Emergency Care for Avian Patients on Long Island
-by Donna Barbaro
Do you have a vet for your flock? Do you bring your birds in for a checkup annually or semi-annually? Does your vet have Saturday or Sunday hours? Do you know where to get emergency care for your bird? At one point in your bird’s life, they may need emergency care – especially as your bird ages.
If you answered no and do not bring your birds for regular care, please establish yourself with one of the many avian vets we have across Long Island. Look online at The Association of Avian Veterinarians (https://www.aav.org) to find an avian veterinarian near you. Veterinarians who have the ABVP designation have taken extensive training in avian and exotics. The Long Island Parrot Society website also has a list of vets who treat birds.
If you are established with an avian veterinarian, do you know where to go for after-hours emergencies? Do you have a plan in place to get medical care if something happens outside your regular vet’s normal hours? You would be surprised to know that there are only 4 animal emergency clinics available that may be able to handle avian emergencies.
First, have a conversation with your vet as to what to do to obtain emergency care after hours.
Next, contact the clinic your vet recommends and get information BEFORE you need their services. Ask questions like:
1. If I have an emergency, should I call first? All the ER clinics advise calling first unless it’s a life-or-death emergency. Some may have avian-experienced staff on duty or have access to someone with experience to consult with. Some may have no one familiar with avian care. Better to know before you arrive so you can get to the right place the first time to ensure the best outcome for your bird.
2. Do you have someone on duty after hours who has avian experience? If no, does the on-duty vet have access to someone who DOES have avian experience.
3. Ask about cost for a basic ER visit. ER visits can be a LOT more expensive than regular visits and you may want to establish an emergency fund just for this situation.
4. Ask if they provide specialist services on site in case any are needed.
5. Ask what happens if they can only stabilize your bird? Where do THEY refer to?
Interestingly, most Animal Emergency Hospitals do NOT have avian-experienced veterinarians on duty after hours, but all vets have received basic avian training. They can handle broken bones, cuts, scrapes, and similar issues. Their main goal will be to stabilize your bird and relieve pain. They may suggest keeping your bird overnight or may return your bird to you with medication and instruction to see your regular vet for follow-up.
If your bird has a chronic or special medical condition, discuss ER care with your vet BEFOREHAND.
What Information Is Needed for an ER Visit?
While it seems like a lot of information, having a document ready could help your ER vet with diagnosis and treatment. Create a document that contains the following information and keep it up to date. This information is also helpful to have on hand if you travel with your bird:
1. Reason for visit
a. A brief description of the REASON for the visit including a description of the observed behavior, onset, precursors, and timeline.
2. Owner Information
3. Basic Bird information
a. Bird’s Name
c. Hatch date/age
d. Average weight
f. Regular avian vet and contact info
g. Optional: include a head and body picture for identification (if you travel)
4. Medical History
a. Summary of any injuries or medical conditions
b. Date of and reason for recent vet visits
c. Medications, dosages, frequency, reason for medication
d. Copies of recent bloodwork or test results
Even with all this information, ER vets may or may not be able to help you and they may suggest taking your bird to the Animal Medical Center in NYC.
24x7 ER Clinics that See Birds
Once you know who can handle avian emergencies, create an emergency contact sheet so you do not have to find this information in a crisis. Hang it on your fridge, keep it in your wallet, and keep it on your phone. You want to be able to access this information quickly and make the call so you can get your bird to care.
Veterinary Medical Center of Long Island (VMCLI)
75 Sunrise Hwy North Service Rd, West Islip, NY 11795
Note: ER docs do not have avian exotic experiences, but may be able to contact Dr. Melrose as needed.
Sees Avian patients for routine visits by appointment: Dr. Mehlrose
Central Veterinary Associates ER Hospital & Clinic (CVA)
73 W Merrick Rd, Valley Stream, NY 11580
Note: If Emergency is on a W-Thur-Fri, they have someone with avian exotics experience on overnight. Always call first to check.
Sees Avian patients for routine visits by appointment: Dr. Linda Pesek - ABVP (Avian Practice), Dipl ACVP, USDA Accredited, VMD
LI Bird & Exotic (LIBEVC)
Open: M- Sat, Sunday for emergencies only
333 Great Neck Road, Great Neck, New York 11021
516 482 1101
*For emergencies on Sundays and after hours call (516) 441-2726. Otherwise call (516) 482-1101.
Sundays Emergency BUT CALL FIRST-(516) 441-2726, Will try to accommodate emergencies during normal hrs.
Sees Avian patients for routine visits by appointment: Dr. Shachar Malka, ABVP (Avian Practice), DVM, but all their vets have avian experience
New York City
Animal Medical Center (AMC)
Dr. Cyndi Brown, DVM
510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065
(212) 838-8100 for emergencies, For appointments call: (212) 838-7053
Has separate ER
General Emergency Care Guidelines
1. Keep a carrier for your bird ready to go.
2. Keep your bird warm and in a dim/dark condition (to reduce stress and encourage rest).
3. Handle your bird as little as possible to reduce stress or exacerbate any medical condition.
4. Provide no food or water to minimize aspiration or other complications.
5. When calling an ER to check if they can help, stay calm and focus on the facts only: Species of
bird, age, description of the issue, onset, timeline, and the type of care you are seeking. Emotional processing can come later.
Reducing Stress Before a Crisis
Getting your bird familiar with being handled for a vet visit or receiving medication BEFORE it is required can greatly reduce stress for your bird.
1. Getting used to being in carrier
2. Touching body, beak, wings, feet
3. Being wrapped and held
4. Syringe Training for medications
Hopefully, you will never need an ER vet, but if you do, be as prepared as you can beforehand, and know where you can go to get urgent care.