Illustrated Articles

Medical Conditions

  • Avian polyomavirus infection (APV) of pet birds belongs to the family Polyomaviridae. APV can cause benign feather lesions in budgies, slow crop emptying in weanling parrots, hemorrhages on the skin, or acute death. Species particularly susceptible to APV infection include budgies, Eclectus parrots, Caiques, and hawk-head parrots. Clinical signs, diagnostic testing, and preventive measures are explained in this handout.

  • Poxviruses can infect many species of birds, and each species of bird may have its own unique species of poxvirus. This handout explains three forms of the virus: cutaneous, diphtheroid, and septicaemic. Each of these forms has distinct clinical signs. Diagnosis, treatment, and ways to minimize the risk of infection in your bird are explained.

  • The most common conditions affecting pet prairie dogs are: obesity, dental problems, cardiac disease and intestinal parasites. Regular scheduled veterinary examinations will be of great benefit to help discover problems or diseases before they cause a critical illness.

  • Telemedicine is the act of practicing medicine from a distance and your appointment will be conducted by a licensed veterinarian. Before your appointment, gather information on your pet’s history and your current concern. Look at a calendar and write down a timeline of your pet’s problems. Be prepared to answer questions that you would normally be asked at an in-person appointment. Write notes to help you remember everything. Most telemedicine appointments involve the use of some type of video chat. Conduct your visit in a quiet area with good lighting and have your pet with you before the call starts. Not all concerns can be addressed through telemedicine. If your veterinarian is unable to arrive at a diagnosis via telemedicine, he or she can help you determine the next step for your pet to ensure that he or she receives optimal care.

  • Proventricular dilatation disease (PDD) is a very serious and often deadly disease affecting a wide variety of parrot species. Symptoms often involve one of the following conditions; vomiting, weight loss, passing undigested seeds in the stool or show neurologic signs. Avian Bornavirus infection has been linked in some cases to PDD.

  • Psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD) is a serious condition in parrot species for which there is no cure. The highly contagious virus attacks fast-growing epithelial cells, commonly causing visibly abnormal formations of the beak and/or feather follicles. The clinical signs vary depending on the species of bird and the age at which it was infected. Diagnostic testing is available and precautions must be taken when purchasing a new bird.

  • In the wild, a bird will endeavor to uphold a strong appearance when sick. This is called, survival of the fittest. By the time a pet bird actually shows an owner that it is unwell, it has likely been sick for some time. Many things contribute to ill health. This handout provides bird owners a categorized list of signs that should alert them that their bird is sick.

  • Reproductive disease in ferrets is rare today, as most pet ferrets are spayed or neutered at a young age. One disease that is still occasionally seen in pet ferrets occurs in females that are not spayed. This is called hyperestrogenemia and is a result of persistently high blood levels of estrogen in unspayed females that are not bred or fails to ovulate.

  • Abdominal swelling in any reptile is always a concern that needs to be brought to the attention of a veterinarian well versed in reptile medicine. In female reptiles, this swelling often means that the individual has eggs or fetus that are ready to be delivered. When the female cannot deliver the eggs or babies, this is referred to as dystocia. This condition can be life threatening and need attention ASAP.

  • Swellings on or around the joints in reptiles can be an indication of uric acid deposits in the area. This condition is referred to as gout. Gout is often painful and may also affect internal organs. Treatment will require medications and sometimes surgery.