Household Dangers and Emergency Prevention Related Topics:
Birdproofing your home can be a challenging tasks. Birds are inquisitive, comical and affectionate creatures who are usually not able to foresee the dangerous results of their actions. As owners, it is our job to make our homes as safe as possible for our feathered companions. To help bird owners, Birdmart.com has compiled a list of household dangers and steps you can take to keep your bird safe.
Non-stick Surfaces: One of the most popular household conveniences of the last few decades are non-stick surfaces. These can be found on many pieces of cookware, clothes irons, waffle irons, stove drip pans, hair curling irons and many other household appliances. Unfortunately, these appliances can be deadly to pet birds. When these items reach temperatures above about 500 degrees Fahrenheit they release a chemical called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). While this temperature is not often reached in normal cooking, mistakes can easily be made. The chemical is released in an invisible, odorless gas that is toxic to birds. Because birds' respiratory tracts are so efficient, the chemical's effects are rapid. Often, by the time owners notice their pet's symptoms, it is too late. If at all avoidable, it is best not to use non-stick products in a bird household.
Self-cleaning Ovens: The self-cleaning cycle of an oven also releases toxic fumes. All self-cleaning cycles can produce deadly results for pet birds. It is recommended that bird owners use their hands and a scrub-brush to clean their ovens!
Inhaled Impurities: Birds' respiratory tracts are perfectly designed for efficiently pulling oxygen out of the air and into their systems. Unfortunately, this efficient air filtering system also is quite good a pulling impurities out of the air. These impurities can, essentially, choke a bird by taking the space of oxygen that their bodies need. Cigarette smoke, aerosol fumes, scented candles, incents, cooking smoke (burned oil, etc.), carpet powders, household sprays, etc. can potentially kill a bird. Be very wary when using these products around your bird (if you must, at all).
Heavy Metals: Birds love to chew on things. Metals, especially soft ones like lead, are very attractive to curious beaks. Lead and Zinc, however, will cause problems in a bird's system. The most common result of heavy metal toxicity are neurological - seizures, over-grooming, etc. Curtain weights, bullets, pewter items and many hardware fixtures contain heavy metals, so be careful what your bird puts in its mouth!
Plants: Birds don't seem to have the same plant toxicity problems that dogs and cats do (because their metabolism is so much faster), but there are plants that can have toxic effects on birds. If you can, contact your avian vet for a list of toxic plants. If you are not sure whether or not a plant is toxic, make sure your bird can't chew on it.
Electrical Cords: These present an obvious danger to pet birds. However, many owners may not realize how attractive these items are to pet birds! Birds seem almost blindly attracted to electric, cable and phone cords. Be wary! The results of this play could be deadly.
Hot Stuff: Boiling food, burning candles and hot light bulbs all present dangers to birds. These can all cause serious burns to delicate bird skin if they are flown into. Some birds seem to be attracted to shiny bulbs or flame, although they cannot predict the consequences. It is best not to allow birds to be around the kitchen if there is cooking going on. Also, keep them away from candle and hearth fires!
Other Pets: No matter how gentle and trustworthy your other pets are, accidents do happen. A dog or a cat meaning only to "play" could cause serious injury to a pet parrot. Other birds, too, might injury eachother. In short, be wary of other pets with your bird. If puncture wounds do occur, be sure to see your vet ASAP. Saliva, especially cat saliva, contains strong bacteria that can kill a bird even if the initial puncture causes little problem.
Oily Salves: We don't recommend treating at home, but for those who insist upon it, do NOT use oily/petroleum based ointments/salves. These oily products can get dispersed over the feathers, preventing a bird from being able to regulate its body temperature.
Clip Those Wings: While it is understandable for an owner to want to allow their bird free flight, it is a gift that comes with too many dangers. Open windows, ceiling fans, mirrors, fire and boiling food are just a few of the dangers which many prove fatal for an unclipped birds. Their danger is almost made moot by clipped wings (as birds cannot "fly" themselves into a dangerous situation).
Know Your Bird: Know every aspect of your bird's personality. Because birds naturally hide symptoms, even the most tame, loving bird will not appear sick until it can no longer hide their symptoms. Subtle changes in behavior, eating patters, noise level, etc. may indicate illness. Of course, it is always easier to deal with illness when it is still a minor problem.
See Your Avian Vet Regularly: See your vet yearly - he or she might be able to pick up signs of illness before you do. These yearly exams are also a great time to discuss behavior, grooming, feeding, or other bird concerns. Usually, vets recommend that birds have laboratory tests done every 2-3 years. These tests help vets detect illness and disease early, when treatment is easier.
Be Aware of Dangers in Your Home: Read the above "household dangers" section carefully, read magazines and talk to avian vets and bird people. Try to rid your home of as many bird dangers as possible. Also, watch your bird carefully and try to detect things that your birds make dangerous.
Always Observe Your Bird Out of Its Cage: Birds are often more sneaky and "naughty" when you are not looking. Also, if you are not around to catch a dangerous situation, the bird may make it worse in the time you are absent. Always be sure you are nearby when your bird is playing out of its cage.
Feed Your Bird Right: Birds fed a complete diet (see "Psittacine Cuisine" for details) have a better immune system and are better able to fight off disease and illness. These birds are less likely to have an emergency medical situation due to illness.
Be Prepared - Always have the following on hand:
- Avian vet's phone number/directions
- Emergency vet's phone number/directions
- styptic powder
- bandage (safe) scissors
- an appropriately sized towel and
- a carrier
This way, you are prepared for an emergency situation.