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b. The lack of body fat makes:
1. Body heat retention difficult, contributing to hypo- thermia
2. Coelomic radiography difficult to interpret due to the loss of contrast.
c. Immature physiology:
1. The ability to invoke compensatory physiologic responses (e.g. vasoconstriction and vasodilation) is limited
2. Lack of white fat (for insulation) makes them reliant on brown fat (to a small extent) and metabolism to maintain their body temperature. This requires the frequent ingestion of a high energy, easily digested food
3. The kidneys have poorly developed concentration and filtering capacity
4. The digestive tract has a rapid transit time and is easily ‘stressed’, leading to ileus
5. The respiratory tract is immature, and the air sacs are compressed by the intestinal tract, giving a low respiratory reservoir
d. Haematologic and biochemical differences from adults can make the use of diagnostic testing difficult. Compared to an adult of the same species, chicks generally have:
1. Lower PCV and higher WCC
2. Lower total protein and uric acid
3. Higher CK
Evaluating the sick chick on presentation
On initial presentation of the chick, a rapid but thorough evaluation needs to occur. This evaluation includes
a history, physical examination, and finally diagnostic testing (performed after the chick is stabilised).
The history of the patient needs to include the species and age of the chick, whether it was artificially or naturally incubated, whether it is been parent-reared
or hand-reared, and what the parents were been fed. If it is been hand-reared, the following information must be ascertained: from what age did the hand-rearing start; what is been fed; how is it been mixed; how often and how much is the chick fed; when it was last fed;
and at what temperature the chick is been maintained.
It is also important to know what the exposure of the chick to other birds/chicks is, and whether there have been any problem with them. It is useful if there are records accompanying the chick, but these are often not available.
The physical examination needs to include its body
25-28 September, 2018 | Singapore
B. Doneley1
1Avian and Exotic Pet Medicine, The University of Queensland, Gatton, Queensland, Australia
Psittacine chicks have little in the way of compensatory mechanisms to cope with disease and consequently frequently present as acute emergencies. This presentation details the major problems facing a chick with an emergent condition, and their recognition and treatment by the clinician.
Most companion birds (e.g. parrots and passerine birds) are altricial (i.e. when hatched they are blind, deaf and not feathered, and therefore totally dependent on their parents or rearer. They go through a rapid growth phase, during which their size and weight increases to a level above that of their adult weight, before falling and then plateauing at their fledging weight. During this time their eyes and ears open, their feathers grow, the bones and internal organs mature, and their social skills and learned behaviours are shaped. This is obviously a period of rapid change, where small changes can have a big impact on their health and development.
Added to these rapidly-developing changes is the lack of awareness by the owner that a problem is present - and then a delay in seeking veterinary assistance - meaning that most chicks presented for health problems are often severely decompensated and are emergent cases.
What are the challenges of a paediatric case?
There are unique challenges the clinician faces when dealing with a paediatric case. These include:
a. Their small body size
1. A large surface area to body mass ratio, sensi- tising them to temperature extremes (especially hypothermia)
2. Difficulty in accessing blood vessels for the administration of fluids and medications and collecting blood samples
3. Small muscle mass, making intramuscular injections difficult to administer without causing significant bruising pain, and discomfort

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