Taking Bird For A Blood Test/Chemistry Profile

by Darci
(Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)

Hello I had wrote earlier regarding bubbles in my Sun Conure's droppings and have taken your advice to see a vet for a thorough exam. I have an appointment coming up on Sunday and was planning on having blood work done (CBC) and chemistry profile, in addition to the fecal Gram strain. The vet never specified but do I need to bring in a fecal sample or do they take one there?

Most of all, I am extremely concerned with having blood taken from my Sun as I have been told by members of my parrot club & read stories on the internet about how a bird can bleed to death during the procedure or if too much blood is taken, going into shock, having a heart attack, etc. I want to do what is best for my bird (she is 5 years old and has never had a blood test, she gets quite stressed at the vet when restrained in a towel for a physical exam)

I am so worried about her dying from the blood test, I would be beyond devastated. Is there anything I can do to prevent this tragedy from happening? Can you tell me how risky is taking blood from a Sun Conure and what would cause a bird to die from having blood taken? I have been told the vet I am seeing is very good, but has a new born baby at home and only works two days a week right now.

Also my Sun has been picking at her feathers (I know she is molting but it seems quite excessive) and also biting her toenails and seems generally itchy all over and quite tired-is there any tests I should request to address this issue? Sorry to ask so many questions but I am very concerned :(

Thank you so much in advance for any help you can provide, I hope you can put my mind at ease !

Comments for Taking Bird For A Blood Test/Chemistry Profile

Click here to add your own comments

Aug 29, 2018
My Sun Conure died 2 days ago from blood work
by: Anonymous

If only I had known, I would have never taken her. I took my Sun Conure Yoshi who was 3 1/2 years old to the annual routine vet appointment 2 days ago. She was happy and healthy as could be. Her normal checkup was ok. When they took her to the back I could hear her chirp when they took the blood. When they brought her back to me, the nurse put her back down on the exam table only for her to fall over. The nurse quickly took her to the back and said she needed some oxygen. I then heard behind the closed doors that she was having a seizure. The nurse came in moments later and I followed her to the back where I got to observe the doctors performing CPR on my lifeless bird and giving her oxygen. I knew then that nothing was going to bring her back. I went back to the exam room devastated. They brought back my lifeless bird and handed her to me. My boys and I buried her that evening. I will never hear her calling for me every morning before I wake up and have her flapping at me every evening till I put her in my jacket so she can snuggle with me. Now that she is dead I am having to search hard to hear the warnings. A small bird should not have blood work taken unless imperative. They can easily have a heart attack. If only I had the warnings before hand, my Yoshi's birdcage would not be standing empty and quiet today....

Feb 06, 2018
More to Add
by: AK

I posted about my green cheek on 9/11/17. I wanted to come back and offer my condolences to everyone here...I'm still devastated over the loss of my best friend 5 months ago.

I think this subject is so important and rarely talked about and further to the point, there is almost nothing we can do after the fact. I believe negligence was involved in my bird's death and I filed a complaint with the state. The investigator called me and told me that it's almost impossible to successfully file a complaint against a vet since the pet owner rarely has concrete evidence. In most cases, the animal is taken into a back room and we have no idea what actually happened. He told me that if something went wrong, it's unlikely the vet would admit to it.

I asked what a pet owner's recourse is and he said I could sue, but pets have almost no monetary value. In truth, vets pay almost nothing for insurance because it is near impossible for pet owners to win a claim against them.

I respect veterinarians but this experience has left me horrified at the complete lack of oversight they face when trusted with the lives of our companion animals. It's true, animals are not humans, but they are our family members and we all know the death of a beloved pet is no easier than losing a human friend...quite often it's harder. Also, don't assume anyone knows more about your bird than you...my current vet told me that.

For those of you who've lost birds, please consider adopting. Not everyone has the patience, time and personality required to care for a parrot and there are so many that have been abandoned. We can learn from this and help other birds in tribute to our little angels.

Jan 26, 2018
twigs passing
by: Brandi

I wanted to add that last June my baby 3 year old cockatiel passed away getting a routine blood draw. He was Ill on and off for months prior to the draw. We took him to Dr. O in Toledo who is an avian specialist. We put off the draw for months until he stabilized. I was hesitant but everyone was insistent he get it done. His blood didn't clot and moments later I was clutching him lifeless. I still am nearly a year later totally destroyed and traumatized by his loss.
In his case it turned out his portal vein was enlarged and the amount of blood pumping through his liver caused liver damage, making it fatal to draw blood.

I wouldn't ever do a draw again. Ever.

Dec 29, 2017
My parakeet also died due to unneeded blood test
by: DavidVC

Sunshine had a bacterial infection which was resistant to the antibiotic he was currently taking ... this was obvious from symptoms.. even the dr agreed.

He was 10% below ideal weight, but improving rapidly ... just needed a new prescription, nothing else, to finally finish the job.

Doc (Exotics Specialist, but intern, actually, we found out later, at largest VH in NJ) claimed blood work was risk free, nothing to worry about to our strongly expressed concerns. He was dead 4 min later.

I don't know about larger birds, but NEVER give a blood test to an underweight small bird! Any doctor who says otherwise is misinformed at best.

Dr. Rudderman of Staten Island VH, NYC will back this up. I can't believe we let this intern talk of out of our conviction NOT to do this. There was no real expectation the test would even reveal any issues ... we KNEW what the problem was without doubt.

Bottom line: DON'T DO A BLOOD TEST unless bird is fully up to weight AND there is good reason to suspect a problem that the blood test is needed to reveal and for life threatening reasons !!!!!!!

Our Thanksgiving / Christmas this year sucks due to this :( Where oh where is our beautiful, talkative, happy, chattering, kissing "I love you" bird?)

In the ground at Liberty State Park, under a pretty tree.

Sep 11, 2017
My bird died as well
by: Anonymous

I know this is old, but my Green Cheek Conure died a couple of days ago during a routine blood test. He was totally fine beforehand other than an issue with his foot. I believe either the vet or tech fatally injured him or he had a heart attack from the stress. He was 4 years old and had blood drawn previously with no issue. I've also had blood drawn from many, many other birds including small ones and it was always fine.

If it's an anxious or older bird I advise against it. If it must be done, see if it can be accomplished with a nail clip vs a needle. If the bird is super stressed by the vet even before, don't let them do it unless 100% necessary for a health issue. Many reputable parrot stores and rescues will test the birds for all relevant diseases beforehand so you don't have to worry about it when you adopt them.

Aug 14, 2014
Bird death
by: Anonymous

My bird, beautiful and happy go "Lucky" just died from a blood test. She was a conure and I had wished it never happened. I think she would have been fine in the long run if she didn't have the blood test. Make sure you have an avian specialist with lots and lots of experience. RIP Lucky.

Jul 07, 2013
blood sample bleeding
by: mikev247@hotmail.com

i see your entry was from 2009 but i have to post this. yesterday i took my cockatiel to vet for foot problem. as an add on vet sugested some wellness checks that included blood work. she was about 10 and never to vet. as a result of attemping to collect sample my bird bleed to death. having sample drawn she died.

Dec 04, 2009
Do not do it
by: Anonymous

My 18 year old conure just died from a simple blood test. She was singing and happy on her way to the vet, and came home in a box, all because of a simple blood test.

Feb 26, 2009
Taking bird to the Vet
by: The Vet

As far as taking a sample:
No, your vet will collect one directly from the cloaca.

As far as the blood test goes:
Several points here.

First, the vet should be experienced with drawing blood and should know how much to draw. It takes only a very small amount of blood to do the testing. Usually all testing can be dome with 0.5cc or less. I suspect your sun conure weighs around 110 grams (give or take a few). This means that 1.1cc of blood can be safely taken without any harm.

Second, handling is more stressful than drawing the blood. If your vet and the technician are experienced with handling birds, then this should go smoothly, too.

Third, I don?t recommend or use towels. This can be very stressful. I use my AviStraint. It is much more comfortable to the bird and much less stressful.

http://www.avistraint.com/Pages/UsesGuides.html# - Scroll to the very bottom and click on the video link. Feel free to share this information with your vet. She could purchase these AviStraints if she is interested.

I don't think there is anything to worry about. If your vet has bird experience, she should be capable of drawing blood safely.

Feather picking question:
You should start with the basics. CBC, chem panel, cloacal culture, physical exam. You should also vaccinate for polyomavirus if your bird is healthy and have DNA sexing performed so you are sure of the sex (which helps diagnosing some diseases). The feather damaging behavior and the bubbles may be related or not. A general work up to start and then further investigation if there are no abnormalities on the general.

Based on the feather damaging and the nail chewing, I think your bird is anxious or uncomfortable in her environment. What size cage is she in? Where is the cage located within your home? Do you have a full spectrum light on her? Has anything changed in the home ? new pets, new tenants, routine change...? Feather damaging behaviors are very complicated.

Let me know what happens with your vet and how your bird does there.

Dr B

Article you might want to read: Bird Plucking Help

Click here to add your own comments