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Meet Avian and Exotic Animal Care, 'The Vets for Unusual Pets'

Posted by Caitlin Taylor

Jul 14, 2021 8:41:04 AM


If you pay a visit to Avian and Exotic Animal Care, you never know what kind of patient you might bump into in their waiting room. Birds, reptiles, and small mammals are all frequent visitors, but the hospital also treats wildlife and zoo animal species including kangaroos, lemurs, foxes, and so many more. People travel from all over the state of North Carolina and beyond to the Raleigh-based animal hospital to seek the high-quality, specialized care they provide. We spoke with veterinarian Dr. Daniel Johnson, or "Dr. Dan" as he's known to pet owners, to learn more about AEAC and the work they do for animals of all shapes and sizes!


When Dr. Dan started Avian and Exotic Animal Care in 1996 as a house call business, it was the state's first all-exotics practice. 25 years later, AEAC has grown to a five doctor veterinary hospital with 28 total employees. Between the five veterinarians, the team has specialties in surgery, avian medicine, aquatic and amphibian medicine, acupuncture, oncology, exotic animal dentistry, and nutrition to name a few.


Avian Exotic

The five AEAC veterinarians pose with some furry, feathered, and scaly friends


In addition to the services they provide at the hospital, Avian and Exotic Animal Care is also the primary care provider for a local raptor rescue, American Wildlife Refuge. The rescue helps injured birds including eagles, hawks, owls, and more. The hospital also provides discounted services for animal shelters and avian/exotic pet rescues in their area.


Avian Exotic 4The AEAC team works to treat a bald eagle for lead toxicity


At Avian and Exotic Animal Care, education is a huge focus for the team as caring for exotic pets presents unique challenges for both pet owners and veterinary professionals. Dr. Dan explained "Avian and exotic animal practice is largely 'illness medicine.' Often we are dealing with conditions that result from months to years of inappropriate husbandry including diet, temperature, humidity, cage setup, and more. Our job is to reverse the problems and to educate the owner on proper husbandry." The staff also participates in frequent trainings to ensure they are up-to-date on the latest treatment methods for the variety of species they see.


Avian Exotic 6Dr. Sokolik leads the AEAC staff in a CPR training


Treating exotic pets means that Avian and Exotic Animal Care needs to be ready to provide emergency care at a moment's notice. "Birds and exotic pets are good at hiding signs of disease. They are 'hard-wired' as wild animals, not wanting to attract attention or show signs of weakness," Dr. Dan explained. "Therefore exotic pet owners frequently cannot tell their pet is sick until disease is advanced. As a result, pet birds and exotics often present in need of emergency support."


Avian Exotic 5

Dr. Locke assesses a bearded dragon's x-ray


Since 2003, Avian and Exotic Animal Care has used the FLAVORx for Pets program as a solution to help their many types of patients get the medicine they need. Dr. Dan told us, "One of the first concerns many owners have is 'How will I get medicine into my pet?' Most birds and small exotic pets do not take pills. Thus, the majority of our prescriptions are suspensions compounded from tablets or capsules and then flavored to suit the species." 


Medicating a pet can cause stress for their owner if they're anticipating a struggle. Dr. Johnson explained that they use FLAVORx to help alleviate this stress and make the medication process easier for both the pet and their owner, "We usually ask clients what flavor their pet might like. Thus, compliance is excellent because we give the client buy-in, and they believe they can do it."


Avian Exotic 9Vet tech Jamie prepares to give medicine to a chinchilla


Dr. Dan explained the vital difference medication compounding and flavoring can make when treating exotic pets, "In-house compounding means that veterinarians can get prescriptions into their clients' hands at the time of the appointment rather than hours or even days later. When dealing with seriously ill birds and exotics, treatment cannot wait."


Avian Exotic 7An AEAC team members prepares a medication for a patient


FLAVORx for Pets would like to give a big thank you to the team at Avian and Exotic Animal Care for all that they do for creatures of all shapes and sizes! If you're interested in being our next featured practice, please send an email to ctaylor@flavorx.com. Learn more about FLAVORx for Pets here: 

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Topics: Pets and Pet Health


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