Brainy birds need to keep minds, bodies busy to stay healthy

November 24, 2009 at 1:03 pm Leave a comment

There’s one thing Dr. Marty Becker and Gina Spadafori know for sure, and it’s this: Toys are not optional for parrots. From this week’s Pet Connection newspaper feature:

Parrots are incredibly intelligent, and for anyone who doubts this, we point to Alex, Dr. Irene Pepperberg’s well-known African Grey, who showed by matching words to objects that he and his kind are anything but “bird brains.”

And yet, we too often see these brilliant beings kept as little more than decorative objects, prized for their plumage and locked for nearly all their lives in cages that are too small no matter how large. Is it any wonder so many pet birds die young, or rip out their own feathers in frustration?

Toys are essential to maintaining the physical and mental well-being of parrots large and small. Playthings help keep pet birds fit while fighting the boredom that can contribute to behavioral problems such as feather-picking.

There are toys your bird can hold, toys that hang from the top and sides of the cage, and toys that do double duty as perches and swings. Twirlies, holdies, chewies, puzzles and noisemakers can all keep your bird occupied. Although you can buy toys by major manufacturers from the big chain stores, it’s also nice to choose from the variety of playthings lovingly made by a cottage industry of bird lovers and available from independent bird shops, through catalogs and on the Internet.

Find out what’s a good toy for your bird, and what’s not, right here.

From Dr. Becker and Mikkel Becker Shannon, the scoop on H1N1 in cats:

Since the news broke of a housecat in Iowa testing positive for the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, pet owners and veterinarians have been scrambling to learn more: Can my pet get sick? What would the symptoms of H1N1 in cats be? How is it identified? How is it treated? The American Veterinary Medical Association has put up an information page on its Web site to get the answers out. The page offers continuously updated information on the H1N1 influenza virus (also known as the “swine flu”), how the virus might affect pets, and what veterinarians should know when talking with clients and treating patients. The trade group’s response underscores the critical role veterinarians play in the public health system for pets and people alike.

Want more? Read the entire Pet Connection for this week, or download the PDF file exactly the way we send it to our client newspapers!…

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