Household Toxins

Don't expose your bird to household toxins, Certainly, don't expose your bird to second hand smoke, and make sure you wash your hands before handling your bird if you smoke, because nicotine residue on your hands can be dangerous to your bird.

Aerosol products can be toxic to your birds.

Teflon coated cookware, irons and heat-lamps, etc., if heated in excess of 536 degrees Fahrenheit, will release ploytetraflourethylene (PTFE) fumes that can prove fatal to birds.

Lead is quite dangerous to birds, and may be found in many household items, including curtain weights, picture frames, paint, custom jewelry, imported plastic mini-blinds, wine bottle caps etc. Many cages may even expose birds to lead and zinc. Don't ever let your bird chew on anything other than a safe bird toy. Lead poisoning is fatal if not treated promptly.

Zinc toxicosis are often nonspecific and identification of the problem requires a thorough history and zinc testing. It is well known that galvanized after welding wire contains enough zinc to cause disease, so cages should not be used. Birds need not ingest flakes of metal to become ill, as zinc may leach from the cage.

Birds are inclined to play with and chew on toys, pieces of cage and locks, and may become acutely toxic from zinc. With acute toxicosis, birds may vomit, but may stop eating. Voluminous, green stools are commonly reported. Sudden death may occur.

With chronic disease, gastrointestinal upset may occur. Kidney damage may result in a bird developing increased urination and water drinking.

Sources of zinc are many. Any white rust found on cage wire should be removed prior to use, as it contains zinc Padlocks and some toy hangers have high levels of zinc. It is safest to replace cage hardware with stainless steel components. Galvanized dishes should never be used. Many additives and some treat sticks contain large amounts of zinc. Some paints and varnishes contain zinc and many common adhesives do, as well. Duct tape, kitchen hardware, twist ties, remote controls, flooring and flooring adhesives all may contain zinc. There may be significant amounts of zinc in the adhesive found on paper towel and toilet paper rolls. Birds should never be given these toys to chew up, as they may ingest zinc. Pennies contain zinc, and birds should never be allowed to play with money. (This is one reason why coins should NEVER be thrown into cages with any animals at a zoo!

Zinc is quite common in our environment and it is important that we, as stewards of our birds, take all necessary precautions to prevent them from ingesting toxic metals. Provide your birds with a safe, toxin-free environment and evaluate all cages, equipment, toys and dishes to ensure that they are safe for them.

This information is derived from a paper presented by Dr. Fern Van Sant at the Association of Avian Veterinarians Annual Conference and Expo, held in St. Paul, Minn. in August of 1998.

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