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Crossbeak/scissorbeak


neoow
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Sorry in advance for the length of this post!

So, Alfie's beak grows out wonky. The lower half always seems to grow out quicker than Alfie can maintain it, and it starts to curve out to one side when it gets too long.
With covid and lockdowns it grew out quite long over the last year or so and whilst Alfie can still eat, drink, climb, chew, shred, bite etc etc it was getting out of hand and needed to be seen to. 

Unfortunately, his normal vet decided to retire in February this year- how dare he. This was unfortunately because he was a really great vet and I'd been taking Alfie to see him for years. He handled Alfie really well, didn't use gas on him and Alfie always seemed pretty calm once he was returned to me. A little pink in the face where he'd gotten angry, sure, but he was always fine afterwards and calmed down (and returned to his usual colour) quickly enough. And the vet always did a really good job on his beak too. Oh, and there was the added bonus that the price was always really reasonable (around £25). So, yeah... How dare he retire!

I now had the fun job of finding a new vet. And there aren't many avian vets in my area. I asked for recommendations on an african grey facebook group and got pointed in the direction of an avian vet who was about an hour away. So I contacted them and got an appointment booked. It was £125 just for them to see him and file his beak back. I thought it was a bit steep but they said it was because they've never seen him before, they'd like to check him over etc etc... the next appointment would be cheaper. I understood that and figured I didn't have many other options as all other vets in the area either weren't taking on new animals or were a LOT further away. Plus this one had come recommended by a few people. The biggest problem I had though was the fact they insisted on using gas to file his beak. I know Alfie is super boisterous and is a handful when being towelled/handled. But they didn't know that. They just said straight out that he will be gassed to avoid any possible injuries (e.g if he sticks his tongue in the way). I wasn't happy with it but I didn't have a whole lot of options. So I booked an appointment, talked it through with the vet when I got there- & they still insisted on gas. He was ok when they brought him back to me... but they hadn't take much off his beak. So within two months it was back to where it was and I had to take him back again... to be gassed again just to have his beak filed.
It was a different vet this time but she seemed to know her stuff. I again explained that I don't like having him gassed, she insisted it's for his safety and they use a different gas these days which is kinder to them etc etc. So off he went... and when he came back they hadn't taken much off at all again. And I was £111 lighter for it.

Now- money isn't a major problem but I can't justify it if they don't do a good job and I have to keep taking him back there every couple of months because they're taking so little off that it keeps growing back quickly and it doesn't do anything to correct the problem. I know there's a risk of making him bleed if they go back too far but I know they can go further than what they did on both occasions.

Whilst I was there second time though, there were two ladies from a parrot rescue organisation. They had rushed there with a VERY poorly african grey who had been surrendered to them that morning. Unfortunately the poor little guy didn't make it as he had been so severely neglected. They came over when they saw Alfie being brought back out to me and said hello. They were lovely and we had a long conversation about their work/organisation, the poor bird they had just lost and Alfie. Then they said that they have all the kit (dremmel with all the attachments) to manage beaks and claws and offered to help me out by visiting Alfie and filing it back some more. They said they'd happily do it in return for a small donation to their organisation.

They visited on Saturday and got set up. They use thick welders gloves to hold the birds. Unfortunately Alfie wasn't willing to come out of his cage on his own whilst strangers were in the house so one of them reached in to pick him up. He managed to get past her and out of the cage and gave us the fly around for a bit until one of the ladies managed to scoop him up. He obviously wasn't happy about being scooped up by strangers in gloves so screamed a fair bit and did his best to gnaw their fingers off. The second lady held him (also with gloves on) but she commented that this was the first grey she had held- she was more used to macaws. The first lady who seemed more knowledgeable was the one using the dremmel. I think the second lady wasn't holding/supporting Alfie's head well enough as he was able to move/rotate a fair bit (and was out for blood by that point). So although they took a fair bit back on his beak, he now has some red marks left on his face and either side of his beak looks a bit worn/sore too. It was difficult to notice this straight away as his face was flushed pink with rage. I didn't quite pick up on the fact he was bruised/scraped until the next day. Part way through the first lady with the dremmel asked me to grab a glove and support his head a bit as he kept wriggling- so I can only assume he must have been rubbing his face against the gloves whilst wriggling around. Once I put the glove on and got my hand near him he just grabbed a finger and was mostly still because he couldn't see a way to get out of it at that point. I was watching the whole time and I didn't spot the dremmel slipping or getting anywhere near his face (other than his beak) - and I think if she had caught him on the skin with it then he would have bled anyway.

I now feel like the worst bird owner ever. Alfie is fine- he's eating, drinking, climbing and making as much noise and mess as he usually makes. And he doesn't seem to be overly angry at me either- he's happy to step up and follow me around as usual. I can give him head scritches in the morning and at night as usual. Plus we've done some training over the last few days too and he hasn't once tried to bite or lash out at me. His face is healing ok- it still looks a bit sore but it is getting better. I just feel terrible because he obviously got quite stressed throughout the whole thing and has some sore looking marks on his face. The ladies said they were happy to come back again either later this week or next week as it still needs some more work to straighten it out. I know this will be good for him in the long run as hopefully once it's short enough and straightened out he will be able to manage it himself and it'll be a while before he has to have it filed back again. I'm trying to plan out the best way to minimise the stress for him and to try and avoid him flying around in a panic when they turn up. I'm thinking that I may pop him in his travel cage before they get there, as it will be easier to wrap him up in a towel if he's in a smaller space where he can't fly or run away. Also, if I get him in a towel then it's going to be softer than gloves so he's less likely to scrape himself on a towel. And I'm thinking that I should hold him next time - or at least support his head like I ended up having to do halfway through so he doesn't have the option of wriggling so much.

I don't want to keep taking him back to the vet to be gassed. Although that obviously means he won't be trying to get away/wriggle- I'm scared of what the gas is going to do to him if he keeps having to have it done regularly. I'm still looking around for alternate vets but most aren't even responding to my queries at the moment. Or they are a lot further away- which is problematic if I need an emergency appointment for any reason. I'm waiting to hear back from the two ladies to see when they are next in the area- but I'm probably going to suggest that I let him heal up properly first before trying again. And like I said above, I'll try and put a plan in place to minimise the stress/wriggling as much as possible. It's fair to say that Alfie isn't a pushover- he'll go down fighting, for sure.

So sorry for the essay and thank you for reading all this, if you managed to get through it all. I just needed to explain the situation to like minded people as I don't know anyone who has/understands parrots!

Photos to show the issue:
These first three are from June- before the first visit to the new vet. You can see it curves round and you can also see it poking up from the other side.

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This was after the two ladies visited on Saturday and filed his beak back- they are all from the day after- the first batch in the evening and the last two show how sore he looked the morning after. :( (although Alfie didn't seem that bothered by it). Like I say, the redness is easing up slowly, but I was really concerned by it.

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That sounds so stressful for both you and Alfie.

With such a severe  malocclusion, he'll likely need his beak dremmelled in stages in order to redirect its growth. I also think that they should have shaved the beak closest to midline rather than the outside in order to train it to grow midline. The way it is now will encourage more lateral growth. I had this happen to one of my conures and it eventually corrected with staged dremmel sessions.

Have you had a blood panel done to ascertain if he has anything going on with his liver? I've read that there can be a correlation between the two.

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Yeah it's not been a fun time for either of us- although Alfie seems to be coping much better than I am! 😂

The two ladies that came out said they were happy to visit multiple times and take a bit of each time until it's straightened out - they said the same thing about taking some from the middle next time, instead of working it from the outside as has happened so far. They do seem very knowledgeable as I'm sure they would have seen this many a time with their rescue birds. And I'm very grateful that they were willing to step in and help out as I'm not confident I'd ever get anywhere with the vet at the rate they were going. However if Alfie ends up looking quite so sore next time then I may have to rethink that option too.

I did query whether there were any potential issues causing it with the vet when I went the second time- it seemed to grow out SO quick within the two months between visits (although it might just be because they didn't take much off, thinking about it). I even asked about possible liver issues as I knew that could be a cause so they said they'd check him out- but when they brought him back it turns out all they'd done was listen to his heart and felt for any lumps and bumps- they didn't take any blood. So there could be an underlying issue that I'm not aware of.

I'm still searching for alternate avian vets in the area as this new one really isn't filling me with confidence. I have no issues paying for vet fees but I really do feel like they are laughing all the way to the bank whilst not actually listening to me or doing a good enough job.

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Our Jardines has to have his beak dremeled or it will grow out like that.  I have my dremel setup in a bench vise so it is completely stable.  Then I work the beak around the dremel not the dremel around an angry beak that's going to move.  I also use a wooden dowel in the mouth to prevent the tongue from ever making contact with the bit.  That also serves to hold the beak open so I can get in there and take beak off.    The hardest part for us is catching and turning Rio into a birdy burrito.   He knows what's coming and does everything in his power NOT to get turned into a birdy burrito.

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I sure feel for you. My avian vet is two hours away, not a fun trip for me or Timber. How inconsiderate of your vet to retire! I know, I know... I was wondering though, is there anyway you could contact the old vet and ask for a recommendation?  Probably a long shot but one that crossed my mind. Meanwhile, I'd be looking for avians even if they are further away. It's disturbing to me that they didn't due a blood draw on his first visit as a "new" patient with him. I thought that would be standard operating practice and would have alleviated any liver concerns?

I'd definitely hold Alfie myself if you have the rescue ladies come back. I have to take Timber for nail trims to a vet who "sees birds" in between trips to the avian vet. I'm satisfied with the vet who does the trimming, but I'm a lot less anxious if I hold him rather than the often inexperienced techs who would hold him there otherwise. At the avian vet, that isn't a concern because they are all trained for birds.

Good luck!

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4 hours ago, SRSeedBurners said:

Our Jardines has to have his beak dremeled or it will grow out like that.  I have my dremel setup in a bench vise so it is completely stable.  Then I work the beak around the dremel not the dremel around an angry beak that's going to move.  I also use a wooden dowel in the mouth to prevent the tongue from ever making contact with the bit.  That also serves to hold the beak open so I can get in there and take beak off.    The hardest part for us is catching and turning Rio into a birdy burrito.   He knows what's coming and does everything in his power NOT to get turned into a birdy burrito.

Sounds like a neat setup for your Jardines. I'm not sure I'm handy enough to put something like that together.

Alfie has the same thoughts about being wrapped up or manhandled. And he's devious too- knows exactly where to go so I can't reach him. He doesn't give up once he's wrapped up or being held either.

1 hour ago, Timbersmom said:

I sure feel for you. My avian vet is two hours away, not a fun trip for me or Timber. How inconsiderate of your vet to retire! I know, I know... I was wondering though, is there anyway you could contact the old vet and ask for a recommendation?  Probably a long shot but one that crossed my mind. Meanwhile, I'd be looking for avians even if they are further away. It's disturbing to me that they didn't due a blood draw on his first visit as a "new" patient with him. I thought that would be standard operating practice and would have alleviated any liver concerns?

I'd definitely hold Alfie myself if you have the rescue ladies come back. I have to take Timber for nail trims to a vet who "sees birds" in between trips to the avian vet. I'm satisfied with the vet who does the trimming, but I'm a lot less anxious if I hold him rather than the often inexperienced techs who would hold him there otherwise. At the avian vet, that isn't a concern because they are all trained for birds.

Good luck!

I haven't asked the old vets specifically but that's a good idea, I'm sure they must have been asked several times by now! I have a list of avian vets or vets that mention 'exotics'/birds on their websites and I'm slowly working down the list. Some have out of date information and no longer have an avian vet there, others aren't taking on new animals at the moment (probably due to how many people got pets during lockdown). Some just don't respond or get back to me. I'm getting towards the vets which are further away so I'll have to start contacting them. I know 2 hours isn't a massive problem for a routine trip- it just worries me in case I have an emergency.

The one I took him to came highly recommended by a few different sources. They said they were going to a health check for his first appointment and I assumed that it would include blood work as well, but I think they just weighed him, looked at him and listened to his heart and that was it. 

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12 hours ago, Greytness said:

You might want to look into adding some milk thistle to Alfie's diet. It supports healthy liver functioning and is perfectly safe to use.

OK thanks- I'll have a look and see if I can find some. I had a quick search but it's coming up in tablet or liquid form. Do you use it? What form does it come in?

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On 8/26/2021 at 10:21 PM, Greytness said:

As a liquid. The one I used when my conure had his malocclusion is 'Milk Thistle/dandelion liver detox for birds'. It's manufactured by Morning Bird in California.

Ok thanks, I'll have a look. Haven't found much on the bird sites I usually use. I might have to see if I can get some shipped over the pond maybe.

 

5 hours ago, Luvparrots said:

Kisses to Alfie.  i hope is well for him now.

Thank you, he's doing just fine. His face is healing up nicely and doesn't seem to have bothered him.

The two ladies who came out to do his beak last time have been in touch and are going to come back maybe this week to have another session. I think I'm going to put Alfie in his travel cage before they get there so I can bundle him up in a towel without him flying around the place and getting so worked up before hand this time. I have no doubt that he'll still wriggle and put up a fight but I think I'll hold him this time to try and make sure he can't move his head about quite as much. Hopefully he'll end up looking less battered and bruised this time round if I can help keep his head still. 😔 

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