Physical Examination of the Avian Patient

Key Points

  • The basic approach to the avian physical examination is the same as in any other species.
  • Nevertheless it is particularly important in birds, and other exotic animals, to glean as many helpful clues as possible from the history and visual or hand’s off exam.
  • A minimum 5-10 minute acclimation period prior to the exam may allow the bird to relax. The bird may then display subtle signs of illness or dyspnea that might otherwise be missed.
  • Not all birds can undergo the stress of manual restraint and physical exam upon presentation. Supplemental heat in a dark, quiet environment and/or supplemental oxygen may be required to make the bird strong enough to handle even a brief exam.
  • Be prepared. Gather all equipment that might be needed beforehand, and make sure the room is secure.
  • Follow the same protocol during each physical examination, and take every opportunity to become familiar with the normal bird.
  • Key parts of the exam will vary, but generally include a body weight in grams, the oropharynx, crop, sternum, coelom, and vent. The fundus should be routinely evaluated in trauma patients.
  • After the exam, most birds of normal weight and health return to their pre-restraint respiratory rate within approximately 2-3 minutes.

Be prepared for your next bird patient. Review the basic approach to the avian physical examination, including history, review of signalment, and visual examination. Key parts of the exam will vary, but generally include a body weight in grams, the oropharynx, crop, sternum, coelom, and vent. The fundus should be routinely evaluated in trauma patients . . .


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