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PREPARING FOR YOUR VET APPOINTMENT

Although transporting your bird in a cage seems logical, your pet actually prefers a quiet, dark place for traveling.

For a small bird such as a canary, a cardboard box can serve as a nice carrier. Find one small enough that your bird cannot fly around in it and injure herself. Then punch airholes in the lid and sides and secure the lid with tape or a rubber band.

For larger birds, use a plywood box with a hinged lid. You can make the box yourself, but add plenty of airholes, a hinged lid and a bolt or padlock to secure the lid. It would be dangerous for both you and your bird if she escaped in the car. Put the transport box on the floor of the car to keep your pet warm and safe.

Once inside the veterinarian's office, your bird will be exposed to many new sights and odors. She will probably be anxious and may make a fuss, but do not remove her from the box until you are in the examination room with the door safely closed behind you. This is the only way to ensure that your pet won't get hurt. Instead, talk to your bird in a soothing voice.

If you are taking a sick bird to the veterinarian, transport her in a hospital cage or take steps to ensure she doesn't get chilled. You can wrap your bird in a towel, put a light covering over the transport box or turn on the heat in the car. Birds prefer a temperature between 78 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. You can monitor the temperature with a thermometer.

What to Take with You

If your bird is sick, you must tell the veterinarian about all your bird's signs of illness. Many signs are slight, and only you know your pet well enough to discern those changes in behavior, appetite and mood. If, for example, you notice your bird huddling up, eating less, behaving lethargically or just acting off color, document the change in writing and keep a daily record. Before you go to your appointment, review that record to see if there is a pattern. Also, show the record to your veterinarian. It can help the doctor make a diagnosis and formulate an effective treatment plan.

If you have moved and this is your first visit to a new veterinarian, bring your bird's past medical records with you. The veterinarian will need these records in the future to assess your bird's health. A new pet owner should try to get as much health-related information as possible to the veterinarian before the visit. Whatever the ailment, a stool sample may be valuable in making a diagnosis. Call ahead and ask whether you should collect one. And, if you think your bird has been poisoned, be sure to bring the suspicious substance or plant with you if possible.