De-stressing a trip to the vet

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by lemurchaser, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. lemurchaser

    lemurchaser Songster

    Apr 11, 2008
    Corvallis, OR
    My one chicken, Helen, has been blind since birth (well hatching really). I've been wondering what is going on with her, so I volunteered her for a vet student ophthamology lab. She needs to be there for 3 hours, and will probably get multiple exams, one by a licensed veterinary ophthamologist. For a little blind chicken, I'm guessing this will be stressful (although she really likes people, and isn't very bright). Would it be best to take a friend with her? The friend I could take would definitely be stressed by this, although she wouldn't be handled as much. Both Helen and her friend are about 6 months old. Should I take food and water for them? I doubt Helen would find the water, but she might figure out food. I'm guessing they'd be too stressed to eat. She/they would be in a large pet carrier, should I cover them to make it dark when they aren't being used, or is that too confusing for them. Do chickens tend to tolerate this better than I'm thinking?

    This will be good for Helen, especially since it is possible that there may be ways to help her. I just don't want to kill her from stress in the process.

    Thanks for any help or ideas.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2009
  2. debilorrah

    debilorrah The Great Guru of Yap Premium Member

    Since she is blind and friendly, just make sure you are near here so she can smell you and whisper to her. I don't think I would take another chicken - like you said it may really stress them out for no reason.
  3. chookchick

    chookchick Songster

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    I was going to say cover the cage, but then realized she was blind! You might cover it just in case she has some light detecting ability as it will calm her during the trip. Like Debiraymond said, your voice is probably the best thing for her. I'm sure she'll be fine. Please keep us posted on what they say!
  4. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    All the vet students I've had work with my animals were very good with them. I'd mention to them that she likes people and would probably enjoy it if they speak gently and nicely to her. Normally, they would do this automatically with any animal, especially a patient like a blind dog. Sometimes, though, people aren't really familiar with what chickens are like, especially pet chickens that are more social.

    You could put a little note on her carrier. I always have my contact info on mine. You could also tape a note on that says something like, "Hi, my name is Helen. I am a blind chicken, so please speak gently to me, before handling me. I like people and I hope you like me, too."

    Is she used to being in a pet carrier? If she isn't, I'd let her spend a little time in it, before the day she has to go in. I'd use the same substrate in the carrier and the same bowl placement as you're going to use the day of the lab. Even 10 or 15 minutes would be helpful, a couple of times.

    She'll probably do great. I hope they can help her.
  5. sred98

    sred98 Songster

    Jan 18, 2008
    That is awesome that they accepted her! I agree to tape a note to the carrier, explaining her situation. I would maybe compare her to a parrot or other large (typical) pet bird. Maybe put something on there that says, "Hi! My name is Helen. I am blind. I enjoy people talking to me, soft rubs on my earlobes, being carried around like a football, raisins, and oatmeal. I do not like being picked up without being told first, rubbing my feathers the wrong way, and loud music." Of course, these are just suggestions, but I bet if you make it a personal cute note, she will probably be lavished with extra attention. [​IMG]

    I have a feeling that being there for a few hours wouldn't be nearly as stressful as a show with a bunch of other chickens would be, you know? And please, no one take that to mean that I am against showing chickens! LOL! I just meant that a bunch of other chickens and loud noises would be a lot more stressful than being in a quiet lab for a couple of hours.

    Keep us updated!

  6. charpcharp

    charpcharp In the Brooder

    Jan 25, 2009
    Hey - firstly I LOVE that your chicken is called Helen - brilliant name [​IMG]

    secondly, I wonder if there's a chicken friendly rescue-remedy out there? I know you can get a homeopathic calmer for cats and probably most other animals.

    just a thought...! Good luck Helen!
  7. horsejody

    horsejody Squeaky Wheel

    Feb 11, 2008
    Waterloo, Nebraska
    Quote:Most birds have an extremely poor sense of smell. It would be helpful to let her hear a familiar voice though.
  8. lemurchaser

    lemurchaser Songster

    Apr 11, 2008
    Corvallis, OR
    Thanks everyone for the great suggestions. I took her in the carrier, with shavings down and covered with a towel.

    I'm a vet student too, so I stayed for the lab (it was for the class above me). They actually had the room dark, so it was really calming for a chicken. Everyone was great with her (although I got a lot of questions about how to hold her and how to restrain her). She was very calm throughout, and was held by about 15 different people. One of the things I didn't think about is that she's used to winter temps, so I think she was a little hot being inside.

    She has cataracts in both eyes, but her lens has been able to adapt to them a little. So she does have some sight (which is what I thought, because she can follow me). The vet felt it shouldn't really hinder her, but also wanted to make sure that I didn't breed her as it can be genetic.

    As soon as she got back to the coop she attacked her food and water, and went right back to her normal self.

    Here is her story:
    There is a link to her baby videos on page 2, and some pictures on page 1 and 3. She now (at 7 months) is laying green eggs and even lays them in the nest box. Other than being noisy, she is a great chicken. She lives in a small coop with 2 silkies and a younger Welsummer.
  9. sred98

    sred98 Songster

    Jan 18, 2008
    That is great! I'm glad she handled it ok! My Petunia loves attention, and enjoys "meeting new people". Sounds like Helen is like that, too. That is wonderful that she does have some vision. What exactly was the purpose of the exam? Were they just learning how to diagnose under the direction of a DVM, or is there a possibility of treatment? Is she going to have to go back?

    You know, the thing I like the most about this story is the fact that there are almost 20 future veterinarians that will ALWAYS remember "Helen the Chicken" and might actually consider treating a chicken in their practice, rather than turning away an upset chicken mom or dad. They will think of chickens in a new way, as a friendly pet that was not scared or mean, and an animal that needs a vet when they are sick, not just something to throw away when it is hurt.


    Yay Helen! Chicken Ambassador for future veterinarians! [​IMG]

  10. lemurchaser

    lemurchaser Songster

    Apr 11, 2008
    Corvallis, OR
    The purpose of the exam was for the vet students to learn how to do an eye exam and what certain abnormalities look like. We don't get a lot of ophthamology experiences, so this was good. Eyes are tough, because you have to see in through the pupil, but as soon as you do the pupil closes.

    Helen was a hit. People were taking pictures with her. I definately think it helps for students to be exposed to other animals, we just don't get a lot of bird medicine, unless we choose it in our 4th year. There is just too much to cover in school.
    HenniesInMyHeart likes this.

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