Venipuncture in Birds

Key Points

  • The value of testing must always be weighed against the stress of venipuncture since the critically ill bird may not be stable enough for restraint.
  • Common venipuncture sites in the bird are the jugular, medial metatarsal, and basilic veins.
  • In many avian species, including the parrot, the most common site for blood collection is the jugular vein.
  • The basilic vein is a particularly useful site in larger bird species like raptors or in species that lack a featherless tract over the jugular vein such as pigeons and waterfowl.
  • The medial metatarsal vein tends to be smaller than the basilic vein, but is particularly popular in birds that lack a featherless tract over the jugular vein like pigeons, waterfowl and other aquatic birds.
  • To minimize the risk of hematoma formation, select the smallest gauge needle possible.
  • Up to 10% of blood volume (or 1% of total body weight in grams) can be safely drawn from healthy birds. Smaller samples, measuring no more than 0.5% of body weight, should be collected from critically ill or anemic birds.

Blood work is considered a basic diagnostic test in every species, including birds. Venipuncture may be indicated for wellness screening, sample collection for DNA sexing, evaluation of the ill or injured bird, as well as collection of blood for transfusion. The value of testing must always be weighed against the stress of venipuncture since the critically ill bird may not be stable enough for restraint. This article reviews equipment needed, the volume of the blood sample, general tips for blood collection, common venipuncture sites in the bird, and sample handling . . .


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