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COMMON HAZARDS FOR PET BIRDS
Birds are curious in nature and certain dangerous objects may be attractive to them. As most pet birds have clipped wings, remain caged, or have limited activity outside their cages, poisonings are not common. However, birds with free household access or free ranging birds are at most risk of becoming exposed to poisonous items.
What are common chemical hazards for birds?
Zinc is a common avian toxin. Sources of zinc include hardware such as wire, screws, bolts, and nuts and US pennies. Pennies minted since 1983 contain 99.2% zinc and 0.8% copper and one penny contains approximately 2,440-mg of elemental zinc. The process of galvanization involves the coating of wire or other material with a zinc based compound to prevent rust. Owners are often not aware of galvanization on the wire used for making cages. Food and water dishes may also be galvanized and sufficient zinc may leach into the water or food to create toxicity. Although the exact toxicologic mechanisms of zinc in birds or other animals are not known, zinc poisoning can affect the kidneys, liver, and red blood cells. Clinical signs of zinc poisoning in birds may include increased urination, increased thirst, diarrhea, weight loss, weakness, anemia, and seizures.
Lead. Like zinc, lead exposure can be unexpected. Sources of lead include paint, toys, drapery weights, linoleum, batteries, plumbing materials, galvanized wire, solder, stained glass, fishing sinkers, lead shot, foil from champagne bottles, and improperly glazed bowls. Lead is considered to be one of the most commonly reported avian poisonings. Lead affects multiple tissues, especially the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and nervous system. Clinical signs seen in psittascine birds are often vague and may include lethargy, weakness, inappetence, regurgitation, increased urination, incoordination, circling, and convulsions. In some species, such as Amazons, bloody urine may also be noted.
Nicotine products are also hazardous. Tobacco products contain varying amounts of nicotine with cigarettes containing 13-30 mg and cigars containing 15-40 mg. Butts contain about 25% of the total nicotine content. Nicotine is also found as a natural form of insecticide. Signs develop quickly in most species, usually within 15-45 minutes and include excitation, panting, salivation, and vomiting. Muscle weakness, twitching, depression, increased heart rate, breathing difficulty, collapse, coma, and cardiac arrest may follow. Death from nicotine toxicoses may occur secondary to respiratory paralysis. Contact dermatitis and feather destructive behavior could also result from cigarette smoke deposition on perches, skin, or feathers.
Chemicals used for ectoparasite control can produce toxicity. Care should be taken when applying chemicals such as avermectins, fipronil, lufenuron etc.
What are common inhalant hazards?
Examples of potentially hazardous inhalant chemicals include: some non-stick surfaces (pots, pans, cookware, irons, ironing boards), self cleaning ovens, and drip pans for ranges; gasoline or other volatile gas fumes; any source of smoke; automobile exhaust; carbon monoxide; new carpet; aerosol sprays; cleaning products, such as ammonia or bleach; paint fumes; fumigants.
Are avocados hazardous to birds?
What plants are hazardous to birds?
Lily of the Valley- Convallaria majalis
Rhubarb (Rheum species)- leaves only
Cycad, Sago, Zamia Palm (Cycad species)
Autumn Crocus (Colchicum species)
Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum sp)
Marijuana (Cannabis sativa)
Bathroom hazards include open toilet bowls, or filled baths. Birds that are unable to swim can easily drown in either of these.
Doors can also pose physical hazards to pet birds that perch on tops of doors - closing the door while a bird is perching on top can crush toes, feet or even legs.
Yarmouth Veterinary Center