Monthly Archives July 2013

Dr. Google May Be In, But Not Everything You Read Is True

Just because it’s written doesn’t mean it’s true! That goes for what’s written on websites, on Facebook, in magazines, even in literature created by people claiming to be experts about particular subjects. This is particularly relevant when it comes to bird and exotic pet care. When cats and dogs get sick, the first place that most pet owners turn to is their trusted veterinarian. With birds and exotic pets, however, very few pet owners even think to seek out veterinary advice but instead go directly to the Internet or to the local pet store for information.

Find A Good Bird and Exotic Veterinarian

Unfortunately, they are then often given outdated or misinformation which either doesn’t help their pet or which may actually make matters worse. Ultimately, hopefully they eventually seek out care from a licensed veterinarian and veterinary technician trained to treat the species they own. That means actually bringing the pet to an animal hospital for a thorough examination, so that the bird and exotic veterinary professionals can logically determine what tests need to be performed to best diagnose the animal’s problems. It’s not any different from when a person has a medical problem; to be treated correctly, that person must be examined by a medical professional to diagnose the problem and determine a course of treatment.

Seeking Advice from Avian and Exotic Vets

Seeking out advice on-line or from a local store or breeder can be fine for simple issues, but for more serious medical problems, there is nothing like a complete, hands-on physical examination. So, while we love you to email us questions about your pet or ask advice on simple matters on Facebook or other social media sites, we would really be doing you and your pet a disservice if we tried to diagnose your animal’s condition without actually examining him or her. Of course, not everyone is close by enough to the avian and Exotic Veterinary Center to come in for a check-up, so if you are far from us, we encourage you to seek out an exotics-savvy vet in your area to help. There are several great resources on-line that will direct you to vets with training in birds and exotics. Just think, you wouldn’t rely solely on the Internet for diagnosing your own or a family member’s medical condition; why would you for your pet?

Dr. Laurie Hess, Exotic Animal Veterinarian & Bird Specialist, Advocates Medical Care For Exotic Pets

Dr. Laurie Hess, exotic animal veterinarian and one of approximately 150 board-certified bird specialists worldwide, spends nearly all of her free time advocating that exotic pets – birds, rabbits, ferrets, rodents, reptiles, amphibians, and other less common exotic species (sugar gliders, hedgehogs, pot-bellied pigs, kinkajous, and wallabies) – need regular preventative medical care, just like dogs and cats. Hess, who has been treating birds and exotic pets solely for the past 19 years, cares for these animals daily in Bedford Hills, NY, at her veterinary hospital – the Veterinary Center for Birds & Exotics – the only animal hospital in Westchester County, NY, and the surrounding counties in NY and CT that caters exclusively to exotic pets.



According to Hess, these pets are not typically brought to animal hospitals until they are sick, sometimes critically. As a result, Hess has taken on the role as an advocate for these animals, educating their owners and the public, in general, about the benefits not only to pets, but also to their owners, of regular medical check-ups for these species.


“Despite the fact that nearly 12.6 million of the 60 million pet-owning households in the U.S. own exotic pets, ” said Hess, “exotic pet owners still rarely think about bringing their animals to the vet after they purchase or adopt them.”  Hess, who has appeared as an exotic pet expert on national TV shows such as Animal Planet’s “Little Pets 101,” CBS’s “The Doctors,” the Martha Stewart Show, Inside Edition, and Fox Business News, takes any chance she can get to speak pet owners about the benefits of owning exotic pets and the proper ways to care for them. “We know so much more today than we did 20 years ago about how to keep these animals healthy, and we have such great technology available to help treat them when they are ill. If only people would bring them to veterinarians to learn how to care for them properly to prevent disease, the animals would have a better quality of life, and pet owners would save money on treatment.” In addition to spreading her message on TV, Hess appears regularly on radio stations across the U.S. and Canada, speaks internationally to both pet owners and veterinary professionals, and blogs and publishes on various exotic pet topics (see commonly asked questions & answers:  ).

After graduating summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University and receiving her doctorate from Tufts Veterinary School, Hess completed a one-year internship and two-year residency at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in NYC where she stayed on to head the Avian & Exotic Pet Service. Following years of treating exotic pets in private veterinary practice, in 2010, Dr. Hess took her message about specialty care for exotics a step further and founded the Veterinary Center for Birds & Exotics, the only American Animal Hospital Association accredited bird and exotic specialty hospital in NY and only one of 5 in the world. At the Center, Hess and her staff provide complete medical, surgical, and boarding care for these unique species, employing the same cutting edge therapies to these pets that are typically used in people, including ultrasonography, digital radiography, cold laser therapy, and endoscopy. For more information about exotic pets, to interview Dr. Hess, or to learn about the Veterinary Center for Birds & Exotics, visit and

Contact: Laurie Hess