Vet, Blood work, Xray & So many questions

rev

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Nov 17, 2020
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Hello, //



This is going to be a long wall of text but please read it if you have time. I am very stressed and confused.


So I have a cockatiel, a very small cockatiel at that. He is almost a year old and I weigh him every morning and night. In the mornings he is typically between the weight of high 74g and 75g. On 16/04/2021 he weighed 75.2g and on 19/04/2021 he weighted 71.9g. This is the lowest I have ever recorded his weight since having him from July last year. I monitored his weight and since then it has gone up slightly but sits around 72.5 and 73.5g. I made an appointment with a well reviewed vet which he has seen a roughly a year prior. I informed him of the situation and as I'm sure many of you are too he was shocked about how low his weight is compared to an average cockatiel. Non the less he took him in for an exam and said that everything seems fine. He doesn't feel underweight and has good muscle. He stated he flew around the room a few times and didn't observe any shortness of breath.


My bird has never had a blood test done. From research I have concluded that blood work is a typical thing to have done once you get your bird. My vet never brought this up until I mentioned it. When he did talk about the blood test he mentioned that they typically do the blood test along with an xray. At the time he said that they talk a faecal sample and would test that for parasites.


That result came back today and he was an all clear on the parasites. I mentioned the blood work again and yet again he brought up xrays and blood work. I asked him how often would he suggest that a bird has a blood work done. He said that it is usually a yearly thing but more often for sick and old birds. I asked what the risks associated with it are and he said death. He then began to talk about anesthesia and that this is the reason for the risk of death. I am unsure at this point if he was talking about anesthesia for xraying or blood work. I feel stupid for not asking more but when he is talking I try to listen and retain as much information as possible. He is also pretty difficult to talk to as it comes across as he is always trying to end the conversation when I am trying to ask more questions. I also find it strange that he suggests blood work once a year but after seeing my bird twice in the span of a year never brought up getting his blood work done until I did.



From my point of view it seems like he is trying to pressure me into an xray as well as blood work because everytime I mention blood an xray is brought up. There is no reasons to bring this up from my end as I have not said anything about swallowing foreign objects or anything which would warrant an xray. It seems to me like a cash grab. I asked how much the blood work would be and yet again he said. "An xray and blood work would cost around £350 - £400."



I don't know if I'm just overthinking this from stressing out but does anyone else find this behaviour and seemingly condratictory statements strange? It has made me lose confidence in him. You might suggest looking for another avian vet, I have tried. This vet is the best part of an hour away and has pretty good reviews regarding this vet in specific which leads be to believe that this is just a me thing? I just don't understand the constant mention of an xray everytime I asked about a blood test. Along with the fact that he suggests blood test to be done yearly, knows mine has never had it done and still doesn't bring it up until I do.



I would love to hear some thought and opinions as I feel like I can't think clearly from all the worry.



Thank you for reading.
 
A vet should not have to anesthetize most birds to take blood. If a bird is social etc, the stress of a blood draw should not be so serious that it requires the bird going under.


That having been said, I have had to sign disclaimers for blood work/exams etc (in general) in the event that Noodles were to stroke out or have a heart-attack due to stress. This is fairly rare, but can happen in high-strung birds.



Smaller birds have less blood to give, but they still need blood work. In a sick bird, it will be more frequent. I have heard that the minimum for blood should be at least every 3, but many do it yearly (that was what my old vet suggested).


Some birds can't do xrays without going under-- mine warned me of that too, but I said if Noodles needed it, to bring her back to me and let me make that choice (don't just do it).



Blood and xrays (depending on the type) can easily cost that much. It depends on where you are, but compared to my US cost (when you look at currency exchange values) that seems about right. Exam is 50, x ray without anesthesia is somewhere between 100-150, blood is around 100-300 depending on what I test.



You should generally have an xray and blood-work for a baseline. His suggestions aren't out of alignment with "best practices"


Vets often tend to be overly conservative when it comes to testing (is the owner doesn't ask). I am not sure why, but I imagine it comes down to keeping people happy and saving time (lots of people know very little about parrots and I suppose there is an element of, "if it aint broke, don't fix it.") The issue is, it can be "broke" without seeming broken. There is some risk to any procedure, but not generally when done properly with a well-socialized parrot. It will still stress them out though.


Xrays could show organ inflammation and any blockages. PDD can sometimes show through an xray, as can certain growths etc.


I have found that my vet resists testing unless I mention it (barring extreme circumstances) ..They do tend to avoid invasive measures...BUT, I will say that in times when I have insisted on testing, I have often been right. I am not telling you what to do...I do think all birds should have blood and an xray- even if not every year. Granted, if you have to put them under, that does change things,as that is a major risk.


I would suggest you find the best-reviewed avian vet in your area and go off of that (even if it means driving an hour or 2).
 
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it may be that your bird is stunted. That can be from a number of things, genetics just made that way, genetics from possible inbreeding , or stunted from issues during hand raising, possibly has an infection while young, fed improperly, force weaned, or from organ defects...

Smaller birds, vets are careful and some decide not to if seem healthy. Blood draw should be able to be done without anesthesia.

I think its very reasonable to want blood work on your burd. If the feels x ray plus blood work then would do anesthesia. Anesthesia is risky in burds . A good avain veterinarian can reduce that risk greatly by bring knowledgeable and monitoring closely. I would only do anesthesia if I trusted my veterinarian completely .

Fecal culture and gram stain have a huge value, more so than checking fir parasites. So it raises a big red flag to me that he didn't do culture, or gram stain.

Chronic poor doing burds can suffer from mega bacteria , or yeast overgrowth, which a gram stain would catch. Super easy and cheap to do. You just need a slide, the stain, abd a microscope. Culture are sent out to labs and not to expensive.

For that reason alone, not doing a gram stain, I myself would find a new vet.
Then add in that they aren't checking blood when I ask , I would get a new vet. And 3rd if they made me feel uncomfortable in asking questions, or were obnoxious about answering questions, I would seek a new vet. Because I would not feel safe.

I myself went to a certified avain vet specialist with years if experience. My bird had sn easy to diagnose and treat yeast overgrowth. It was very obvious she wanted to run up the bill or pad the bill. We could both smell thst bird smelled like yeast, she agreed my burd smelled like yeast.. Anyway I spent a ton of money, she did not prescribed the cheap medicine thst treats yeast. She wanted me to dov$ 1000 more in tests!@@
I went to a different vet git the $10 buck medicine cured my burd. Also fed yogurt with Acidophilus abd lactobacilli as live culture.

Anyway, I'm trying to say sometimes, the vest mist expensive vet isn't really the best vet. Trust your instinct!!!

I'm sorry you are going through this!@ you ate trying to do the right thing!

I'm a big believer in yogurt. Greek yogurt no artificial sweetners, with live cultures listing Acidophilus, and Lactobacillus. 1/2 teaspoon
twice to 3 times a week when issues, once a week otherwise. is not going to hurt your birds. It may help your bird if a yeast or imbalance is going on. Its even in my sick bird link which I will link for you..

I dont like 5hst your bird has trouble maintaining weight. It could be a virus, it coukd be a heart, liver, or chronic kidney infection. Or something else....
 
it may be that your bird is stunted. That can be from a number of things, genetics just made that way, genetics from possible inbreeding , or stunted from issues during hand raising, possibly has an infection while young, fed improperly, force weaned, or from organ defects...

Smaller birds, vets are careful and some decide not to if seem healthy. Blood draw should be able to be done without anesthesia.

I think its very reasonable to want blood work on your burd. If the feels x ray plus blood work then would do anesthesia. Anesthesia is risky in burds . A good avain veterinarian can reduce that risk greatly by bring knowledgeable and monitoring closely. I would only do anesthesia if I trusted my veterinarian completely .

Fecal culture and gram stain have a huge value, more so than checking fir parasites. So it raises a big red flag to me that he didn't do culture, or gram stain.

Chronic poor doing burds can suffer from mega bacteria , or yeast overgrowth, which a gram stain would catch. Super easy and cheap to do. You just need a slide, the stain, abd a microscope. Culture are sent out to labs and not to expensive.

For that reason alone, not doing a gram stain, I myself would find a new vet.
Then add in that they aren't checking blood when I ask , I would get a new vet. And 3rd if they made me feel uncomfortable in asking questions, or were obnoxious about answering questions, I would seek a new vet. Because I would not feel safe.

I myself went to a certified avain vet specialist with years if experience. My bird had sn easy to diagnose and treat yeast overgrowth. It was very obvious she wanted to run up the bill or pad the bill. We could both smell thst bird smelled like yeast, she agreed my burd smelled like yeast.. Anyway I spent a ton of money, she did not prescribed the cheap medicine thst treats yeast. She wanted me to dov$ 1000 more in tests!@@
I went to a different vet git the $10 buck medicine cured my burd. Also fed yogurt with Acidophilus abd lactobacilli as live culture.

Anyway, I'm trying to say sometimes, the vest mist expensive vet isn't really the best vet. Trust your instinct!!!

I'm sorry you are going through this!@ you ate trying to do the right thing!

I'm a big believer in yogurt. Greek yogurt no artificial sweetners, with live cultures listing Acidophilus, and Lactobacillus. 1/2 teaspoon
twice to 3 times a week when issues, once a week otherwise. is not going to hurt your birds. It may help your bird if a yeast or imbalance is going on. Its even in my sick bird link which I will link for you..

I dont like 5hst your bird has trouble maintaining weight. It could be a virus, it coukd be a heart, liver, or chronic kidney infection. Or something else....




But the trouble maintaining weight is likely why the vet wants to do an xray- to see if the proventriculus is enlarged or is there is a blockage. Blood work is also essential-- at the very least, a CBC, although further viral testing can be conducted and should be as needed. A gram stain is common, but it just depends on what the concerns are. If GI symptoms aren't primary (no weird poops, sneezing etc) then a vet may not assume bacterial infection of the digestive tract-- a bird with an infection of another part of the body will not show up in a gram-stain...Nor will liver failure, PDD etc.
 
I'm not saying an x-ray isn't needed. I definitely think blood work is needed.
But a gram stain is a basic must for birds in my opinion, plus many viruses and bacteria can be culture or tested from poop too.

My sick bird link
https://www.littlecrittersvet.com/sick-birds.pml

Link on AGY, chronic weight-loss is most common symptom from people who have had their burds diagnosed with this. Like any disease you fo not have to have all the symptoms. I also agree with Noodles that PDD virus is aldo possible.

" What are Megabacteriosis?
This common disease in your bird only lives in the gastrointestinal tract, and can be subclinical which means it can be present but in low levels and with no visible symptoms. Birds without symptoms may be responsible as carriers, spreading the disease. The organism is an extremely large gram positive rod shape. Megabacteria or Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY) can, in large numbers, cause severe disease to numerous bird species. Budgies are the most often affected, but it has also been found in parrotlets, lovebirds, king parrots, lorikeets, cockatiels, macaws, finches, cockatoos, ringneck parakeets, canaries and quail.

Once thought to be a mega-sized bacteria, it was later found to be of fungal origin. It has now been renamed as Avian Gastric Yeast.

Symptoms of Megabacteriosis in Birds
Your bird may become unable to maintain its blood pressure and their feet become pale and cold to the touch due to internal ulceration
Sometimes an affected bird will look as though it is eating, but is actually just grinding the seed in its beak without ingesting it
Vomiting or regurgitation is common in affected flocks of budgies
Death after long term weight loss if your bird is untreated
Your bird may become quiet and fluffed (depressed)
Bulky dark feces
Chronic weight loss
Diarrhea "
https://wagwalking.com/bird/condition/megabacteriosis
 
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I believe that the Avian Medical Professionals in the British Islands is more commonly Exotic Vets.

Each Vet Clinic has different requirements when it comes to testing. As a whole, the Clinic's Insurance Companies are demanding that those they cover are required to anesthetize the client's 'pet' anytime blood tests and/or X-rays are required. As a result, ever more clinics are grouping tests. In your case, blood tests require anesthetizing the Parrot, so have an X-ray at the same time as to reduce the likelihood of having to re-anesthetize the Parrot.

Historically, A blood test and gram stain occurred first and if there was 'seen' reason, then an X-ray. But things continue to change.

How often: IMHO that depends heavily on the overall health of the Parrot. I'm in the small camp of once every 15 months (or every 5 quarters) of a year. Why? Because it forces the testing to occur once in every quarter of the year as there maybe natural seasonal functions. A Parrot who's health is problematic I change to once every 9 months (or every 3 quarters) of the year.

Why your Tiel is underweight is an open question. One of the serious problems with questionable breeders is the danger of inbred, which commonly is seen is ever smaller birds. The average Tiel today is about 1/3 smaller than their Nominate (species standard) It sounds like your Tiel is there again as small.

Weights are important and Thank You for keeping a close eye on your Tiel weight. That said, the best weight is first thing in the morning after the first poop and prior to the first meal. Any other weight during the day will naturally vary depending on when your Parrot last poop and/or eat.

There can be seasonal variations in weight as Parrots natural add feathers during the colder time of the year and loose feathers during warmer weather.
 
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Common diseases
https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/common-conditions-of-birds
Except on cockatiels:
" Cockatiels
Cockatiels, like budgies, are commonly afflicted with respiratory disease caused by the bacteria, Chlamydophila psittaci. Like budgies, cockatiels can carry this organism without any signs, shedding it in their stool and respiratory tract secretions to other birds, or they may develop respiratory signs, weakness, and enlarged livers.
Another organism that commonly affects cockatiels is the internal parasite, Giardia. Birds infected with Giardia may have diarrhea and be very itchy, violently attacking themselves, especially under the wings.
Another disease more commonly seen in cockatiels is gastrointestinal yeast infection with Candida organisms. Birds with yeast often regurgitate, lose weight, and have diarrhea and decreased appetite.
Birds on all-seed diets often become obese and develop fatty liver disease (hepatic lipidosis) which can lead to death.
Reproductive problems are even more common in cockatiels than in budgies, even in individually housed pets, and include egg binding, soft-shelled to shell-less eggs, oviduct prolapse, and reproductive tumors.":
 
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Thank you all for your replies.



Each Vet Clinic has different requirements when it comes to testing. As a whole, the Clinic's Insurance Companies are demanding that those they cover are required to anesthetize the client's 'pet' anytime blood tests and/or X-rays are required. As a result, ever more clinics are grouping tests. In your case, blood tests require anesthetizing the Parrot, so have an X-ray at the same time as to reduce the likelihood of having to re-anesthetize the Parrot.


If this is true then this makes more sense. I'm conflicted when it comes to looking for a new vet because my current one has many great reviews albeit the negative ones are due to his personality. Yes it is not the best but I can live with him not having the best personality as long as he is good at what he does.



Weights are important and Thank You for keeping a close eye on your Tiel weight. That said, the best weight is first thing in the morning after the first poop and prior to the first meal. Any other weight during the day will naturally vary depending on when your Parrot last poop and/or eat.


Regarding the weight, before this happened I would weigh him at around 1pm and 9pm. Since his lower weight I began to weigh him first thing in the morning after he has poo'd and I have continued to do so every day. Since then he has been more or less maintaining his weight along with putting more on. He has dipped a bit in the past 2 days but I am not surprised he was lower this morning as he ate less due to being out for like 4 hours for transit and time at the vet.


I don't think I am helping myself when it does come to asking questions because as stated before I am trying to taken in everything that is being said and I'm pretty overwhelmed and emotional over this entire situation. My vet advised me that if I am still not happy then I can book him in for some tests but he advised me to keep an eye on his weight in the meantime.


I think the biggest issue for me was the constant xray & blood work being brought up together but as said before if what SailBoat said is true then this explains it a bit. I have emailed the surgery asking for all their Avian treatments and their corresponding prices so hopefully that will answer whether or not he can get a blood test without an xray or not.



To add a bit more detail when I first got my bird he weighed around 84g over the next couple of months he went down to around 80g. As time went on he got lower until he seemed to settle at 75-76 in the AM. Could this have been to a change in diet? When I got him he was mainly on a seed diet. with 1/4 pellets if I remember correctly. Where as now he is on a full Harrisons High Potency diet along with veg in the mornings and evenings.



Yet again thank you for the replies.
 
Clarity: I'm not inclined to just make things up. My choice is to not have my Amazon anesthetized. My Certified Avian Vet (CAV) has told me that she has switched corporate insurance companies to avoid such practice, but the direction is clear.
 
going from 84 to 72 is very worrisome. Over 14% loss of body mass

That kind if loss definitely would have me making changes to diet. And getting answers from the vet.
My CAV is of the sickies get to eat what ever they will eat, within reason, to get their weight back up.

It could be she is not eating the pellets well enough. I think I advised before to add back 10% seeds. Harrison is a great pellet, but it has a lot of soy. Some parrots are more sensitive to soy, and do poorly, sort of like gluten for people.

This are just thoughts. I do have some science stuff both on soy, and that some seeds are beneficial in the diet. If I remember correctly cockatiels and budgies are more if a grass seed eaters than other species of parrot.

My reasoning, is start with the basics and most common things first and work your way up to the more rare and scary.

You changed diet, bird lost weight. For me I start there. But because you are now at over 14% , getting blood work and fecal gram stain and culture, and a swab of mouth and cytology and grain stain, and culture is a very good idea. Because the next most common thing is yeast overgrowth, or bacterial overgrowth,infection, AGY , chronic zinc toxicity , much less common are the virus
 
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Clarity: I'm not inclined to just make things up. My choice is to not have my Amazon anesthetized. My Certified Avian Vet (CAV) has told me that she has switched corporate insurance companies to avoid such practice, but the direction is clear.


My apologies, I didn't mean that.
 
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going from 84 to 72 is very worrisome. Over 14% loss of body mass

That kind if loss definitely would have me making changes to diet. And getting answers from the vet.
My CAV is of the sickies get to eat what ever they will eat, within reason, to get their weight back up.

It could be she is not eating the pellets well enough. I think I advised before to add back 10% seeds. Harrison is a great pellet, but it has a lot of soy. Some parrots are more sensitive to soy, and do poorly, sort of like gluten for people.

This are just thoughts. I do have some science stuff both on soy, and that some seeds are beneficial in the diet. If I remember correctly cockatiels and budgies are more if a grass seed eaters than other species of parrot.

My reasoning, is start with the basics and most common things first and work your way up to the more rare and scary.

You changed diet, bird lost weight. For me I start there. But because you are now at over 14% , getting blood work and fecal gram stain and culture, and a swab of mouth and cytology and grain stain, and culture is a very good idea. Because the next most common thing is yeast overgrowth, or bacterial overgrowth,infection, AGY , chronic zinc toxicity , much less common are the virus


Thank you for the suggestions.



To clear a few things up when i first got my bird I was not weighing them morning and night every day. I would do it once a week and varying times, I know this wasn't the best but nothing I can do about that now. But the following is the data I have.


20/08/2020 = 84g
06/09/2020 = 85g
13/09/2020 = ~80g
20/09/2020 = 77g
27/09/2020 = 74g
04/10/2020 = ~77g
11/10/2020 = 80g
18/10/2020 = 79-80g
25/10/2020 = 75g
01/11/2020 = 77g
08/11/2020 = 76g
16/11/2020 = 76g
22/11/2020 = 75g
29/11/2020 = 76g
06/12/2020 = 75.7g, 75.6g, 77g
13/12/2020 = 76.4g


After this date I begun weighing him in the morning and evening. Although I wasn't weighing him first thing after his first poop so bear that in mind. But pretty much every weight from then on is between 75 and 76g. There are some exceptions where he was above and some where he was low. But he would level back out to 75g - 76g within a day or two. It was on 19/04/2021 where is he was 71.9g it was at this point I started weighing him first thing in the morning after his first poo. Since then his highest weight has first thing in the morning has been 73.4g on 27/04/2021.



I have been trying to give him some sunflower seeds to see if that helps but he doesn't seem to like them too much so I break them up and mix it in with his pellets. Pellet wise he eats around 2 tsps per day.
 
Have you tried healthier seeds, like safflower etc? Sometimes they actually prefer them, but it's hard to know.
 
Millit spray is a treat snd spend time getting the little seeds.

Really for our little birds there isn't much difference in weight no matter what time you weigh them..yes first thing in morning is best.

My GCC weighs 80 grams no matter whst time of day I weigh her. Bigger burds csn have a few gram fluctuations it doesn't even = 3% of their body mass. While a gram ir 2 fir a bird 100 grams or less is a big deal

What is very important is the trend. You have a clear weight loss trend.
 
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I would like to hear your guys' opinion of my plan of action

I have emailed my vet and asked for a lost of their avian treatments. I will then research this and hopefully some of you can provide input as to the test I should get done. Off the top of my head I am going to get and xray and blood work done. Once I know everything I want doing I will call and ask my vet to walk me through exactly what will happen during the procedures.

I need to get to the bottom of what could or could not be wrong with my precious boy. I feel selfish in saying it, but I can't live like this. I am so stressed out and I cant sleep at night. I need to know if hes ok and if not what I can do to fix that. I am scared about the risks involved with anesthesia but I would rather take that small risk now whilst he is eating well and being his normal cheeky self than wait and potentially have it done when he is not. I know I won't be able to find out 100% if hes ok or not but I have to do everything within my power for both of us.

Thank you everyone for the help thus far.
 
You have to start somewhere and I know it is super stressful...Noodles came to me with a liver issue and I knew something was up, but vets would look at her, feel her, weigh her and say she was fine. I insisted on blood and I am very glad I did. I'd start with a cbc (depending on age/weight--assuming your vet can do this safely), gram stain, crop culture/swab and possibly an x ray (if those don't explain it). Then, if you still don't know, I'd look at vitamin panels and testing for specific viruses (pdd, abv, pbfd etc). I'm assuming your bird has already been tested for chlamydia. Scoping is another (more invasive step if nothing else works ).


You aren't selfish-- you care about your baby and every parrot person should be as concerned as you are. It matters and you are wise to stay on it.
 
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start with fecal gram stain, mouth swab gram stain abd blood work. Then if problems not found move into x ray. X ray would not be my highest priority, its for when other tests don't give answers.

I'm strongly for a new veterinarian

You already saw the old one twice! And he was less than helpful
 
start with fecal gram stain, mouth swab gram stain abd blood work. Then if problems not found move into x ray. X ray would not be my highest priority, its for when other tests don't give answers.

I'm strongly for a new veterinarian

You already saw the old one twice! And he was less than helpful


he/she may believe he/she knows what is wrong but be a terrible communicator. Some doctors have terrible "bedside" manner and may not be used to patients wanting to know..Many people just do not ask questions (and I AM NOTTTTT one of them, but I find that it often annoys people who are used to just making suggestions and having people follow them). He/she may be clueless, but he may also just be a bit egocentric and bad at communicating (as he may not be used to it). I'd see what he/she says when asked specifics and then decide to leave if there is no solid reason provided.


If you are not assertive or don't ask, many vets will not volunteer extra information, as they are crunched for time and many people honestly just don't want to hear the reasons (or just get freaked out, hysterical or angry when they hear them)...Lots of people are like, "fix my bird" BAM. They sometimes get annoyed if you try to explain.
 
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He did not do a fecal gram stain , twice she asked for blood work. Seems to disregard a 14%!!!!!!! Weight loss
This vet sucks, lol, that's my answer and I'm sticking to it
 
He did not do a fecal gram stain , twice she asked for blood work. Seems to disregard a 14%!!!!!!! Weight loss
This vet sucks, lol, that's my answer and I'm sticking to it


true-- I just don't know how much was communicated--- we tend to talk a lot and vent on here, but I think people's communication is often much worse until after they have had the chance to process. He's probably a jerk, but I just am trying to deduce what was actually discussed in-person. If there are flags that he is seeing that point him in a certain direction, he may not say that unless asked. I do think he is probably not the best, but I wonder. I know a lot of vets won't do blood on young babies, so that is why I do take pause, but Laura is probably right-- either way, you want someone who will answer questions (as long as you are asking). I just would be hesitant to leave a true CAV, as they are rare. I work with a lot of kids on the spectrum and I wonder if this is one of those situations (where he just doesn't get it socially but has reasons) or if it is him just being inept.


You have every right to be very concerned about your baby and you need a vet who will support you in finding answers, but my thing is, he may think he HAS those answers --have you asked for explanation?
 
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