Dr. Heather Barron presented this webinar on avian critical care. View a recording of the live, interactive event, then take the brief post-test to earn 1 hour of continuing education credit. The goal of wildlife medicine is always eventual release and therefore triage of avian wildlife may vary based on case load, regulations, and the presenting situation. Dr. Barron examines the guidelines used to set triage policy and the reasons a bird may not be releasable or have a good quality of life in captivity. She then discusses practical measures intended to alleviate suffering and improve the odds of patient survival, such as fluid support, analgesia, evaluation of blood volume, and transfusion. This presentation concludes with a brief discussion on assessing life and euthanasia.
The avian patient poses special challenges for delivery of injectable medications. Although the techniques involved are not unique to birds, special knowledge of avian anatomy as well as delicate, proficient technical skills are required. Depending on the species, the individual, and the clinical situation, injections can be delivered by intramuscular, intravenous, intraosseous, subcutaneous, intratracheal, or intracoelomic routes. Parenteral drug administration provides the advantage of delivering a precise dose when a rapid therapeutic response is necessary. Disadvantages include stress as well as the potential irritation or pathology that can occur at the injection site.
The basic principles of fluid therapy are the same in the reptile as seen in birds and mammals, however reptile anatomy and physiology make some features of this crucial supportive care procedure unique. This article reviews fluid resuscitation with the use of crystalloid fluids and colloids, indications for replacement fluids including signs of dehydration and osmolarity values reported in reptiles. Routes of fluid administration in reptiles are described include subcutaneous, oral, soaking, intracoelomic, intraosseous, and intravenous via the cephalic vein, jugular vein, and in rare instances intracardiac catheter placement. Patient monitoring, including blood pressure measurement and signs of overhydration, are also explored.
Among exotic animals, venous cutdown is most commonly employed in reptiles like lizards and snakes although intraosseous catheters are also placed in lizards. Similarly, when an exotic companion mammal like a ferret or rabbit suffers from severe hypovolemia, dehydration, hypotension, and vascular collapse, intraosseous catheters have largely replaced venous cutdowns but this technique is occasionally employed.
Fluid therapy is an important part of supportive care, and there are several routes available for fluid support in the reptile. Subcutaneous and/or oral fluids are appropriate for mild to moderate dehydration, while intracoelomic, intravenous, or intraosseous fluids are administered to critically ill reptiles or to patients with moderate to severe dehydration.
Reptile owners are routinely instructed on oral or intramuscular drug administration techniques for outpatient care. In many instances and in many species, parenteral injections are preferred over the oral route. Injectable medications can be delivered intramuscularly, subcutaneously, intracoelomically, intravenously, or…
General anesthesia is generally required for placement unless the patient is extremely weak. A spinal needle or hypodermic needle may be selected.