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How to Find an Avian Veterinarian   How to Find an Avian Veterinarian

    If you're looking for an avian veterinarian in your area, please check out the Association of Avian Veterinarians at, where you can search their database of current members or lookup a current AAV vet. Also, you may locate a Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, who is "board certified" in Avian Practice.

    An "avian veterinarian" is someone who is willing to treat birds; any veterinarian can call himself or herself an avian veterinarian.

    A "certified avian veterinarian" or "board certified veterinarian" is a veterinarian who has received certification from the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). Certification is given by the ABVP and includes documentation of six years of significant avian practice experience or a formal residency plus scientific papers, plus a rigorous series of examinations.

      The following is required for ABVP Certification:
      1. Curriculum Vitae
      2. Synopsis Of Veterinary Practice
      3. American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, Avian Practice, Self-Report Job Experience Form
      4. Continuing Education Documentation - document at least 90 hours of formal continuing education accumulated during the last five years prior to certification. Continuing education must support the practice category in which you seek certification. Not more than 10% of the continuing education may be in practice management.
      5. Case Reports - Five original sets of two Case Reports (except as noted in Special Requirements on p. 7) must be submitted as part of the application. These Case Reports should represent different topics in your specialty category. Individual and population cases are acceptable in all practice categories. The reports should include complete and appropriate diagnostic workups and medical and/or surgical managements. Case Reports should reflect your professional expertise and demonstrate your ability to use medical principles in the diagnosis and treatment of animals. A unique diagnosis or surgical technique does not, in and of itself, make an acceptable Case Report, unless the case is managed and presented appropriately. The Case Reports represent your ability to communicate medical observations and data in an organized and appropriate manner. Errors in spelling or syntax, or failure to follow the Case Report instructions, reflect poorly on your professionalism and will adversely affect the evaluation.
      6. Case Report Evaluation - To maintain anonymity in the Case Report review process, Case Reports are submitted for valuation (separate from your Application, diploma, CE documentation, practice experience, curriculum vitae and Applicant Evaluation Forms) to three Diplomates in your specialty category.
      7. Applicant Evaluation Forms - Completed Applicant Evaluation Forms of acceptable performance are required from three professional colleagues (listed as References on your Application Form) who know you well and are familiar with your clinical abilities. At least one must be completed by a board-certified Diplomate of an AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty board.

      Additional Information about ABVP Certification
      1. ABVP Board Certification - Power Point Presentation
      2. Avian Practice Study & Reading Guide - ABVP
      3. Applicant Handbook for Board Certification - ABVP
      4. American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, Avian Examination Blueprint

    There are quite a number of qualified/competent avian veterinarians who are not yet certified. Many of these veterinarians belong to the Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV). While a veterinarian who is interested in birds may be a member of the AAV, AAV membership only infers that an individual paid annual dues. But, members of the AAV usually take yearly continuing education classes on the care and medicine of pet birds.

    Many non-certified vets have an interest in avian medicine and their knowledge is self-taught via conferences, colleagues, medical journals, etc., so there is a wide range of expertise among avian veterinarians. Some are board certified (Dipl. ABVP) in avian medicine or surgery while most are not. It's very important to seek out an avian veterinarian who is qualified to treat your birds and develop a relationship with that veterinarian though routine office exams before being faced with an emergency. When you have a critically ill bird is not the time to be looking for an avian veterinarian.

    Make sure to take into consideration how long the veterinarian has been treating sick birds and if they have heated cages for their sick birds and what percentage of their patients are avian and also what type of anesthesia they use. They should use isoflurane. You want to be sure they feel comfortable handling all types of birds and itís always a plus if your avian veterinarian shares his or her home with a few birds.
  1.   How does one choose a vet for their bird?

      You should speak with several vets before you make your decision on which vet is right for you. Talk to friends who own birds, or talk to the pet store or bird farm where you got your bird about the vets they use before you begin making phone calls to vet offices, or before visiting them in person. This helps you to narrow down your search.

  2.   What to ask when you interview a potential vet...

      When you interview a vet, either in person or on the phone, it's helpful to have a list of question written down that you can check off as you ask them.

      Here are some questions you might want to include:

      1. Because avian medicine is new, it is constantly changing and being updated. Ask what methods they use to keep updated on new avian medical advances. (They should be taking advantage of the AAV continuing education classes.)
      2. Do they believe in yearly well bird and new bird exams?
      3. What is included in a yearly well bird exam?
      4. What is included in a new bird "well bird" exam?
      5. What wing trimming and nail clipping methods do they use?
      6. Ask them what avian diagnostic equipment they have.
      7. What methods of decontamination do they use between each examination?
      8. Do they have emergency hours or make house calls?
      9. Ask about their fees. Remember the better the veterinarian the more expensive they might be. But, how do you place a dollar amount of the quality of care that you pet receives, especially when they are sick?

      It's essential that you feel comfortable with your vet. When interviewing a potential vet, do they seem to show interest in birds? Can they explain to your satisfaction the answers to your questions? Are they open to the idea of obtaining a second opinion if needed? Do you believe the vet will tell you if they don't know or are unsure of something? What does your intuition tell you? Do you feel comfortable with and confident in this vet?

      Because avian medicine is specialized, finding a Board Certified or AAV member vet that takes advantage of the AAV's continuing educating classes can prove a bit more difficult. Most will be located in or near cities. Sometimes, it's a good idea to have 2 vets if you are not located near a Board certified vet, in the event of an emergency or life-threatening situation. The vet you might choose for emergency situations should have avian knowledge and should feel comfortable treating a bird in an emergency situation, and should be willing to refer your bird with their records of treatment to your board certified avian vet, should further treatment or testing be required.

  3.   Switching Vets?

      Make sure to ask for:
      • Copies of ALL office notes
      • Copies of any lab tests
      • X-rays (or radiographs). Radiographs are the property of the office that took them, but ALL offices should be willing to let you borrow them to take to another veterinarian for an appointment.

  4.   What to look for at your first exam...

    1. During your first exam you want to be sure that the veterinarian and technician are comfortable handling your bird. Some very experienced and talented avian veterinarians can even handle the bird themselves and draw blood from the largest of birds to the very small finches without any assistance.
    2. Make sure that your veterinarian feels comfortable getting a blood sample from your birdís artery in his/her neck for blood testing.
    3. Make sure that your bird was weighed with a GRAM scale and that the measurement is recorded in GRAMS.
    4. New Bird Exam: Make sure the veterinarian asks about your birdís history. For example, how long did you have your bird, where did you purchase your bird, and are there other birds in your household?
    5. New Bird Exam: If this is your first bird, diet, and husbandry should be discussed as well as cage size, toys, cleaning products used, bedding, and household dangers.

    © 2007-2009 Avian Education & Resource Center

    main · care · diet · illness · behavior · veterinary medicine · intelligence · anatomy
    rescues · ethics · early development · species specific · behavior consultants · recipes
    wild birds · favorite books · links · other resources · just for fun · rainbow bridge · other pets · contact