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Avian Practice
Management of respiratory disease in psittacine birds
  1. Martin Lawton

    Martin Lawton graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 1982. He is an RCVS Specialist in Exotic Animal Medicine and a partner in a small and exotic animal practice in Romford, Essex, which caters for both first and second opinion cases. He holds RCVS certificates in veterinary ophthalmology and in laboratory animal science and, in 1990, was awarded fellowship of the RCVS by examination in reptile medicine. He is currently president of the British Veterinary Zoological Society.


RESPIRATORY disease, the most common presenting clinical condition in parrots (Psittaciformes), has a variety of possible causes including infectious, non-infectious, systemic, metabolic and nutritional problems, all of which may be exacerbated by incorrect environmental temperature and humidity. Due to the unique and complex respiratory system of birds, avian respiratory diseases are often more serious than those affecting mammals; the high basic metabolic rate of birds and their increased requirement for oxygen, especially when flying, mean that any interference with normal respiratory processes will result in debilitation and may even be fatal. Essential to the investigation of respiratory conditions is a basic understanding of avian anatomy. As discussed in this article, anatomical features have an important bearing on the clinical examination, as well as on the pathogenesis and treatment of repiratory disease in these patients.

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