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A certified Avian Vet is someone who has gone through veterinary school and has
also completed the following:  Either 2 extra years as an intern involving avian practice OR has 6 years practicing veterinary medicine with a certain percentage of that practice devoted exclusively to birds and parrots.  Either way,  the Vet must then pass the board exam to be considered a Certified Avian Vet.  As we equate "specialists" in human medicine,  so do we bestow the same honor on Vets who acquire extra letters behind their name.  But does this designation really tell us how proficient the vet is?

Let me tell you my own story quickly:

I know a "Certified Avian Vet"  that shouldn't be around anything other than dogs & cats.  He has caused more injury to birds than he has helped.  Before his reputation got too far out of hand,  he hired a proficient vet that did not have the "Certified" label but was in fact a very good avian vet.  So now this doctor advertises his practice as the only "Certified Avian Vet" in the area,  while he never touches a bird.  His partner is the one who does all the work and while not "Certified"  is a great avian vet.

Now,  in my same town is a vet who specializes in avian medicine.  She has an interest and love for birds and has 6 of her own.   Because one of her birds became ill years ago,  she decided that she was going to learn everything she possibly could about them and so then devoted every waking moment to avian medicine while at the same time operating her dog & cat practice.   Soon people were bringing her birds & parrots and years later as of this date,  I consider her to be the best avian practitioners in my city. She has not gone-out for the "Certification" as of this date simply because she doesn't need to.  Her reputation is such that she's so busy with birds that she couldn't handle any more of a case-load extra letters behind her name or not.

Why Am I Telling You This?


Simply because there are really horrible "Certified" avian vets out there and wonderful dog & cat vets who might be much more qualified in avian medicine.  For instance, as an  Certified intern,  a vet may wonder around for 2 years with his hands in his pockets and not really get the "hands on" training that we all expect to see.  We all are familiar with people who learn quickly  ( we call it book learning ) but turning that into actual practice is something entirely different.  This field of medicine is fairly complicated and so for the most part.... those who actually love birds will be the best at it,  while those who only want the money or prestige will indeed pass the test, while not be as proficient in avian medicine as the common dog/cat vet who see's as many birds (if not more) than he does dogs & cats.  The bottom line is that YOU must do your homework just as you (should) when you choose a physician for yourself.

So... how do you really find out who's the best "bird doctor" in town?  One of the best ways is to simply call every vet in your area and ask them who they'd recommend to see your bird as a patient.  Most vets realize that if they're not proficient in the practice of avian medicine.... they can be sued.  So they will most likely refer you to someone who is.   Naturally, word of mouth from people who have found that doctor is another,  if not the best way.  Some websites have an entire list of things to ask a prospective vet to see if he's proficient.  While this may be a good idea,  the receptionist who answers your call on the phone wont be able to answer you,  and the vet will be much too busy to stay on the phone all day answering these questions.  One thing you CAN ask and should get an answer is "How long has he/she practiced avian medicine?"  Once you're satisfied with the answer,  you can then make an appointment for an exam and ask other questions and also NOTE HOW THE VET HANDLES YOUR BIRD.  It's very obvious that a competent vet will be very comfortable around your companion and you'll know before the session is over whether or not the guy or gal knew what the hell they were doing.  An honest vet will tell you straight-out his qualifications.

I hope this gives you something to think about the next time you see the need for a
vet visit.  Finally,  please make contact with a good avian vet long before you actually need him or her.  Don't wait until your bird is ill to go shopping for a vet.  This is not the time to waste time.  Plus... established patients will always have preference,  so become one with your vet before you may actually need him.