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Keep Pet Birds Safe from Common Household Toxins

Keep Pet Birds Safe from Common Household Toxins

As the majority of pet birds have limited activity outside their cages, poisonings are not common. However, birds with free household access are at risk of becoming exposed to toxins. Here are some safety tips from the ASPCA to help keep your 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. See a list of poisonous plants here.


Household cleaners

Some cleaning agents may cause mild stomach upset, but others can cause severe burns of the tongue, mouth and crop.

Pesticides and insectides

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.

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.

Prescription and OTC medication

Never give your bird any medication unless you are directed to do so by your 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 drink can be hazardous

Food and beverage items that could be dangerous to birds: 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.

Other hazardous household items

Mothballs, potpourri oils, pennies (minted after 1982), homemade play dough, fabric softener sheets, automatic dishwashing detergent and batteries could cause problems if ingested by birds.

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 cookware, automobile exhausts, tobacco or other forms of smoke, glues and paints.

Poison control and emergency veterinary care

It's always a good idea to have on hand the phone numbers for your veterinarian, a local emergency animal hospital, and poison control. If you suspect poisoning, call the ASPCA's Poison Control Hotline (888-426-4435, fee), the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661, fee) or your veterinarian immediately.

Updated: March 4, 2013

Source: ASPCA