Do you see your family doctor if you have a toothache? Or to your orthopedist if you have a severe allergy? Probably not, because these doctors would be the wrong experts to talk to and you would for sure prefer to go straight to a suitable specialist. It is the same regarding animals: Many small animal vets mainly treat mammals like cats and dogs. And there are specialists with an additional qualification, who for example are specialized in the treatment of birds and/or reptiles.
Even though many small animal vets have treated birds before, this doesn’t mean they’re specialists. Avian vets study the bird’s anatomy and diseases for quite a while to become highly skilled in treating these very special animals. Birds are not comparable to mammals like cats and dogs at all!
If you want to know whether a vet is trained in treating birds or not, you should ask him or her. Most veterinarians answer honestly to questions about their education and experience with birds. Caution is required when a small animal vet says something like “treating your bird shouldn’t be a problem”. You never know if this vet is actually more experienced than average or if she/he just overestimates her/his knowledge. In the worst case, a therapy attempt may fail, even though the disease of a bird could be successfully treated by a specialist. This means that the sick bird would be unnecessarily put in great danger.
It is always useful to make up your own opinion and evaluate the vet’s experience. Likely, you are not dealing with a proper bird doctor if a sick pet budgie is not examined closely and instead only receives an injection of a cryptic supplement to gain more strength. It should also make you suspicious if the vet uses an antibiotic on suspicion without even knowing whether bacteria cause your bird’s health issues or not. Bacteria are not always the cause of illness. In many birds, yeast fungi, for example, are also a possible cause. A qualified avian vet knows that that one shouldn’t administer any antibiotics on suspicion.
For certain, caution is advisable. But it would be wrong to distrust all small animal vets without additional training in treating birds in principle. Some of these vets can help budgies and other pet birds in many cases. Especially when it comes to relatively simple, common diseases or injuries, these vets often are reliable partners for bird owners. However, an honest and responsible vet will know her or his limits and send you to an avian vet in case your bird is suffering from an unusual or complex disease.
Wow to find avian vets?
Many local animal hospitals can provide addresses of avian vets. This applies also to animal shelters and zoos. Also, you can search the Internet and inform yourself on the web pages of the individual vets whether they completed appropriate additional training or not.
Another helpful approach is contacting groups of bird owners in social networks. You can exchange information with other people from your area about where to find a recommendable avian vet.