Hands are wonderful things when dealing with
animals. They let you pet your dog, scratch your cat, scritch your
bird, and help remove those nasty feather cuticles on the head.
Hands help us communicate with animals—and they help us locate
With my hands I can:
Locate a fracture on the leg or
Find a gun pellet under the
Locate a feather cyst
Find an egg
Feel an enlarged liver.
Notice a foreign object in the
Feel changes from metabolic
bone disease in the legs or back.
Find a mass on the skin
Feel some masses in the abdomen
Know that there is a leak in
Feel old trauma on the keel or
side, or old fracture of the wings or legs.
Can know the birds diet is to
high in fat and/or seed
I believe all thorough Doctors use their senses
to locate problems. Sight is obvious, and probably our primary
sense. But touch is the second most important sense. Beware of a
doctor who will not pick up your bird. (The exception being a bird
very weak or in severe respiratory distress where we must discuss
Then we have hearing and smell. A good
stethoscope will tell you a lot about the heart and lungs, and we
frequently can hear problems with the sinuses and lungs. You can
smell some problems with the ears, sinuses, crop and of course
stool. The only sense I don’t use much is taste—lucky for the
And my so-called lesson today is to encourage
you to use your senses too. Know what is normal for your bird.
Don’t be afraid to sniff their breath or feel their crop. If you
hear a click or wheeze, there is a reason for it. Don’t wait too
long to see a vet who will do a more complete "physical" exam and
recommend other tests if called for.
Kay Duffin, DVM
Academy Pet Hospital
6000 Academy Rd NE
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