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Poison Prevention Tips for Bird Owners
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
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November 2004 News
Poison prevention tips for bird owners

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center offers the following poison prevention information for bird owners:

According to statistics compiled by the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, approximately 880 cases of pet birds being exposed to common household items have been reported to the Center since January 2003. Of these cases, 29% involved medications, 22% involved pesticides (including rat bait and insecticides), 18% involved plants, 15% involved cleaning agents and 14% involved miscellaneous toxicants.

As the majority of pet birds have limited activity outside their cages, poisonings are not common. However, birds with free household access are at potential risk of becoming exposed to toxicants. Birds are curious in nature and certain objects may be attractive to them. Therefore, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control is providing bird owners with some helpful poison prevention tips to keep their feathered friends safe.

  • Be aware of the plants you have in your home. The ingestion of azalea, oleander, yew, or rhododendron could produce life-threatening clinical problems.

  • Store all cleaners, pesticides, prescription and over-the-counter medications out of your bird's reach. Some cleaning agents may cause mild stomach upset, but others can cause severe burns of the tongue, mouth and crop.

  • Most pesticide baits contain ingredients such as grains or sugars, which can attract your bird. When using rat and mouse bait or ant or roach traps, place the products in areas that are inaccessible to your bird.

  • Never give your bird medication unless you are directed to do so by a veterinarian. Many medications that are safe for humans can be potentially deadly for birds, even in small amounts. This includes painkillers, cold medicines, anti-cancer medications, antidepressants, vitamins, and diet pills.

  • Food and beverage items that could be dangerous to birds include: onions, garlic, chocolate (bakers, semi sweet, milk, dark), coffee (grounds, beans, chocolate covered espresso beans), tea, yeast dough, salt, tomato leaves and stems (green parts), potato leaves and stems (green parts), rhubarb leaves, avocados, cigarettes and other tobacco products, moldy or spoiled foods, and alcoholic beverages.

  • Mothballs, potpourri oils, pennies (minted after 1983), homemade play dough, fabric softener sheets, automatic dishwashing detergent, and batteries could cause problems if ingested by birds.

  • Make sure your bird does not enter areas in which insecticidal foggers or house sprays have been applied for the period of time indicated on the label. Birds are sensitive to inhalants and they typically require longer periods of time away from treated areas. Contact the manufacturer for recommendations if the label information is not specific.

  • Birds are highly sensitive to inhalant fumes. Some common sources for fumes include aerosol products such as hairsprays, perfumes and air fresheners, insecticidal fumigants, overheated Teflon or Silverstone coated pans, automobile exhausts, tobacco or other forms of smoke, glues, and paints.

See our section, First Aid, Emergencies, and Poisons in Birds for more information.

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