Finding any vet
It can be difficult even finding a vet that has experience with birds, much less one you are comfortable working with. A search for “bird vet”, “avian vet”, or “exotic vet near me” can be a good start. Ideally, you want someone that is a certified avian vet. Absent that, find someone that is comfortable with treating birds who can at least stabilize your bird in an emergency so that you can bring them to a faraway bird vet.
Finding a great vet
Many of us have run into doctors that like to run the show and bristle when being questioned. They are the doctor and we are the patient. This same mentality finds its way into vets as well. Both doctors and vets tend to be conservative and traditional. They can be skeptical of less mainstream methods for care and treatment.
If you find yourself agreeing with some of the posts on this blog, you are likely to be in conflict with your local vets. The conventional wisdom on many bird topics is vastly different in some areas, especially nutrition.
So how do you find a compatible vet, presuming you have more than one to choose from? I always propose that people schedule an appointment just to meet the vet and treat it like an interview. Never hurts to bring a bird that may need a checkup or maybe you have some questions about them.
Here are some things I do on the first visit:
- I always say up front that I have strong opinions on bird care and I’m hoping to find someone that is willing to be flexible.
- I ask them whether they will work with me even if I make choices they don’t agree with, like not feeding my bird a processed (pelleted) diet.
- I tell them I’m scientifically minded and that if they want me to change something I believe in, I will probably want to see some evidence to support the change.
- I want to know that they are open to non-pharmaceutical or non-invasive options to treat conditions.
- I want them to be completely on the same page with regard to my opinions about euthanasia. Everyone has their own threshold for when euthanasia should be used and your wishes need to be respected.
- I ask them if they follow scientific journals such as the Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine or Avian Research. I ask them if they belong to any bird organizations or go to conferences. This will help figure out whether they are open to updating their knowledge.
It’s hard sometimes to be assertive with doctors and vets. Vets have spent many, many years getting their degrees and they deserve respect and it can be intimidating. I don’t think it’s disrespectful to challenge a vet who has spent years studying birds. A good vet will relish the debate.
You want a vet that will be a partner and never an adversary.