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Old 01-06-2019, 09:02 AM
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A Reason To Always Get A Second Opinion When It Comes To Birds

Last night I was watching some older episodes of "Dr. K's Exotic Animal ER", many of you are familiar with the show and know that it is a documentary-style show that takes place at Broward Avian and Exotic Veterinary Hospital in Deerfield Beach, FL (Fort Lauderdale area); the practice is owned by Dr. Susan Kelleher, a CAV and Exotics Veterinarian of almost 30 years. She specializes in Avian medicine and Avian surgical procedures....Well I watched an episode last night from 2017 that was frightening...and that made me so angry I could have thrown something through my TV...

A couple in their late 50's brought in their Greenwing Macaw, Bubba, to see Dr. K for a THIRD opinion...They brought Bubba home at 4 months old, and Bubba had just turned 22 during this episode of the show...Bubba's dad had been a first-responder at the Pentagon on 9/11, and Bubba was his "Therapy" afterwards, as his dad put it...They have no human children, just Bubba. So you can understand their relationship with Bubba, and Bubba's with them...Bubba cuddled close to his mama the entire visit, he is the sweetest, most loving parrot I've ever seen...And very well cared for...They live in Virginia, outside of Washington D.C., and they drove Bubba down to Fort Lauderdale, FL to see if Dr. K could save his life, as 2 other CAV's already told them to euthanize Bubba...Yes, 2 other Avian specialists, apparently good ones according to Dr. K.

Bubba was totally fine, no signs of illness at all, except he had suddenly started plucking his lower belly completely bald. That was it, that was Bubba's only sign/symptom, but he had never plucked anywhere before, and wasn't plucking anywhere else. And Bubba's belly was completely bare, not even a pin feather anywhere, with a completely straight line of feathers going across is upper belly/lower chest where he stopped plucking...So they took Bubba to their regular CAV, who did all the regular tests: Blood-Work, Fecal, etc...All was normal...So this CAV sent them to another Avian Specialist, who took x-rays...And on the x-rays they saw a huge mass in Bubba's lower abdomen that looked very vascularized and appeared to be right in the middle of his Intestines, feeding off of it's blood-supply...This specialist sent the x-rays back to their regular CAV, but told them it was totally inoperable and that they should put Bubba down...Their regular CAV reviewed the x-rays and told them the same, that they needed to euthanize Bubba before he got very sick...They "had no interest in doing that" as they very firmly stated, lol, and so they asked where the best of the best in parrot surgeons in the country were located...and the CAV specialist referred them to Dr. K in Florida...So they called Dr. K and she told them to come on down immediately, right now...So they made the 19 hour drive with Bubba...

Dr. K had the x-rays sent to her from the specialist, and they showed them on the TV show...Dr. K too thought that it looked to be a very large mass/tumor that was smack dab in the middle of Bubba's intestines, and even stated prior to operating on him that she was nervous as all-hell about doing the surgery, but she still agreed to try to remove the mass/tumor, because otherwise Bubba was definitely dead...So Dr. K took him to surgery that day...As soon as Dr. K made the very first incision (which they showed on TV), Bubba's intestines came bursting through the incision, which should not happen, as the wall of the Peritoneum holds all the organs inside...Well guess what? Bubba didn't have a "mass/tumor" at all, HE HAD A FREAKING HERNIA!!! That's right, because they had only done regular x-rays and not an ultrasound before deciding that Bubba should be "euthanized", by 2 CAV's, they couldn't see that it wasn't a mass/tumor, but just a Hernia...And Hernia's are very painful, so that's why Bubba had plucked his entire lower belly bald over-top of the Hernia, because it hurt!!! Dr. K said that she would have done an Ultrasound and possibly a CT Scan if still needed before recommending such a young Macaw be euthanized, but that she didn't blame the other 2 CAV's because she too thought it was a tumor inside of Bubba's intestines based on the plain x-rays...

You should have seen the faces of Bubba's parents when they came out and told them that not only did Bubba do fine with the anesthesia, but that Bubba didn't even have a mass or a tumor, but just a big Hernia that they quickly repaired!!! Bubba's dad goes "Wait, so no cancer then either, right? No Chemo?". Apparently they had been told that even if the mass/tumor could have been removed, that because "it had grown so quickly" that it was most-likely an aggressive Cancer, and Bubba would still have to endure rounds of Chemo/Radiation, multiple hospital stays, and possibly more surgeries. Bubba's dad actually said "So he doesn't even need an Anastomosis?", so for him to know the word "Anastomosis" and know what it meant told me that the other two Vets had told them if a surgeon was able to remove all of the tumor/mass from his intestines, that they would have to do an Anastomosis and Bubba would have to have a bag connected to what would be left of his intestinal tract after the surgery...That to me is A LOT of guess-work, assumption, and just plain scare-tactics used by the other two CAV's to try to convince them to euthanize Bubba. There is absolutely no-way to know if a patient with a tumor/mass in their intestinal tract and who's intestines are functioning completely normally, and who's intestines appear obviously totally alive in the x-ray will have to have an Anastomosis done until they actually get inside, attempt to remove the tumor/mass, and then see how much of the intestines they had to remove in order to remove the mass/tumor!!! So to me that's not cool for ANY doctor to do based simply on a regular x-ray, when they know that they have no idea what the end-result would be and were literally just trying to "scare" Bubba's owners into euthanizing him...Is this laziness? Or is this just two different CAV's trying to save a couple from spending a bunch of money and time, and from putting their bird through a bunch of painful procedures? I don't know, but it's not cool to tell someone that their bird will "definitely need" horrible procedures to be done when they don't have a clue if that's true or not ...It was a moment of extreme happiness and relief that quickly went to "My God, I'm glad we didn't listen to the other two CAV's"...

For me, as someone who deals with animal/bird medicine on a regular basis, it just reinforces that there is nothing more important to helping an animal, bird, or human that has a medical issue than thorough diagnostic testing. And if you see a large mass/tumor that is growing "into the intestines", yet the bird is not acting sick and their blood-work is totally normal, you need to take the next step..and the next, and the next, until you get a definitive diagnosis. You can't just look at one test that is abnormal and 10 others that are normal and go "Euthanize them"...

**Just to add something: This should be a lesson for all "Parronts", as well as all owners of other pets/family members, to not just take what the first Vet tells us as the "Gospel", and to seek a second opinion; Even more-so, we ALL need to make sure that we request, if not DEMAND that our Veterinarians run all the diagnostic-tests that they can BEFORE just guessing on a diagnosis...and before just prescribing any medications to our birds, reptiles, etc. "just in-case" and without running simple, basic, cheap diagnostic tests, like cultures/microscopy, blood-work, and x-rays. #SAYNOTOBAYTRIL
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Last edited by EllenD; 01-06-2019 at 09:25 AM.
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Old 01-06-2019, 10:08 AM
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Re: A Reason To Always Get A Second Opinion When It Comes To Birds

That's a great story, with a happy ending for them! Anything serious should get a second opinion, even if you have had great vet for years.
And people too! I had sever abdominal pain for a year and a half, had X-rays, and ultrasound, many times. The pain became so sever I couldn't walk, and parents drove from Illinois and took me to Mayo clinic. I asked the doctor to do an exploratory surgery. He told me he would but be prepared that it would be all for nothing. Turned out I had a fist sized endometrial tumor on the back of my uterus, and sterile peritonitis from the blood leaking from the tumor. When I woke up he had already taken the tumor in a bucket to show my parents, and told me I must have been in unimaginable pain. Uh yeah I had! After the surgery I didn't even need pain meds, when the doctor asked me why, I said the pain from the surgery is not even 1/100th of the pain I was in before!!

I also had a cat born with one kidney, and at age ten she had a bad infection and Crystals. My vet said we had to euthanasia her for kidney failure. Instead I took her to the vet school she was treated in the hospital for a week and made a full recovery. Lived till she was 17 perfectly healthy. See she had always had high kidney values from having only one kidney.

So remember everyone is only practicing medicine, no one has perfected it yet!!!!!
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Last edited by Laurasea; 01-06-2019 at 10:32 AM.
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Old 01-06-2019, 10:20 AM
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Re: A Reason To Always Get A Second Opinion When It Comes To Birds

I'm not excusing the results from the other Avian Vets. I hear what you are saying. And it is very important to second opinion. But it is just as (more) important to document.

When working with people. I find that far too often, individuals do not always provide /remember all the information regarding their own medical experiences let alone their Parrots. Regardless of whether the visit is for a nail clip or a detailed medical examination, always get a copy of the findings (test results) and the evaluation in writing!

In addition, words like 'worst case' are commonly forgotten.
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Old 01-06-2019, 11:51 AM
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Re: A Reason To Always Get A Second Opinion When It Comes To Birds

Wow! Thank God they got a THIRD opinion! I always enjoy watching Dr. K, and tend to love her approach to veterinary medicine.

And yes, it is so very important to get at least 2nd opinions, if not 3rd, when given so severe a prognosis. I can only imagine the relief they must've felt upon hearing Dr. K's news. Amazing.
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Old 01-06-2019, 11:55 AM
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Re: A Reason To Always Get A Second Opinion When It Comes To Birds

Stories like this rattle in my brain when reading a member's discussion of a dire diagnosis. Statistically speaking, they are more likely accurate than not, but the price to be paid for taking rash and irreversible actions in error is horrific. Thanks, Ellen!
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Old 01-06-2019, 05:57 PM
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Re: A Reason To Always Get A Second Opinion When It Comes To Birds

I haven't seen that episode, I thought I finished all of them. Lol

Sometimes you can't get a second opinion, but when possible it is possibly one of the best things to do, especially when it comes to something like that.

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Old 01-07-2019, 09:57 AM
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Re: A Reason To Always Get A Second Opinion When It Comes To Birds

Quote: Originally Posted by ParrotLover2001 View Post
I haven't seen that episode, I thought I finished all of them. Lol

Sometimes you can't get a second opinion, but when possible it is possibly one of the best things to do, especially when it comes to something like that.

Sent from my Galaxy s8

I was watching both Season 1 and Season 5, so it was from one of those two Seasons. It's the only episode with a Greenwing Macaw I believe, so if you just Google "Dr. K's Exotic Animal ER with Greenwing Macaw", or "with Bubba Macaw", something like that, it will probably pop right up. Actually it's one of the episodes where there is the "regular" episode and then an "enhanced" episode too, I forget what they are called, it's an extended version of the show that contains extra footage, details, interviews, etc. about certain cases.

I also agree with Sailboat about ALWAYS getting a copy of EVERYTHING that is done at each an every Vet visit for all your pets. And this should be easier than ever now because they can simply email you the entire record, including digital copies of all lab-work, x-rays and scans, etc. So you truly can have a full medical-record for each of your pets and keep it right on your phone so you have it if you need it in a pinch. You can just whip out your phone and show an Emergency Veterinary Hospital your bird's blood-work results or their actual full CT Scan from 5 years ago...Amazing that this is possible now.

I too had the same thing happen with my Pug, I had to take him to the 24/7 Animal Hospital here on a Sunday morning when he was 11. He was fine the night before, and he woke me up after he fell off the foot of my bed (I believe he had a seizure, not certain), and when I found him on the floor at the foot of my bed he was having explosive, liquid diarrhea all over the carpeting and he couldn't stop it or control it, and he was dragging his back legs...Called my mom to come take us so i could hold him while she drove, I put him in the bathtub to wash him up and could tell immediately he had a high fever, we got him to the Hospital, and basically after about an hour and $650 later for nothing more than a physical exam, routine blood-work, and a urinalysis (that's literally all they did for $650, lol), they told me he was in kidney-failure and I needed to euthanize him immediately because he was suffering...i asked to see his blood-work and urinalysis results and they actually said no at first, "why would you want to see his lab results?"; His Renal values sucked the big one, but it was so sudden that I suspected a horrible infection, they had sent his urine culture out to a lab, I asked them to look at it under a microscope, they did, and they saw tons and tons and tons of WBC's, so he wasn't in "Kidney-Failure" due to Kidney Disease, he had a horrible Kidney Infection that he didn't tell me about, lol, and I didn't notice...So then they said "Well we need to at least admit him for 2-3 days to give him fluids and antibiotics and watch him", and I said "Yeah, I agree, but I'll do those things at home, load me up with some bags of Lactated Ringers Solution, some IV kits, and some 18g needles, and then load-up some syringes with the antibiotics pre-measured in them for me, and we'll be going...So I gave him sub-q fluids twice a day and an antibiotic injection once a day for a week, took him back to my regular Vet, and all of his values were perfectly normal and the infection was on it's way out...But the Hospital's very first answer, their very first statement to me after they got his blood-work back was "You need to euthanize him immediately because he's suffering"...He lived for another happy, healthy, full 3+ years until he was just shy of 15!
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Old 01-07-2019, 10:36 AM
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Re: A Reason To Always Get A Second Opinion When It Comes To Birds

Yeah my one snake Lily who is a decent sized reticulated python had busted up her mouth. Back then she had a tendency to poop and knock over her water bowl and then try to escape the cage. So she had cuts on her mouth that she pushed poop all throughout. I had to take her to my local vet who is a decent avian vet but I already knew not the best Reptile vet. She put her on baytril and lily had some burned spots from the first shots. I stopped and looked up baytril online with large reticulated pythons. She was lucky that some minor burns and lumps was all that happened to her. The Lacey act was in effect back then which was why I didnít take her to my regular vet. I decided to say screw the laws and took her over state lines for vet care. Such an idiotic law that made it illegal to cross state lines with a reticulated python even just for vet care. Funnily enough a humane officer was in the lobby when I came out and he asked what we had. When we told him he was like cool. He was like I donít care about the stupid law when you are coming over for vet care and I have dying animals to worry about with crappy owners. He was a nice guy and thought Lily was gorgeous even though she looked a bit beat up from trying to restrain her enough for shots haha
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Old 01-07-2019, 12:41 PM
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Re: A Reason To Always Get A Second Opinion When It Comes To Birds

Quote: Originally Posted by riddick07 View Post
Yeah my one snake Lily who is a decent sized reticulated python had busted up her mouth. Back then she had a tendency to poop and knock over her water bowl and then try to escape the cage. So she had cuts on her mouth that she pushed poop all throughout. I had to take her to my local vet who is a decent avian vet but I already knew not the best Reptile vet. She put her on baytril and lily had some burned spots from the first shots. I stopped and looked up baytril online with large reticulated pythons. She was lucky that some minor burns and lumps was all that happened to her. The Lacey act was in effect back then which was why I didnít take her to my regular vet. I decided to say screw the laws and took her over state lines for vet care. Such an idiotic law that made it illegal to cross state lines with a reticulated python even just for vet care. Funnily enough a humane officer was in the lobby when I came out and he asked what we had. When we told him he was like cool. He was like I donít care about the stupid law when you are coming over for vet care and I have dying animals to worry about with crappy owners. He was a nice guy and thought Lily was gorgeous even though she looked a bit beat up from trying to restrain her enough for shots haha

Oh trust me, I'm well aware that the only thing more difficult to find than a good, experienced Avian Vet is a good, experienced Herp Vet!!! I've never had snakes, but I had a Green Iguana from a baby to 12 years old when I had to re-home her due to going to college and my mom couldn't handle her (over 6 feet long and only liked me)...I now have a female Beardie who I got as a month-old baby when she was 5-6" long, now she's 21" long and almost 4 years old. I love her dearly and thank God she's been really very healthy; I am fortunate enough to have a Certified Herp Vet here 5 minutes away from my house, and she's really pretty good, she even knows about different husbandry for different reptiles, which is usually lacking. I usually end-up educating the Exotics Vets about temperature/humidity/substrate/diet information when it comes to the reptiles. Knock on wood Iggy Pop will stay healthy and I won't have to worry about it....
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Old 01-07-2019, 12:57 PM
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Re: A Reason To Always Get A Second Opinion When It Comes To Birds

Quote: Originally Posted by EllenD View Post
Quote: Originally Posted by riddick07 View Post
Yeah my one snake Lily who is a decent sized reticulated python had busted up her mouth. Back then she had a tendency to poop and knock over her water bowl and then try to escape the cage. So she had cuts on her mouth that she pushed poop all throughout. I had to take her to my local vet who is a decent avian vet but I already knew not the best Reptile vet. She put her on baytril and lily had some burned spots from the first shots. I stopped and looked up baytril online with large reticulated pythons. She was lucky that some minor burns and lumps was all that happened to her. The Lacey act was in effect back then which was why I didnít take her to my regular vet. I decided to say screw the laws and took her over state lines for vet care. Such an idiotic law that made it illegal to cross state lines with a reticulated python even just for vet care. Funnily enough a humane officer was in the lobby when I came out and he asked what we had. When we told him he was like cool. He was like I donít care about the stupid law when you are coming over for vet care and I have dying animals to worry about with crappy owners. He was a nice guy and thought Lily was gorgeous even though she looked a bit beat up from trying to restrain her enough for shots haha

Oh trust me, I'm well aware that the only thing more difficult to find than a good, experienced Avian Vet is a good, experienced Herp Vet!!! I've never had snakes, but I had a Green Iguana from a baby to 12 years old when I had to re-home her due to going to college and my mom couldn't handle her (over 6 feet long and only liked me)...I now have a female Beardie who I got as a month-old baby when she was 5-6" long, now she's 21" long and almost 4 years old. I love her dearly and thank God she's been really very healthy; I am fortunate enough to have a Certified Herp Vet here 5 minutes away from my house, and she's really pretty good, she even knows about different husbandry for different reptiles, which is usually lacking. I usually end-up educating the Exotics Vets about temperature/humidity/substrate/diet information when it comes to the reptiles. Knock on wood Iggy Pop will stay healthy and I won't have to worry about it....
Yeah itís really sad when I take in one of my snakes for blood work and they are all so suprised about how healthy she is. It shouldnít be something so unusual to see even at a vet. They all tell me they are used to seeing ones that can barely breath through the RIs or are so ridiculously fat or skinny itís not funny. My oldest girl is 15 and they all love seeing her when I bring her in for blood work.

Iím actually starting the process of disease testing all the boas & pythons plus fecal tests for crypto on all the reptiles. It was crazy how many exotic vets had no idea on the viruses/parasites I was asking about or wouldnít draw blood and allow me to send it to labs that could test for them. These are the ones that wipe out entire collections and they had no idea. Crazy!
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