neurologic disease, or severe weakness. Evaluate the bird for evidence of head trauma such as blood in the choanal slit, ears, or nares. Gently palpate the skull. A fracture of pneumatic skull bone can allow air to escape creating emphysema. The pupillary light response (PLR) should also be evaluated, although PLR may be absent in birds with a normal reflex path due to avian anatomic differences. Perform a fundic exam, particularly in…

Article 

Abdominocentesis in Birds

Abdominocentesis or coelomocentesis may be indicated for the accumulation of fluid within one or more of the peritoneal cavities. Peritoneal fluid can accumulate with a variety of diseases, including chronic liver disease, amyloidosis in waterfowl, iron storage disease in mynah birds and toucans, coelomic tumors in budgerigar parakeets, viral infections like Marek’s disease (resulting in cardiac tumors), peritonitis, congestive heart failure, ovarian cysts, and trauma. This article reviews the potential complications of this clinical technique, the equipment needed, sample handling, and cytodiagnosis.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Beak Trauma

Beak trauma is a common problem in the companion parrot. Beak injury most often occurs secondary to bird bites and other forms of aggression. Other potential causes include damage from inappropriate caging or toys and iatrogenic damage during…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Shelled Egg Palpable

Detecting a shelled egg on physical examination is not necessarily a problem—birds lay eggs everyday! However palpation of a shelled egg is an important clinical finding that can be associated with dystocia. The egg is shelled in a distal part of the oviduct called the uterus or shell gland. Therefore a shelled egg would normally be palpable in either the…

Article 

Supportive Care for Birds: The Basics

Exotic animal practice is challenging! To approach any exotic animal patient requires a balancing act between the principles of “One Medicine-One Health” and species-specific information. The basic principles of avian medicine are the same as for a human being or a horse or a cat or a dog, and in many instances, veterinary care of birds may be extrapolated from basic medical principles. However this approach can only take one so far and these basic principles must be weighed against species-specific information.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Anorexia in Birds

Anorexia may be the only indication of poor health in the critically ill bird and by the time other clinical signs are apparent disease may be quite advanced. This means that all reports of poor appetite in the avian patient must be taken very seriously.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Diarrhea in Birds

Diarrhea may be defined as any change in the consistency or formation of the fecal portion of the dropping. Diarrhea is a common clinical presentation in birds, but it is important to differentiate true diarrhea from changes in other components of the droppings…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Upper Respiratory Signs in the Bird

Rhinitis or sinusitis in the bird can include a host of clinical signs including congestion, sneezing, oculonasal discharge, exophthalmos, as well as non-specific signs of illness such as reduced appetite, lethargy, and weight loss. If disease extends lower into the lower respiratory tract, cough, tachypnea, and…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Voice Change in Birds

Change in bird song or loss of voice can be valuable diagnostic clues. When a bird is presented for a change in or loss of voice, this will localize lesions to the…

Article 

Emergency Equipment Checklist for Avian Practice

When planning to accept avian patients, prepare yourself and your staff, prepare your hospital including hospital caging and exam rooms, and consider the equipment necessary for proper care…

Article 

Crop Stasis in Birds

The crop or ingluvies is a diverticulum of the esophagus present in many but not all, bird species. The crop serves as a food storage organ, regulating the flow of food through the gastrointestinal tract. Food within the crop is also softened by mucus glands. Crop stasis is a common clinical sign in which the crop fails to empty in a timely manner…

Article 

Crop Wash in Birds

Crop wash, also known as crop lavage or crop infusion, is indicated in patients with a history of persistent regurgitation unrelated to sexual behavior, crop stasis, crop impaction, or palpable abnormalities of the crop.

Article 

Heavy Metal Poisoning in Birds

Heavy metal poisoning in birds most commonly occurs from ingestion of substances containing lead, or less commonly zinc. Acute heavy metal toxicity is occasionally seen in companion parrots that ingest or chew on objects containing metal because of their curious nature and innate desire to forage. Chronic lead poisoning most frequently affects free-ranging wildlife such as ducks, geese, swans and loons and is most commonly seen during migration in the late fall and early spring. Lead toxicity also occasionally occurs in upland game birds such as mourning doves, wild turkey, pheasants and quail. Lead poisoning has also been reported in raptors, presumably from the ingestion of lead-contaminated prey.

Article 

Spinal Injuries in Birds

Traumatic injury is the most common reason for admission of wild birds to rehabilitation centers. Spinal injuries in birds are particularly problematic, as they are incredibly difficult to diagnose, localize, and manage.

Unique anatomic features of the avian spine…

Article 

Understanding Shock: Ten Important Facts

Rewarming is an important part of the resuscitation plan for small patients. As body temperature falls, adrenergic receptors are theorized to become refractory to catecholamine release. Therefore active rewarming is indicated for patients with moderate to severe hypothermia. Use forced warm air blankets, incubators, circulating warm water blankets, and/or…

Article 

Wound Management in Exotic Animals

Traumatic wounds are frequently seen in exotic animals, and are particularly common in wildlife patients. Appropriate wound management of wounds has significant impact on healing time and success.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Regurgitation in Birds

Regurgitation is a non-specific clinical sign, and it is not pathognomonic for any specific problem. Regurgitation can indicate a problem anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract or it may occur secondary to crop stasis caused by systemic illness.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Bite Wounds

Bite wounds are not confined to small animal practice. Bite wounds are a common and significant problem in clinical practice, and LafeberVet’s presenting problem article features urgent care tips for this universal problem of veterinary patients. The incidence of bite wounds increases with a history of exposure to the outdoors or to other animals. The owner may even report a fight or interaction that results in a bite wound.

Case Study 

Case Study Survey Radiographs: 5y Cockatoo With Open-Mouth Breathing, Poor Grip

Interpretations of radiographs from the article Veterinary Answers Case Study: 5-Year-Old Cockatoo With Open-Mouth Breathing and Poor Grip.

Case Study 

Veterinary Answers Case Study: 5-Year-Old Cockatoo With Open-Mouth Breathing and Poor Grip

This case study is based on a report prepared by Veterinary Answers Consultant, Gwen Flinchum, DVM, Dipl. ABVP (Avian). A 5-year old female umbrella cockatoo is presented for lethargy, open-mouthed breathing, and difficulty gripping of 2-3 days duration.

Article 

Nebulization of Avian Patients

Nebulization is used in avian medicine to deliver certain medications, usually antibiotics or antifungals, directly to the respiratory tract. Nebulization can provide hydration to the mucous membranes as well as provide an expectorant effect to help clear debris from the respiratory tract.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Crop Burn in Birds

Crop burns are commonly caused by thermal injury in young birds and, in rare instances, by ingestion of caustic chemicals in adult birds. Crop burn is generally caused by feeding formula that is too hot (>110ºF or 43.3ºC) or less commonly, contact with a heat lamp or heating pad. Damage typically occurs in the gravity dependent right ventral region of the crop where the weight of the food bolus presses heated material against the skin. This increased thermal exposure can lead to necrosis of the crop wall and skin forming a fistula that can leak food.